The 2012 election and the love-hate relationship with Ron Paul

He's the candidate the GOP hates to love. Read why Paul's constitutionalism, consistency, and electability are under-appreciated. Photo: Evan Vucci/HC

OHATCHEE, Al. January 20, 2012 — The 2012 Republican primaries are underway, and quite soon Republican voters will have to decide which candidate they think is most intellectually and sensibly equipped to rule the executive branch of our government for the next presidential term. A heady part of this decision, as usual, involves determining which candidate is most “electable” against the incumbent president, who happens to be the extreme liberal Barack Obama.

Obviously, not all of the candidates could possibly be called to the presidency at once. But let us take a look at what purpose the various GOP candidates have served throughout the race nevertheless.

Mitt Romney, if not the default winner, has served as a fantastic decoy. The Obama campaign has probably spent the last three years preparing to run against presidential nominee Romney because he plays the role so well. If Republican voters suddenly switch him out for an unexpected anti-Romney, Democrats might be caught off guard.

Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Jon Huntsman gradually appeared on the scene to help thoroughly vet Romney since the media will not bother with it much (they would rather save their ammo for the general election).

Herman Cain raised policy debate to new heights by offering a plan to drastically overhaul the federal tax system. Furthermore, he served to unshackle black voters from the left’s stereotypical co-opting. Thanks to Cain, it is more than blatantly ridiculous to call criticism of Barack Obama’s policies “racist”. (Remember when Rev. Jesse Jackson said that Democratic congressman Artur Davis of Alabama couldn’t call himself a black man after he voted against Obama’s health care plan?)

Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann have represented home educating parents in this presidential contest, which shows a significant culture change taking place. Bachmann, the 55-year-old mother of many children, tax law graduate of William & Mary, and congresswoman from Minnesota even rejects the mantle of “feminist”, thus representing the women that Bill Maher has crudely implied to be conservative men’s “traditional idiot housewives” – who in fact are highly educated, aware, creative, and teaching their own children (many of which are arriving at voting age soon).

Santorum’s large family has also played a unique role in the debate over the dignity and sanctity of life.

Then there is Ron Paul.

The phenomenon of Ron Paul might best be summed up in contrast to the Democratic candidate. Obama was first projected as some sort of life-saving unifier, but he has proved to be a divisive leader whose views are at odds with the American majority.

Paul, on the other hand, serves as a unifier with a remarkably wide appeal that has steadily grown during Obama’s term. Whether they be Calvinist, Messianic, atheist, Christian conservative, libertarian, paranoid conspiracy theorists, sober constitutional law scholars or disaffected Democrats, Paul unites a wider bloc of citizens than I would ever dare ask of a candidate.

Who would have expected to find such in the elderly congressman from Texas?

I must confess that sometimes I joined in the fray that cheered at Paul’s matchless swashbuckling against monstrous government, rolled eyes at his foreign policy, and laughed at the band of indomitable Paulbots he generated. Paul was the best of candidates, and the worst of candidates. He was the candidate of wisdom, and the candidate of foolishness. Paul was the candidate of the founding fathers, and the candidate of druggies and hippies. Somehow all of that added up into an equation too crazy to vote for.

UNDER-APPRECIATED? Conservatives might be mistaken in hastily dismissing Paul. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas at CPAC (Photo: Associated Press)

Then I humbled myself and did some research.

First I should mention that besides die-hard big government liberals, there are only two major groups of people that wince at Paul – and they are probably one and the same – those who are concerned about supporting Israel, and those who admire George W. Bush. Hopefully this column will address their (okay, our) legitimate concerns.

To stand against Israel is to stand on the wrong side of history. But Paul’s candidacy alerted me to the fact that America at this moment in time might be doing something even worse – claiming to support Israel while actually standing against her. Truth be told, we give more aid to Israel’s not-so-friendly Arab neighbors than we give to Israel herself. About ten times more according to the Congressional Research Service.

Like Sarah Palin said, “[Paul] just wants to go about the protecting of our ally in a different way”. Yet there is more to it than that. In an interview with NewsMax, Paul said, “Stop and consider America’s policy: We give $3 billion a year to Israel in loans; and we give $12 billion or more in assistance to Israel’s self-declared enemies. Some of these are countries that say they will drive Israel into the sea.”

In that same interview, Paul hearkened to the Biblical wisdom that the borrower is the lender’s slave, and that our current policy with foreign aid is misguided and actually a hindrance to Israel. “We should be their friend and their trading partner,” Paul believes. “They are a democracy and we share many values with them. But we should not be their master. We should not dictate where their borders will be nor should we have veto power over their foreign policy…We should share intelligence for mutually agreed-upon goals. We should honor our pledge to refuse any arms sales that would undermine Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. But we should stop interfering with them.”

Interestingly enough, Israel’s own conservative prime minister has articulated the same ideology. Last spring during his address to congress, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu graciously and politely as possible thanked America for support despite our economic difficulties. But he also said with a smile, “My friends, you don’t have to – you don’t need to do nation building in Israel. We’re already built. You don’t need to export democracy to Israel. We’ve already got it. And you don’t need to send American troops to Israel. We defend ourselves.”

