Ron Paul Is Not Crazy; He's Restoring Sanity
I should start by pointing out that I am hardly a fervent Ron Paul supporter. Yes, I will probably vote for him in the general election if he should happen to get the Republican nomination (not that I that's likely). If he is not nominated, however, I will either vote for Obama or not vote.
Even if I can vote for Paul, I will hardly be enthusiastic about him. He's the least evil of the dozen or so running for the presidency.
That being said, it is important in any debate to address real issues, and not just regurgitate popular sound bites. If you have a real objection to a candidate or to a position, state that objection, but don't just insult people for no reason.
Probably 95 percent of the criticisms I've heard of Dr. Paul involve some variation on "that guy is crazy." I've heard this from friends, family, co-workers and professors. It's a defense mechanism: If you know nothing about politics but for some reason need to pretend to have opinions, Ron Paul's purported insanity is a great topic.
No one, of course, bothers to actually demonstrate that Paul is not right in the head. Are there medical records demonstrating that he is not mentally sound? Does he claim to be fleeing a Soviet plot on his life? Did he keep watching "Glee" after the second season? People just say that he's crazy, as if it were self-evident.
This is significant because it obscures real issues. Unlike virtually any other candidate, Paul proposes policies that might actually change things if enacted. If he is crazy, however, it is easy to assume that all of his proposals are absurd, thus precluding any debate on the topic.
Another problem with the "Paul is crazy" defense mechanism is that it obscures far better reasons for hating him.
For one thing, Paul has a long history of pork-barrel spending. He has brought hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks back to his home district, often for completely inane projects, such as subsidizing the shrimp industry. Paul defends this on the grounds that he is making up for the taxes taken out of his district, but that's absurd; such an argument could justify any spending.
Then there's the issue of Paul's immigration stance. In between speeches on the virtues of free markets and free trade, Paul has called to deport all undocumented immigrants.
This is, of course, blatant hypocrisy. There is no libertarian case to secure the border; immigration is just another form of trade, and one cannot oppose government intervention in the economy while simultaneously wanting the government to tell people where to live. The congressman has defended his position on the grounds that he merely wants to uphold the law, but that presupposes that American immigration laws are just.
Some will also make the case that illegal immigrants scam the welfare system, but any intelligent libertarian will see that this misses the point. Government will continue to grow regardless of who is on the welfare rolls, and if the immigrants didn't take these benefits, someone else would.
The solution is to get rid of government spending, not to punish particular group that benefits from it. Besides, mass deportation cannot be a rational solution; the expansion of government necessary to deport 10 million to 20 million people would far outweigh any saving in welfare spending.
Finally, there's the issue of race. While Paul's "racist" comments are somewhat ambiguous, they could represent dangerous sentiments. It's certainly conceivable that Paul is racist; his fallacious immigration views would make far more sense in that light.
So Paul is a hypocrite, and may also be racist. These are real reasons to oppose him. People should be talking about these issues rather than arbitrarily declaring his insanity and then changing the subject.
Of course, when people say that Paul is crazy, what they really mean is that he is outside the mainstream. His views are radical, and he takes positions that most Americans would never even consider. He's crazy, people say, because he's on the fringe.
Certainly Paul's views are radical, but since when does that define him as nuts? Many clearly fallacious ideologies, such as racism or sexism, were once commonly held; the mainstream is hardly a realm of sanity.
A far better criterion for deciding whether an idea is crazy is coherence, but this would seem to make Paul considerably saner than most of his critics. The idea that the government can promote freedom by bombing people is crazy. The idea that the government can spend its way out of a recession is crazy.
If anything, Paul is restoring sanity to the political arena, not abandoning it.
Moore Countian Andrew Soboeiro is a student at UNC-Chapel Hill.
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