On Libertarians and Ron Paul

Posted on 09 June 2013

By popular demand (i.e., Abbi), I present a brief synopsis of why some people like Ron Paul.

A few points:

  • The most basic ascription of a libertarian is someone who believes in maximal individual liberty and minimal state intervention. Libertarians are in favor of things like gay marriage and drug decriminalization, on the theory that a consenting adult shouldn’t be prohibited from engaging in an action that doesn’t infringe upon the life, liberty or property of another. State regulation is limited to basic infrastructure — including a predictable property-rights regime — intended to provide individuals a defense against force or fraud by others. Libertarians tend to be non-interventionists in international affairs and favor user fees instead of taxes for public goods. They’re also often more trusting of the free-market system despite occasionally demonstrating cynicism about very large corporations and multinationals.
  • Libertarians often (but not always) align with Republicans on many issues, because many Republicans tend to favor smaller government and lower taxation. However, this association strained during the George W. Bush years; libertarians did not support intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor did they smile upon the “compassionate conservative” agenda that included Medicare Part D and democracy-building across the world.
  • The above notwithstanding, there’s really no such thing as a “typical libertarian” any more than there’s a typical conservative or liberal. Adherents of libertarian thought argue robustly among themselves about various aspects of their ideology, perhaps even more so than denizens of other main ideologies.
  • Some libertarians — again, like some liberals and conservatives — have their hobbyhorses. Ron Paul, for example, doesn’t much care for the Federal Reserve System and America’s current monetary policy. Paul doesn’t much care for “fiat money” — that is, money issued solely on the credit of the issuing government — and favors a return to a gold-backed dollar. The dollar was actually backed by gold until as recently as 1971, when President Nixon unilaterally terminated the convertibility of U.S. dollars into gold.
  • Ron Paul is, by all accounts, a highly intelligent man. He’s also not much of a team player; House leadership could rarely count on him to vote against his principles for the sake of a party goal. Some characterize him as a crank. Others think he’s a modern-day Cato.
  • Many young people who favor conservative economic policy but remain uncomfortable with the quasi-evangelical social policy of today’s GOP aligned with Ron Paul.

Questions? Bueller? Bueller?


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