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Opinion

Opinion

Ron Paul’s issues now part of debate

November 8, 2011

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— The trees are ablaze with yellows and reds and, since an early snowfall the night before, blanketed with white as well. All that color in southern New Hampshire in mid-autumn, however, is more than a visual display. It underlines how mixed up the seasons are — how mixed up our politics are — in the final months before the first presidential primary.

But this is also the season for Ron Paul, the iconoclastic Texas congressman who for a quarter century has been railing about government spending, the Fed, the overextension of American military power, the gold standard and, until recently, has been relegated to the periphery of our politics.

Now, Paul, an obstetrician and midwife to a movement, is suddenly front and center, though not exactly occupying the center of our politics.

Which may be why, well before 7:30 on a recent morning, several hundred of Nashua’s respectables — there were so many gray suits in the ballroom of the Marriott Courtyard that you could have held a Jos. A. Bank trunk show — gathered in the early chill to hear Paul talk about interest rates, the perfidy of the Fed and an economy where the overlords are suggesting that “working hard and saving is wrong.”

He spoke, too, of the NASDAQ bubble, the housing bubble, the bond bubble — and with every speech (and a barrage of ads on Granite State television), he is building a Ron Paul bubble.

“We spent too much, we ran up a debt, we regulated too much and then we said we can’t handle it all so we’ll depend on the Fed,” he said. There wasn’t a set of notes in sight, nor in his suit pocket. He’s given this riff for decades. “We continue to spend, the deficit has exploded, we continued to borrow and we continue to tax — and we wonder why we haven’t had a recovery.”

This is not a message that is alien to this terrain. Long before some of the members of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce came of age politically, New Hampshire politicians, especially Gov. Meldrim Thomson Jr., who presided in Concord from 1973 to 1979, spoke in an idiom much like Paul’s.

So if the Paul message of “freedom and prosperity” is to flourish anywhere, this is the place — and this is the time.

“He reminds us that the government has a limited role, not an expansive role,” said Ovide Lamontagne, unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial candidate here in 1996 and a candidate again in 2012. Lamontagne is not committed to any presidential candidate, but he regards the Paul candidacy as “a statement of empowerment, not powerlessness.”

Nobody is predicting that Paul will prevail in January’s primary. Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts has roots too deep in this region and is in too strong a position, at least right now. But the Nashua crowd wasn’t only full of the converted. It was crowded, too, with the curious.

For years Ron Paul events didn’t attract the curious, who were repelled by the true believers, committed supporters like Robert Carley, who rose at 3 a.m. to drive from Darien, Conn., to Nashua to present Paul a cartoon of the candidate. “He has a great face to caricature — interesting eyes, high eyebrows,” Carley said. “But I admire his conservative policies. He was prophetic about the economy and all the money we wasted in Iraq.”

Paul is a political perennial, which ordinarily is a political liability. But Paul is a perennial with a difference. No longer are he and his views colorful eccentricities. He’s not the only one skeptical of the Fed, nor the only one worried about federal spending. His $2 million ad offensive here — the earliest big TV bang yet — has a simple theme: the changing views of his rivals and the consistency of his own views.

He hasn’t adjusted his message to the current debate. The current debate has been bent to his message.

“I don’t know whether things have come my way or not,” he said in an interview. “A lot of mistakes have been made and people are paying new attention to all this overspending.”

Today, with the economy still in distress and foreign wars causing increasing distress, a Venn diagram of Dr. Paul’s ideas would give a viewer a serious case of vertigo.

His position on the Fed intersects that of Sen. Bernard Sanders, the Vermont socialist. His position on spending intersects that of the tea party. His position on foreign intervention intersects those of some conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. And he sees allies in Occupy Wall Street.

“The street demonstrations are symbols of our problems,” he said in the interview. “It’s now important that all that energy be channeled in the right way. A lot of those people are skeptical of the Fed. But some of them want to penalize anybody’s who’s successful. That’s not the way to go.”

