Archive for April 22nd, 2008

by Pete Talbot

Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul has a seductive message: get the U.S. out of Iraq, get the government out of personal lives, and put the country on a sound financial footing.

The words “liberty” and “freedom” are often invoked in his stump speech. Paul, also referred to as the “Doctor” or “Dr. Paul,” praises the free market, wants waaay less government, insists on self reliance and supports a strict immigration policy. (A sign in the crowd read, “Our Ailing Nation Needs a Doctor.”)

He spoke to about 1000 people at the University Center Ballroom on Monday night. It was a mix of shaggy college-age kids, some young movers-and-shakers in suits, a few home-schoolers, a smattering of cowboy hats and blue-collar Montanans, and some seniors. Compared to the Obama and Clinton events, there weren’t as many little kids or women. The level of enthusiasm, however, was just about as high as Obama and comparable to Clinton.

He plays the part of the rebel. He says he’s “the biggest thorn in the establishment’s side” and he wants people to “stand up and resist!”

Paul promotes a tasty recipe for his supporters: blending the most appealing talking points from progressives, libertarians and constitutionalists. Voila, you have something that almost everyone can like.

Being the progressive that I am, there were a number of things said that I had to agree with.

To probably the biggest applause of the evening: “End this war!” — it’s hard not to agree with that.

“How you spread democracy is by setting an example” and, hinting at the current administration, “we should teach a few people in this country about democracy.”

He’s anti-Patriot Act. He opposes FISA and warrantless searches. He’s against torture: “We’re known around the world as torturers.”

Our current economic policy “destroys the middle class and sends money to the Wall Street rich.”

This is all good stuff. Scratch the surface, though, and you see some problems.

For example, instead of “wasting our money overseas” rebuilding war-torn countries (like Iraq), we should be “taking care of the bridges in our country.” It’s a popular message but he goes on to say we need to “get rid of income tax” — a line that brought big cheers. But, how are you going to pay for bridges without taxes?

We “shouldn’t be the policeman of the world” (to more cheers) but he wants us out of the United Nations (even more cheers). So, I guess nobody is going to keep on eye on the world — genocide in Rwanda and Darfur, peace negotiations in the Middle East … Tibet, Haiti, Pakistan — hey, you’re all on your own.

According to Dr. Paul, our government says “we’re not smart enough to know what to put in our own bodies” and he wants to scrap laws that deal with marijuana, food labeling, even raw milk. Our bodies are ours to do with as we please — except for a woman’s right to choose. “I’m pro-life,” he says.

Another thing that troubled me was what he didn’t say — no mention of the environment or global warming or energy issues. I guess the free market will take care of those things, because it has addressed those issues so well to date. (Sarcasm mine.)

“Restore liberty to America” was his closing line. Nothing wrong with that. But again, it sounds like the politics of fear being ramped up even more: fear your government and its institutions, and trust only in yourself, your family and (maybe) your neighbors.

I still prefer the politics of hope.

(I attended Paul’s speech with Jay Stevens, 4&20’s founding father. He currently does most of his writing over at Left in the West. Although we had many similar observations, he came away with a bit different, and less cynical, conclusion. But then he’s young. Read it here.)

  • Pages

  • Recent Comments

    Miles on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    success rate for In… on Thirty years ago ARCO killed A…
    Warrior for the Lord on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Linda Kelley-Miller on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Dan on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    Former Prosecutor Se… on Former Chief Deputy County Att…
    JediPeaceFrog on Montana AG Tim Fox and US Rep.…
  • Recent Posts

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,691,709 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,735 other followers
  • April 2008
    S M T W T F S
  • Categories