Every election year brings out one or two quirky candidates that appear to have little chance of winning more than a seat on a local city council or if they are fortunate, a seat in the House of Representatives. This year, quirky candidates are extremist, main-stream Republicans seeking the presidency and although they may not reach the White House, they are gaining traction among Christian conservatives and anti-government groups that gave rise to the tea party in 2010 and resulted in Republicans taking control of the House. The 2010 elections gave Americans a glimpse of what electing extremists to positions of power means for the nation and although the tea party’s popularity is in decline, another quirky candidate is rising in popularity among conservatives and some mainstream Republicans.
Ron Paul’s third run for the presidency is different than in previous years and his Libertarian policies have caught up to Republicans who embrace his small government, state’s rights, and decreased taxes mantra that Paul has espoused for years. Ron Paul is no longer a fringe candidate, but his Libertarian ideology, if implemented, is as extreme as any tea party candidate and ultimately just as dangerous for America and its people. It is unfortunate that more Americans lack an understanding of Libertarianism because even Paul’s supporters would rail against some of his remedies for the country if he were elected president.
It has been well-reported that Paul’s racist views from the past are cause for concern, and last week he flaunted an endorsement of an anti-gay evangelical preacher who advocated for capital punishment as a “restorative” measure to prevent homosexuality. Paul removed the press release announcing the anti-gay preacher’s endorsement, but the preacher’s reason for endorsing him informs the dangers of electing a Libertarian who would give states latitude to implement harsh biblical laws. Under a Libertarian’s vision for America, giving individual states the right to make and enforce their own laws heralds a dark time for the country and its citizens.
Libertarians envision a country with every citizen fending for themselves with no federally enforced equal rights protections or programs to maintain and build roads, schools, hospitals, or regulations to protect consumers. In fact, Ron Paul said that as president, he would immediately eliminate five federal departments of Energy, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Education. He would end war spending and recall all U.S. forces from overseas, end foreign aid, and abolish the IRS and Federal Reserve. Paul’s vision for America is 50 states that make up their own laws irrespective of constitutional rights, and leave Americans at the mercy of the wealthy elite. If one talks to a Ron Paul supporter, they support the philosophy of anything goes and everyone is on their own, but upon further review and reflection, few Americans really advocate for being left on their own.
Libertarianism is a wealthy person’s dream with no regulations or taxes and no concern for anyone but themselves. The wealthy have financial security to pay for private schools, private security, private fire departments, private roads, and private airports and for them, go it on your own works well; especially when their corporations avoid regulations, consumer protection laws, and taxes. However, for everyone else, Libertarianism means a return to frontier America where each family provides all the services the government provides today. There are few Americans who can afford to individually pay for services their tax dollars provide as part of being an American citizen, and yet it is astonishing the number of supporters Ron Paul has amassed over the years.
The notion of a Libertarian president who eliminates entire departments that preside over and regulate education, commerce, housing and energy as well as the IRS responsible for assessing and collecting taxes the federal government uses to guarantee all Americans are protected and educated is a nightmare scenario. Ron Paul’s idea of returning power to states means that cash-strapped states and communities that cannot fund basic necessities such as fire protection will have no option but to allow homes to burn to the ground unless individuals band together and pay, by subscription, for a fire truck and fire fighters.
Two weeks ago in Tennessee, a couple watched their home burn to the ground as firefighters stood by and watched because the couple did not pay an annual subscription fee. The local mayor defended fire fighters and said if they responded to non-subscribers, no-one would have an incentive to pay their fee. It is the second time in a year that South Fulton policy allowed first responders to watch, with equipment in hand, as a home burned to the ground. In Ron Paul’s Libertarian vision for America, homes burning to the ground and vicious rapes would be spectator events for first responders if residents could not afford to buy a subscription for law enforcement or fire protection.
Ron Paul will not be elected president, but his ideology that was quirky and fringe a decade ago is part and parcel of the Republicans drive to eliminate the federal government. In one of the Republican debates a month ago, Rick Perry struggled to remember the departments he would eliminate if he were elected as president, but the idea of eliminating entire departments is relatively novel; except in Libertarian ideology. The pre-Civil War, state’s rights secessionist movement is gaining traction as the Tenther Movement that espouses that many United States government actions are unconstitutional and wants to allow each state to have autonomy to make laws without regard for federal protections such as civil rights, women’s rights, and anti-discrimination laws. The result is 50 separate little fiefdoms that, depending on the population, can pass laws based on theology or oligarchy without intervention of the federal government to stop archaic activities like executing homosexuals, or women for giving birth out of wedlock.
Republicans could not care less about whether or not a home burns down or gays are executed by stoning. Their main impetus is eliminating regulations that prevent corporations from unfair business practices and ending taxation for the wealthy. Ron Paul’s small government has identical goals as Republicans and except for his idea of greatly reducing defense spending and foreign aid, he will garner support from many main-stream Republican voters; especially the racists and homophobes in the extremist Christian conservative segment of the population.
As Americans have witnessed since Barack Obama’s election victory three years ago, Republicans bolstered by racists in the tea party have lurched so far right, that a one-time novelty candidate like Ron Paul whose quirky, fringe political philosophy was laughable, is now mainstream in Republican ranks and it demonstrates just how far the country is regressing back to pre-Civil War America and frontier sensibilities where government did not exist and each family was on their own. The sad truth is that regardless of which Republican earns their party’s nomination for president, the result of a GOP victory will be an America with no federal government and a Libertarian’s dream that benefits only the wealthy and their corporations; a dream Republicans have fostered since Ronald Reagan was president.