Monday, January 21, 2008

Ron Paul support

Today Ron Paul came here to speak; I didn't go, but it prompts me to talk about the support he enjoys on the LSU campus, where political awareness/activism usually doesn't ramp up until just before the general election.

This seeming support is strange to me, since his central platform is devolving what are currently federal responsibilities to the states, and we are a state that just elected a governor based on his claims that he'll clean up a corrupt and inefficient government. In other words, a lot of good it will do for us to do things on our own when we obviously have little or no confidence in ourselves to do it right. And, assuming Jindal is willing and able to set things straight with our state government, it will take time.

Personally, I'm not sure that his idea is so great for us; for instance, while I am against No Child Left Behind and "teaching exams," I don't know if isolating ourselves educationally (for example) will be the best thing to enable our students to compete nationally. Or, there are times when we might need the help of our neighbors; coastal subsidence and erosion is an example. Besides being too large for us to handle alone--a $14 billion price tag over 50 years--it is truly an issue that affects other states besides ours. So does that mean we should foot the bill alone? If California or New York were losing 25 square miles per year (say, to a foreign invader), would the rest of us consider it solely the problem of those states? (His environmental policies, by the way, are based upon protection of private property. That's not enough here.)

He is from one of the richest states, Texas, and a believer in free market above all to boot, so it stands to reason that he would want to cut off the poorer states to decline so that the richer ones could grow richer.

I feel that his support lies chiefly in claims of lower taxes and protection of civil liberties. No one likes paying high taxes, and few will argue against civil liberties. But taxes are the price of living in a civilized society. And frankly, if you want to continue getting services from the government (whether federal or state), you'll have to keep paying them. I guess where he would have us come out ahead is in getting rid of welfare, which is something he and I flat-out disagree on.

Otherwise, people seem to like him for being libertarian and a "constitutionalist," but I find him fairly inconsistent in those areas. Sure, he's libertarian--except when in it comes to abortion, in which case he is pro-life (that is to say, restrictive of women's rights). He also feels that the federal government is too hostile towards religion, when in fact secularism is what protects the non-Christian minority. As for being constitutionalist, i.e. strictly adhering to the Constitution, he has always tooted that horn--except that he wants to amend it so that citizenship isn't automatic to people born in the US (which, good policy or not, contradicts an amendment of the Constitution; and might I remind that the Bill of Rights are also amendments). While I'm not questioning his sincerity on these or other issues, the labels applied to him (by himself or others), or even generalizations made about his beliefs, should not necessarily be accepted as true. He is just as prone to logical pitfalls and contradictions as any other candidate.

I feel that Paul makes some good points, and that we do need people like him shouting at us and our government for change. But I don't think he should be President. And writing from the perspective of this blog, I don't think he is what we, a state that is sadly weak--and not (entirely) because of our federal government--need right now.

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