When I asked a humanitarian worker in Sudan how Paul’s foreign policy would affect him, he said that Paul’s policy regarding Sudan “would be a lot better than the current US policy, which is horrendous. The State Department is pressuring the South to not get involved in helping their brothers in the North who are getting clobbered right now. Moreover, the US is treating the SPLM-N (the northern rebels) as morally equivalent to the murderous NCP regime, which is a terrorist organization if ever there was one.”

“So, basically the US is supposedly fighting terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, while supporting the Arab Brotherhood thugs in Libya, Egypt, and Sudan. It is a schitzo policy at best which endangers Israel and is contributing to genocide in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, where the civilian population is the main target of the NCP…right now, the US government pulling completely out of the situation would be much better than the current posture.”

He also explained to me that Paul’s policy frees up private Americans to get involved in humanitarian aid, from non-governmental organizations who receive no government funding, “to security companies that want to offer their services to the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement], to private individuals who have compassion and want to do what they can to stop genocide. Right now, the US Government wants to monopolize all intervention in places like Sudan. So, in the long run, I think a Ron Paul foreign policy is much better because it shifts the emphasis on the American ‘government’ intervening in these humanitarian crisis situations to the American ‘people’.”

Former intelligence officer Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer says that of all the presidential candidates, Paul has the most accurate and realistic perspective on Iran, and he thinks that others are ill-advised about Iran’s true scenario. Shaffer told Fox Business’ Judge Napolitano earlier this month, “we have to take a realistic look at what we need to hold sacred regarding our own self-interest as a nation. The idea of involving ourselves in expensive wars – frankly, President Reagan tried to avoid getting us involved in large land conflicts regarding the bombing in Lebanon. He did not want to see us bogged down.”

The key point here is that Paul does not want to weaken or degrade the military, as many of us hastily presumed in knee-jerk reaction to his litanies about expensive wars. Rather, he plans to make our military power more precise and effective, and focus on securing the borders here at home.

If you’re still worried about Paul not being pro-military enough, consider this: Tea Party-leading South Carolina senator Jim DeMint, who hopes Paul stays in the primary race (“until whoever our front-runner is recognizes that the libertarian principles are the conscience of the Republican Party…[and] consistent with conservative beliefs”), said recently, “We’re going to end up with less military than Ron Paul wants if we don’t get our budget under control back home.”

This leads us to the topic that has made Paul a superstar – restoring America now.

At this point I have to ask – why are Republicans naturally so hesitant about endorsing Paul for the presidency? However much we may detest the party establishment, there is a comfort and stability in the familiarity of it. Who wants to trek through wilderness to the promised land when the fantasy of going back to reform Egypt seems so much easier?

Arguably, Romney and Gingrich would be better presidents than Obama, and Santorum might be even better. Each of them would slow down the speedy decline Obama has the country on. But they all function within the play-it-safe Republican paradigm of recent days. In other words, they tend to treat our unconstitutionally big government as tolerable and permissible as long as moral, traditional conservatives are in charge of it.

Paul, on the other hand, condemns the status quo as ineffective and improper for America no matter who happens to be running it. His record and message are consistent no matter what audience or congress he happens to be speaking to. Paul understands and articulates the constitutional precepts of limited federal government better than any other candidate, and knows what sort of bold action it will take to get the United States out of debt.

Paul’s plans and ideas include cutting $1 trillion in spending during the first year of presidency, eliminating five cabinet departments, and giving tax credits to homeschooling families (how about that? He encourages an educational system that is working!). Obviously, if the 2012 election is going to be about restoring America, elections in every branch of government – not just the race for the White House – will be important.

As an Alabama citizen, I have until March to make a final decision at the ballot box. Thus, I will only say this much: I would rather Ron Paul win the Republican nomination than lose it and run as a third party candidate.

Senatorial candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) said at the Values Voter Summit last year that it took Jimmy Carter to give us Ronald Reagan. For all we know, it could have taken Barack Obama to give us Ronald Paul.

Be careful what you say.

 

Amanda Read is an unconventional scholar, a Southerner without an accent, a Christian who hasn’t been a churchgoer in 17 years and a college student who lives with eight younger siblings. A writer and artist, she blogs at www.amandaread.com and is the author of the historical drama screenplay The Crusading Chemist. Amanda is majoring in history and minoring in political science at Troy University.

Keep up with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmandaChristineRead and Twitter:


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Amanda Read

Amanda Read is a columnist for the Communities at The Washington Times. Trained as a historian, skilled as a writer, and aspiring to be a filmmaker, Amanda investigates the ideas behind contemporary culture and politics. A professional writer and researcher, she is also a Christian homeschool graduate, unconventional college graduate, military daughter, and eldest of the nine Read children at Fair Hills Farm. Find more of her work at www.amandaread.com

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