All those intersections explain why he was asked here by a woman who’s an officer in the National Guard whether he’d withdraw American troops from Afghanistan (his answer: “Just come home”) and by a man who described himself as a carpenter, wilderness guide, teacher and novelist whether the Fed was “a cabal of international bankers” (Paul: “We can get rid of it by congressional action”).

Listen to the heart of the Paul message:

“The Constitution is to protect individuals’ rights to make their own choices,” he said. “We have accepted this idea that the government can be so big that it can bankrupt our economy and endanger our liberties. We have to decide what the role of government should be.”

Every one of those sentences could be spoken in 2012 by any number of Republican candidates.

Paul is running for more than president. He is running to make his ideas part of the mainstream debate. He’ll likely lose the first campaign. He’s already won the second.

— David Shribman is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. His email is dshribman@post-gazette.com

Comments

Richard Heckler 3 years, 1 month ago

In two states, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, GOP legislators have introduced bills that would change how electoral votes—a candidate needs 270 of the 538 to win the presidency—are awarded in a presidential election. Under the current system, the winner of the statewide popular vote receives all of the electoral votes from that state.

In Pennsylvania, a secretive nonprofit group called All Votes Matter has been pushing the electoral vote scheme since May. All Votes Matter has close ties to the Pennsylvania GOP—it hired a number of former top state Senate staffers-turned-lobbyists. "It was pretty much the Senate GOP All Star Lobbying Team and [former state House Democratic Counsel Bill] Sloane," Peter DeCoursey, the bureau chief for Capitolwire, a newswire that's read religiously by Harrisburg insiders*, explained in September.

All Votes Matter doesn't disclose its donors "as a matter of policy, per the request of many of them," Gerow told Mother Jones. "It's their legal right not to have it disclosed, and they don't want it disclosed so they're not subject to media calls and other potential harassment," he added. All Votes Matter has "fully and completely complied with the law and will continue to do so," Gerow said, and "if those who don't agree with the law want to change it, it certainly is their right to do that."

There's no law that says All Votes Matter has to disclose where its money comes from. But opponents of the electoral college changes are outraged that voters are being kept in the dark about who's behind such a potentially consequential reform. "This is an effort to fundamentally change the way Pennsylvania conducts its presidential elections, in my view to rig the election," says Democratic state Sen. Daylin Leach. "They raised an awful lot of money very quickly—$300,000 in just a few days. We're all curious where that level of funding comes from."

Carolyn Fiddler, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which assists Democrats in state-level races around the country, says: "Given the potential impact of this measure this group is lobbying for, not just for Pennsylvanians but for presidential politics and Americans in general, the public has a right to know who's behind it."

Transparency advocates say it's not enough to just know who is doing the lobbying—voters should also know who is paying the bills. "The old adage is that actions speak louder than words, and deeper pockets allow for more action," says Michael Beckel, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics. "Without disclosure, the public is unable to fully hold accountable the companies and organizations that have hired these lobbyists in the first place."

http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/11/pennsylvania-electoral-college-all-votes-matter

akuna 3 years, 1 month ago

Your point?

While Bush was claiming "Mission Accomplished," the mission wasn't actually accomplished.

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 1 month ago

And you think this is important...why?

As an aside, instead of jumping on the bandwagon about a book that was just published today by someone who wasn't at all involved (and the SEALS that were directly involved are reported to have all denied talking to him), perhaps you ought to wait a day or two? Read the book, not the jacket blurbs? I mean, it wouldn't be the first time an author exaggerated as well as simply made things up to increase sales.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 1 month ago

Too many voters young and old stay home.

That is how we got Brownback and the RINO party in general. Brownback works for the Koch family money and the Wal-Mart family money keep this in mind.

Democrats and true republicans need to stick together for we are getting duped. The right wing RINO's quietly took control of the republican party in order to avoid the ballot process required to establish a new party.

RINO's do not like republicans or democrats. With lots of money they voted out republicans over the years until absolute control was achieved.

VOTERS NEED TO PAY ATTENTION!! It may well be taking place within the democratic party as well.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

I like Ron Paul, OK, but his few good ideas (at least he has some, unlike most republicans) are overshadowed by his overall crackpottery.

