by Jacob G. Hornberger
As Ron Paul continues to surge in Iowa, the attacks on him and on libertarianism are increasing. That’s, of course, not surprising, especially since Paul is now in the top position in the Iowa polls. But at the very least, you would expect the attacks to have some substance to them. Unfortunately, such is not the case with conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg, who has just published one of the silliest attacks on Paul that one could ever imagine.
Goldberg’s article, entitled “Ron Paul’s Naïve Promises,” appears in today’s issue of the Los Angeles Times. In his article, Goldberg actually goes out of his way to say that he agrees with much of what Paul stands for.
So, what’s Goldberg’s attack?
He says that Ron Paul won’t be able to persuade the members of Congress to embrace his positions and, therefore, it would make no sense to elect Paul to the presidency.
Why, if that’s the worst attack on Ron Paul, he can count himself a very lucky man.
That’s just downright silly!
Here’s what Goldberg’s argument boils down to: Congress is filled with statists, both conservatives and liberals. They all love big government. They all love the warfare-welfare state. They are incorrigible. They love America’s vast military empire, the invasions and occupations and endless war, torture, infringements on civil liberties, military detention, socialism, interventionism, the drug war, and so forth.
Therefore, Goldberg’s argument apparently goes, the only thing American voters can do is elect a statist to the presidency—that is, a person who can work with Congress—which, it seems to me, guarantees even more statism!
So, if people are realizing that the big-government direction in which conservatives and liberals have taken our nation is wrong and destructive, they’re apparently supposed to reject the candidate who reflects their views and instead vote for a candidate that does not reflect their views.
That’s ridiculous. Maybe even whacko or loony.
What Goldberg fails to recognize is that most members of Congress are not ideologues. They are instead chameleons. If the color of their environment changes, their positions change. Their primary objective is to get reelected, and if that means flip-flopping, then they’re going to be doing lots and lots of flip-flopping as public opinion shifts.
Take the drug war, for instance, perhaps the most failed, immoral, and destructive domestic program in U.S. history, a war that Paul and other libertarians have long opposed. Most members of Congress continue to support it, but only because they think it would be political suicide to call for drug legalization. If public opinion were all of a sudden to embrace the libertarian position, the members of Congress would be doing so as well.
Yesterday, I was at the Fox News studio to appear on “Freedom Watch” to comment on the Ron Paul surge in Iowa. After I had done the segment and was preparing to leave, a man in the waiting room told me that Ron Paul needed to water down his foreign policy views if he expected to get elected. It wasn’t exactly the same argument as Goldberg’s but it was a variation.
Like Goldberg, that guy just doesn’t get it. As a libertarian, Ron Paul has a certain set of beliefs and convictions. If he changed them or watered them down in order to get elected, he’d be no different from any other politician. What makes Paul different—indeed, what makes libertarians different from statists—is that libertarians won’t abandon their principles for the sake of expediency.
Moreover, what that guy fails to realize is such integrity is one of the reasons that people are surging to Paul’s campaign. They’re sick and tired of politicians who change their positions in accordance with how the political winds are blowing. Equally important, if Ron Paul were to become like other politicians, he knows that he would very quickly lose his base of passionate and committed supporters.
It’s clear that statists from both the left and right are getting more and more nervous about the Ron Paul phenomenon. You can see them walking with their heads down, mumbling repeatedly, “He can’t win. He can’t win.”
But what’s really making them nervous is that an increasing number of people are now moving toward libertarian ideas, rejecting the big-government statism that has taken our nation down the road to moral debauchery and financial bankruptcy.
The statists just don’t know what to do about. Ignore it? Ridicule it? Nash their teeth? Or level silly attacks on it? Whatever they do, the libertarian tide just seems to grow.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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