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Ron Paul: Wrong but Right

I’ve got to admit that most of my TIVO-less heart was heavy with the idea of missing Survivor and Wife Swap just to watch a bunch of Republican losers clear ideological brush at the Reagan Ranch.

What space was left in my heart went out to Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas libertarian who is wrong about immigration (he’s basically against it) and what he says is the dire need for a return to the gold standard (what he calls “sound money”). Yet there Paul was, saying all the right things about:

  • The upside of free expression,
  • The downside of spending that’s every bit as bloated as Ted Kennedy’s mortal coil,
  • Federal overreach into everything up to and including Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube,
  • The lunacy of a “tamper-proof” national ID card (which several debaters averred would only apply to immigrants–as if us real Americans would be self-evident to coppers,
  • Foreign policy.

Paul was the only guy on the platform who seemed to realize fully that the 2006 midterm elections were about Iraq — a war that has been botched beyond belief not only in execution but in conception. We can’t be “Globocop” and we shouldn’t be trying.

We ought to be going after the bad guys who have and will again attack the United States. We should also be out promoting freedom at home and abroad by maximizing our individual liberty and supporting the integration of the world through free markets. Free markets which in and of themselves lead to free minds.

It was heartening to hear all these Republicans talk about devolving abortion and other issues back to the states where they belong (or at least are less divisive). It was good to hear them decry the spending that many of them abetted. Then they went on to extol the virtues of free markets in health care, education, and even goods and services! (Alas, none of them seemed to think that people as much as bananas should be able to cross borders with minimal restrictions.) All these things sounded good.

But until the GOP starts actively discussing a foreign policy that goes beyond either doubling down in Iraq or dreaming of bombing Iran, they aren’t yet offering voters what they need to hear: a reason to turn off Survivor and embrace the party that brought us the last six sorry years of foreign adventurism and domestic budget terrorism. The GOP might want to listen more closely to what Ron Paul is actually saying about the issues.

Nick Gillespie is the Editor-in-Chief of Reason, “the libertarian monthly named one of ‘The 50 Best Magazines’ three out of the past four years by the Chicago Tribune.” His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Slate, Salon, Time.com, Marketplace, and many other places.

He is a frequent poster at the Reason blog, Hit & Run.