Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ron Paul's free-thinking followers receive their orders.

Allow me to begin with a statement of fact: Rep. Ron Paul is not a libertarian. He is a registered Libertarian, an aspect of his political career rendered moot by his policy stances. I could join the Justice League, complete with membership card, but that won't make me a superhero. Merit alone determines credibility. While I stop short of endorsing any libertarian purity test, if Rep. Paul is a libertarian superhero, his power is the ability to tie trash bags really, really fast. Perhaps useful while substantially improving nothing. He is on the fringe, with minimal credibility.

With that stated, Rep. Paul announced his endorsement in the presidential race. He supports Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin. The Constitution Party's platform is ridiculous, including such anti-liberty stupidity like this nugget on drug abuse:

The Constitution Party will uphold the right of states and localities to restrict access to drugs and to enforce such restrictions. We support legislation to stop the flow of illegal drugs into these United States from foreign sources. As a matter of self-defense, retaliatory policies including embargoes, sanctions, and tariffs, should be considered.

Drugs should be legal, although I don't personally care. Legalize every drug tomorrow and my cumulative lifetime intake will continue at zero. So, don't get distracted by the drug issue.

The important point is the mention of state and local rights. This is, at best, a poorly-written talking point. No government has any rights. Governments have powers granted to them by rights-possessing people. This matters. As Rep. Paul shows with his blather on issues like same-sex marriage, he is not interested in promoting liberty by limiting government. He is interested in promoting government by limiting liberty, as long as the government involved is not the federal government. Local majoritarianism is no improvement on the national variety.

The Constitution Party's platform gets no better for libertarians.

Also, consider the proper analysis of Rep. Paul's decision (link via Hit & Run):

Two weeks ago the Libertarian nominee pulled out of a press conference Ron Paul had called with the four leading third-party candidates (Barr, Baldwin, Nader, McKinney) to highlight their common ground. Barr decided to hold a press conference of his own down the hall. He also sent Paul a snide note — transmitted to Barr’s e-mail list as well — suggesting that Paul ought to replace the hapless Wayne Allyn Root as Barr’s running mate. This ploy could hardly have been more ham-handed: if Barr wanted to appear generous, he should have offered Paul, obviously by far the bigger attraction, his own slot at the top of the Libertarian ticket. Paul would not have accepted, but Barr at least would have received credit from some libertarians (note the small “l”) for making a serious offer.

After the press conference, Paul’s supporters, not to say Paul himself, were furious with Barr. And now, as a result of all of this, Paul is officially giving his blessing to Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin. Here’s Paul’s statement. I don’t think Paul wanted to choose between Baldwin, who faithfully supported Paul’s Republican presidential bid earlier this year, and Barr, the nominee of the party whose ticket Paul had headed in 1988. But Barr’s behavior forced a decision, and the Libertarian Party is the loser for it.

If that educated guess is correct, and I suspect it is, who could reasonably propose that an individual who makes such a petty, unprincipled decision is qualified to represent libertarians, or to be President of the United States? What would he have chosen as his slogan if his revolution had succeeded in earning the Republican nomination, "Maverick Change You Can Believe in from the Next Decider"? I'll pass.

Note: I'm not particularly interested in the Libertarian Party politics, or Bob Barr's place as a libertarian. I've come back to my original skepticism. Bob Barr isn't a libertarian.

More thoughts at A Stitch in Haste and Timothy Sandefur.