Casey_Jones 3 years, 1 month ago

"his few good ideas are overshadowed by his overall crackpottery"

Care to elaborate?

pace 3 years, 1 month ago

One of his merchandising items was a tea shirt with a picture of J. F. Kennedy with an X over his head, and in big letters "KILL THE FED" I should of bought it, of course that would of fed the nutcase's machine. I asked if they realized the implication, the next day, I went back and they said it never happened, there were no shirts like that.. Local liars reflect just more national mean and radical nonsense. Sick of people calling for death to the working person, the ill, the elderly. to anyone who isn't them, Teas/Ron Paul, mean does not equal good policy, only equals mean.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

They'd definitely prefer many other candidates (Cain seems to be their chosen one,) but if he did get the nomination, they'd get behind him full force-- they know that his brand of libertarianism would favor folks with loads of cash in consolidating their grip on the US govt. and economy.

Casey_Jones 3 years, 1 month ago

"they know that his brand of libertarianism would favor folks with loads of cash in consolidating their grip on the US govt. and economy."

That simply isn't true. Big businesses make their billions thanks to the government, not in spite of it. Over-regulation makes it excessively difficult for competitors to enter the market, leaving consumers with little or no choices in how to spend their money. Without competition, corporations answer only to their investors, not the consumers that make their business possible.

Paul's views don't take power from the people, they take power from the government., and anyone who doesn't believe corporate private interests are controlling our government clearly hasn't been paying attention. Just take a look at the aftermath of BP's oil spill, or the failed bailouts. We've been letting the government control our lives for a long time now, and it's not working.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

I think Ron Paul sincerely believes as you describe, and it's his sincerity that is most appealing about him.

But he's completely deluded in thinking that his libertarian policies will do anything but just transform the way the corporations and the wealthy oligarchs who own them wield their power (and almost certainly increase both their wealth and power in the process.)

jonas_opines 3 years, 1 month ago

"Every one of those sentences could be spoken in 2012 by any number of Republican candidates."

But Paul would still be the only one who actually meant any of them, at least in a consistent sense.

Getaroom 3 years, 1 month ago

Ron Paul is a mouth piece for simply another version of Christian fundamentalism and Neoconservatism. Not that what he is mouthing is all wrong by any means, but in the background of his speeches lies nothing more than a political structure that has no use for "the commons" in society. His, is politics by way of Social Darwinism. His message is not unique, he repeats the obvious, too much of this/too little of that and like always the main issue is how we bring any semblance of balance into our run amuck Ultra Pro Capitalistic Democracy. Liberty_One believes that a country ruled by a well oiled corporation is better than a democratically elected government, not that what we have now is truly a Democracy, but an ongoing failing experiment. What we have is an elected Government ruled by Corporations, who(acting as individuals thanks to the Supreme Court) use elected officials as puppets to bring greater "Free Market" profits back to the Corporations which tightly hold profits concentrated within top tier. The primary fantasy here is that the "Free Market" is "free", moral, ethical and not greedy. All this flies in the face of reality and human nature. The belief that no government regulation is best is obviously self serving only to the elite, because that is the way it works. Inequality in income earnings is growing in leaps and bounds making the top so heavy it is going to collapse, as empires always do ultimately. Ron Paul is not telling the truth, but he believes he is. I admire his conviction, but little else. Sure you can write him in and vote, but you see, he is not playing ball with the the big boys and they don't like that because they want all the power and are unwilling to lose what they have now The next election, like others leading up to this one, will be about who runs the Oligarcy and it has nothing to do with Party affiliations. Just follow the money. Even all this Religious fervor is a ruse. It is all about the money, control and power and always has been. Brownbackward is the perfect example, do we deserve him, maybe.

mom_of_three 3 years, 1 month ago

"“The Constitution is to protect individuals’ rights to make their own choices,” he said"

Except when it comes to abortion. He is fully ready to make the choice for women.

Cai 3 years, 1 month ago

Paul has actually stated on many occasions that abortion isn't the feds place. That abortion is an issue that belongs at the state level. Yes, he's pro-life, but he seems to be able to separate those feelings from how he thinks government should be run. see: http://www.ronpaul.com/on-the-issues/abortion/

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

I admire his consistency, but he's still wrong. It's not the choice of the states. It's the choice of a woman and her doctor.

