Sunday, June 10, 2007

Why I Won't Be Voting for Ron Paul

If you read Reddit, or Wikipedia, you might think that Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is the best thing since sliced bread. After all, he "believes in maintaining and restoring civil liberties". He's "both deeply principled and wholly uncompromised". He's "honest". Sounds great, right?

Unfortunately, he's also a total loon.

He's anti-choice. He's against human embryonic stem-cell research. He wants to return to the gold standard. He would deny US citizenship to those born in the US to illegal immigrant parents.

If that's not enough, read this piece, entitled "The War on Religion", penned by Representative Paul. In it, he subscribes to the absurd claim, advanced by the wacko right, that there is a "war on religion", conducted by "the elitist, secular Left". He claims (falsely) that the US constitution is "replete with references to God". (Actually, the Constitution, a profoundly secular document, does not mention "God", "Jesus", "Christianity", or "Savior". It does have one reference that could be construed as religious; namely, the formulaic "Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven" at the end.)

Having a president that is deeply principled can be a good thing. First, though, I'd want to make sure his principles are based on reality, not some bizarre Christian persecution syndrome.


Anonymous said...

Since you reside in Canada, will you be voting for anyone in the U.S. election? How does that work; would you vote in the last state in which you resided, or what?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

American citizens living abroad can vote in US elections. You are supposed to vote in the state where you last voted, or failing that, in the state where you last resided. You can find more information at the website for Democrats Abroad, .

Lippard said...

While I agree that Ron Paul wouldn't make a good president (including for the reasons you mention), just a few clarifications:

* His position on abortion is that it should be regulated by individual states rather than the federal government. He's personally pro-life, but apparently doesn't have a problem with individual states choosing to allow abortion. (So he must not think that it's necessarily murder.)

* Similarly, he opposes *federal funding* of embryonic stem-cell research. I'm not aware that he's said that it should be banned. He holds to a very strict constitutional standard about the powers of Congress (which, if you read the Constitution, are quite limited, and have been expanded through an extremely brought reading of the "necessary and proper" clause).

On the above two issues, I disagree with Paul on the former and am somewhat ambivalent on the latter (though I strongly oppose Bush's deceptive remarks about the number of embryonic stem cell lines available for research).

You're quite right that he wants to return to the gold standard (and that's crazy) and that he would deny U.S. citizenship to those born in the U.S. to illegal immigrant parents (which I also strongly disagree with).

I hadn't seen his "War on Religion" article before, it's a pity that he's a wacko on that subject as well. (BTW, the mere presence of something on the Lew Rockwell site is reason to subject it to strong skeptical scrutiny.)

On the other hand, he's the only presidential candidate who has consistently opposed the war in Iraq and the war on some drugs with both words and actions--I'm glad for his contributions on those subjects.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Hi, Jim. Nice to hear from you.

For stem cells, see The first vote on that page I would construe as a vote against embryonic stem-cell research.

He also voted to ban intact dilation and extraction, which I would construe as an anti-choice vote.

Lippard said...

I agree on the second point, though from what I've heard I don't think he favors federal legislation banning all abortion. On the first, that bill specifically calls for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to support research (i.e., with federal funds) using embryonic stem cells that are obtained from IVF clinics.

I suspect that Paul has voted no on virtually every bill which calls for spending federal money on something not specifically designated in the Constitution as a power of Congress. If you look at the list of votes on the abortion web page you cited, in most cases it's apparent that he voted against taking the action that involved spending federal funds (though I must admit the wording of some of the descriptions is so convoluted that I can't be sure). I find it interesting that NARAL gave him 0%, when he voted against restrictions on transporting minors between states to obtain abortions, voted against making it a crime to harm a fetus during the commission of another crime, and voted against prohibiting human cloning for reproduction and medical research. The partial-birth abortion ban is the only clear case where he voted for a prohibition on private action on that list.

BTW, another issue where I disagree with Paul is on free trade--he is unwilling to compromise on anything less than unilateral free trade, and so has voted no on free trade agreements like NAFTA. I think unilateral free trade would be the ideal (producing huge net benefits to both the citizens of developing nations and U.S. residents), but the free trade agreements at least get us closer to the ideal than we are today (though I oppose the way they've been used to mandate things like an equivalent to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in other countries).

Yet I still think he's the best of the announced Republican candidates--all of the rest support the war in Iraq, and all the rest except McCain favor the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," i.e., torture.

Paul seems to be the Republican analogue of Kucinich...