Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ron Paul in Phoenix

Last night I attended a small event where Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) spoke about his candidacy for president as a Republican. I found it a bit of a disappointment. On the plus side, he is making opposition to both the drug war and the war in Iraq a major part of his campaign. He also opposes warrantless wiretapping, the USA PATRIOT Act, and the Military Commissions Act. And in response to a question from one of several atheists present, he indicated his support for the separation of church and state (and opposition to Bush's faith-based initiatives). On the minus side, his stance on illegal immigration is to "secure the border," deny benefits to illegal immigrants, and eliminate birthright citizenship. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's stance on illegal immigration (double Border Patrol officers, implement a guest worker program, and provide a mechanism for illegal immigrants to pay a fine and become legal residents) makes a whole lot more sense than that. Also on the minus side, as Sameer Parekh has pointed out at his blog, his stance on free trade is to oppose anything that he sees as a compromise on free trade (like major free trade agreements), which makes him look like he's pandering to protectionists--his web page makes no indication that he support free trade, which strikes me as dishonest.

Nutjob Arizona State Senator Karen Johnson was there, and she asked a question about Bush's "stealth campaign" to establish a North American Union; Paul responded that he opposes creation of such an entity and a common currency for such an economic area (the "amero"). This is going into WorldNetDaily and Alex Jones conspiracy theorist territory, conflating the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (a meeting between the three heads of state to increase economic cooperation) with the ideas of Robert Pastor, a professor at American University, about creating a political union. If the EU can't approve a Constitution (with France and the Netherlands rejecting it) and still has holdouts on the euro (Britain and Norway), how likely is it that countries as different as the U.S., Mexico, and Canada would combine into a single political entity?

I'm glad Ron Paul has provided a consistent voice in Congress against the war in Iraq and erosion of our civil liberties in the name of the global war on terror, but I'm afraid he probably wouldn't make a very good president (though I did make a small contribution to his campaign which I'm feeling some buyer's remorse for this morning). My preference is to see a Democratic president and split control of Congress--gridlock seems to be the most effective way of achieving economic growth and slowing the erosion of our civil liberties.

UPDATE (April 12, 2007): The argument that Paul makes about illegal immigration--that we should stop it because of the impact on welfare--is aptly turned on its head in this post from last year at David Friedman's blog.

UPDATE (February 11, 2008): Here's a debunking of a number of Ron Paul claims, including the NAFTA superhighway.


JStrummer said...

Absolutely. Paul brings out the nutjobs and conspiracy theorists. Also, he does use free trade absolutism to make himself appeal to protectionists and xenophobes, and his position on immigration is horrible. That said, he does oppose the war and the PATRIOT act, and those aren't bad qualities.

Still the best we can hope for is a divided government at this point, and maybe pray that the democrats roll back bush administration excesses. That won't likely happen, however.

Gigaplex said...

Ron Paul is the only candidate that I have ever actually been genuinely excited about, lol. The reason is because he believes that the constitution should not be violated. It's a unique idea that I believe would benefit the country. There aren't any other candidates that are doing this so his lack of competition may give him a good chance.

The democrats are in power now and they are not doing much to reverse the damage done. They don't have the balls to impeach the president. They are also quite corrupted. Neither the democrats nor the republicans have been anywhere close to following the constitution.

Oh and I should mention, I remember him talking about the immigration thing and his motives are interesting. He was talking about how Mexicans could come in and get free money (welfare or some other socialized program) and that we need to stop the free lunch. He is extremely concerned about the country's financial condition and doesn't think we can afford to be this generous.

He feels that the fastest most effective way for him to fix this free lunch problem would be to secure the borders since that is something he could do immediately and is within his constitutional powers.

Jim Lippard said...

Gigaplex: If the problem is "the free lunch" of welfare, why does it matter whether the recipients are new immigrants or people already living here? If welfare is the problem, why not address the problem--why should some people be treated differently just because they were born in a different geographic location?