Cai 3 years, 1 month ago

@bozo

i actually don't like ron paul much, in general, this policy included. but, as you say, he is consistent, and against what mom said, he has and continues to state that he against federal laws pertaining (prolife or prochoice) to abortion.

voevoda 3 years, 1 month ago

Ron Paul on abortion, taken directly from his pamphlet: Abortion and Liberty, 1983: “The law as it exists today says a fetus shall receive equal “protection” under the law while the law itself permits (and the government finances) his death. The fetus that deserves life—as all fetuses do—has no protection whatsoever. The law and the state thus become the enemies of life, not the protectors of life, just as they have become thieves when they confiscate property instead of protecting property by punishing theft and protecting rights of property ownership.” "A key element of a free society is the recognition that citizens have responsibilities. All persons are expected to follow their contractual obligations, explicit and implied. They are responsible for their acts and liable for any injury caused. Pregnancy is predictable and the cause is known. But even an illiterate driver who fails to stop at a stop sign is not exempt from responsibility and must assume liablility [sic] if he causes an accident. Two persons conceiving new life are responsible for that life. If this responsibility is eliminated by causing the death of the innocent bystander, the concept of responsibility is destroyed. Abortion and the killing of newborns cannot qualify as victimless crimes. The unwritten commitment to the life conceived occurs at the time of conception. If we don’t accept this proposition, the basis for personal responsibility for all acts, the key to a free society, is destroyed."
"The emotional appeal of rape and incest victims played a large role in softening the resistance of those with moderate opposition to abortion. The truth is that pregnancy after rape is very rare. A rape victim would be expected to arrive in an emergency room or a police station immediately after the act. If she did, a pregnancy could be prevented." "Abortion is frequently justified as a method for the mother to end or avoid various diseases... Such distorted medical views have come from poorly researched movies on the subject. The state of pregnancy is natural; it’s not a disease; and it is complimentary to both fetus and mother. Most of the time it’s a delightful period for the mother and she feels better than at any other time in her life." "If abortion is justified because a human life is defective, and this provides the argument for taking the life of a day-old cripple, then performing abortions to reduce the welfare rolls could be next." "A Constitutional provision should never have been necessary, but now it is. Without this change in the Constitution, the division and dissension in the country over abortion will get worse. If we cannot achieve a clearcut protection of all human life, in-utero as well as extra-utero, all life and liberty will be undefendable and the disintegration of our free society will accelerate." "Medically there is no justification for abortion."

akuna 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm not sure what Ron Paul would do about regulations. But I do know he'd like to change the way the banking system works. Cheap money from the government creates excess borrowing while leaving the real motivator for the free market out to dry - private investment. The cheap money also creates bubbles.

If Ron Paul does get elected, I expect to see a significant rise in interest rates across the board. That is why the Koch Brothers don't want Ron Paul in office. He would screw up their access to low interest rate money from the government.

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm really puzzled by your argument here. How is private investment "left out to dry" by low interest rates?

I mean, it's actually HIGHER interest rates that lower private investment. If your goal is increased private investment, then the last thing you should want is higher interest rates!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

Interests rates are but one factor in an array of them that need to be judged in aggregate. Saying that low ( or medium or high) interest rates are good or bad without looking at the context of the entire economic picture is nothing but ideological sloganeering.

voevoda 3 years, 1 month ago

I can't ever endorse Ron Paul's candidacy. His own words, taken directly from his own publications: "In a prolonged period of coming to accept the principles of liberty by becoming anti-draft (because I am pro-liberty), rejecting government schools (because I am pro-freedom) and accepting the free market—I found it natural and consistent to become strongly pro-life—that is, opposed to the destruction of all innocent human life—whether in the mother’s uterus or on the mother’s lap.”
“Morally, the regulations [OSHA] are an abomination. All regulations presume guilt before an act has ever been performed. To concede such arbitrary authority to the bureaucrats is the concession of one’s life to another; and in this case, it is to a bureaucrat who thinks he knows what is best for everybody. The intollerable [sic] arrogance displayed by these bureaucrats should stir men to action."
"Yes this means an individual has the right to be selfish, the right to self-indulgence, and the right to freely choose all associations.” “Food stamps, subsidies to the housing industry, and job programs have nothing in common with rights. In fact, since government produces nothing, Congress, in order to bestow material benefits on any citizen, must first take them from a productive citizen. Congress can do nothing but engage in redistribution—the equivalent of a hoodlum robbing a citizen at the point of a gun. The victim of the theft has his rights violated and the government becomes the initiator of violence.” "We cannot accept the notion that rights include such things as a “right” to medical care. This is a demand and a need, but not a right. All people have a right to pursue their own needs, but not by forcibly taking from others.” "The criminals who terrorize our cities--in riots and on every non-riot day--are not exclusively young black males, but they largely are. As children, they are trained to hate whites, to believe that white oppression is responsible for all black ills, to "fight the power," and to steal and loot as much money from the white enemy as possible... A lady I know recently saw a black couple in the supermarket with a cute little girl, three years old or so. My friend waved to the tiny child, who scowled, stuck out her tongue, and said (somewhat tautologically): "I hate you, white honkey." And the parents were indulgent. Is any white child taught to hate in this way? I've never heard of it. If a white child made such a remark to a black woman, the parents would stop it with a reprimand or a spank." "Many more [grassroots Americans] are going to have difficultly avoiding the belief that our country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists -- and they can be identified by the color of their skin." "I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in [Washington, DC] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"In fact, since government produces nothing,"

And this little tidbit of absurdity should be a tip off to his crackpottery. You may disagree with what government produces, or how it goes about financing what it does produce, but to say it produces nothing is just pure hogwash.

I think that what he really believes is that government shouldn't produce anything, and if he's ever elected president, that's all we'll get out of government-- nothing. And the Koch Bros., et al, would be happy to fill that void-- at a price that would likely exclude a goodly percentage of the 99%.

voevoda 3 years, 1 month ago

The exact racist words I quoted appeared in Ron Paul Political Report in 1993. Here is the link to the complete, original article: http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/g/ftp.py?people/g/gannon.dan/1992/gannon.0793 He claimed authorship at the time, although quite often his staffers actually wrote the articles. If Ron Paul specifically repudiated this text as soon as he became aware of its content and fired the staff member who wrote it, then he is exonerated. So, LIberty_One, prove to me that Ron Paul this specific article. Otherwise, he's guilty as charged, and you're an apologist for a racist.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

I'll give some credit to Paul. Now he doesn't blame all the country's ills on black and brown folks, but has expanded to blaming anyone who isn't an anarchocapitalist like him.

voevoda 3 years, 1 month ago

Ron Paul's story has hardly been "debunked." When confronted with the material from his newsletter, he never denied that it was authentically from his publication. Instead, he said 1) the words were taken out of context; and 2) someone else wrote the articles and he never even read them. Let's look at the objective evidence: Words taken out of context? The excerpts I provided are from a complete article, to which I provided a link. Any reader will see that the excerpt reflects the tenor of the article as a whole.
Someone else wrote the articles and Ron Paul did not even know about them? The articles appeared in the "Ron Paul Political Report," and each issue was signed with his name. Numerous articles with similar racist content appeared in that publication over a five-year period (1989-1994). If someone else wrote the articles, it was Ron Paul's own staff person. Ron Paul hired that person (or persons) and allowed that person free rein to publish the articles under Ron Paul's aegis and over his signature, and paid for with Ron Paul's money. Should we believe that he never checked to see if that person actually shared his (Ron Paul's) own views? And over a period of years, Ron Paul never noticed the content of these articles and objected to it? And nobody who read the newsletter over five years ever brought the racist content to Ron Paul's attention, so that he could fire the staffer and publicly retract the racist statements? This scenario strains credulity. In the unlikely circumstance that this is what happened, then Ron Paul is incompetent as an administrator, as well as a plagiarizer.
The burden of proof here is on Ron Paul, and he hasn't even come close to meeting it.

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