February 1, 2008

An Inside Look at Ron Paul, Part 2

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

This three-part series about GOP Presidential candidate Ron Paul is based on a UWire conference call he recently participated in with colleges and universities across the nation. The original audio of the conference call can be found here. Additionally, the audio podcast of this article, downloadable here and also playable at the bottom of this article, will contain the audio from the conference call wherever Paul is quoted.

Ron Paul on the Issues

On the issues, Ron Paul receives the most publicity for his calls to withdraw completely from Iraq. Paul seeks to fundamentally change the direction of U.S. foreign policy, hoping to end all U.S. intervention in foreign countries, including both foreign aid and foreign sanctions. Some have branded him an isolationist for this, but Ron Paul tries to draw a distinction between non-interventionism and isolationism. “I’m a noninterventionist,” Paul notes, “I happen to believe in free trade and travel, and I’d like to see us trading with Cuba, and I think we have isolationism now.” So long as America trades with other countries and nothing more, Paul will not object to dealing with other nations. In fact, he likes to compare his foreign policy with that of another President. “It’s exactly what Bush ran on in the 2000. He said, ‘No policing of the world, no nation-building,’ and this is very Republican, very traditional, very Constitutional.'” So although he lines up more closely with the Democrats on Iraq, Paul hopes to convince Republicans to scale back their foreign policy objectives.

Ron Paul may line up closer to the Democrats on the Iraq War and also the Patriot Act, but they could not be farther apart on domestic issues. More of a libertarian than a liberal, Paul views domestic policy through the same lens he views foreign policy and personal liberty. “Liberty is one unit; you don’t have personal, social-type liberties separate from economic liberties. They are one and the same.” The government should not impose its will, Paul states, whether on one country or one person. Paul advocates the freedom of choice the free market provides, which he believes will solve healthcare among other problems. “Your computers aren’t going up in price, TV prices aren’t going up, cell phones prices aren’t going up, because they’re delivered by the marketplace,” notes Paul, contrasting the market with the government, “But in medicine, where there’s technology available, it doesn’t lower prices…and that is because the government is involved.” From Paul’s point of view, freedom of choice affects not only our liberties but also the price of commodities.

On the economy, Ron Paul believes the problem lies within the Federal Reserve. He states that by injecting too much money into the economy, the Federal Reserve has created the boom, and an economic downturn will inevitably occur after the boom, an occurrence known as the business cycle. Paul believes now that the housing bubble has popped and credit has gone south, the Federal Reserve will only make the situation worse by lowering interest rates. “The longer we prop up on a flawed system, trying to reinflate the bubble, the longer it will take to make the correction,” Paul warns. The recent interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve also sent the value of the dollar down, causing further concern for Paul: “That means your cost of everybody’s education is going to skyrocket, the cost of energy is going to go up,” Paul asserts. Ultimately, he advocates abolishing the Federal Reserve, bringing money back to America not through the Fed’s monetary policies, but by drastically cutting overseas spending, shifting our money and resources from over there to right here.

While Ron Paul’s view to this point can best be described as libertarian (though he considers them very Republican and traditional), some libertarians have criticized Paul for his pro-life stance. If Paul supports freedom of choice, as they say, then he should take the pro-choice stance. Responding to this, Paul focuses not on the mother’s choice, but on the status of the embryo. “The only question that exists is whether or not there is another human life.” If that embryo is human life, and Ron Paul, partially influenced by his career as an OBGYN, believes it is life, then to him it follows that the unborn has its own rights which the government has an obligation to protect. “It isn’t so much protecting only the mother’s rights, but you have this other life that we have to deal with.” Not wanting to harm anyone, whether mother or child, Paul finds that abortion leads to unnecessary violence against the unborn.

Socially, the other candidates have different ideas of how the government should enact social change, and while Paul does believe in the broad idea of social changes, at the same time he questions whether government should be the agent of change. “If there’s going to be promotion of excellence and virtue and social changes to our benefit, it certainly ought to be out of the realm of government.” Whether the intentions are good or not, Paul rejects changes promoted by the government, labeling them as mandates, which he says cuts back on personal liberties. Coupled with the idea of personal liberty, Paul advocates the promotion of social change through only one unit: the person. “But basic social changes and social improvements, and whether it’s religious values or even educational value or community values, this has to be done voluntarily.” For although different people value different things, in Ron Paul’s eyes, every government policy should value the Constitution and personal liberties above all else.

Mike Wacker is The Sun’s Assistant Web Editor. He can be reached at mwacker@cornellsun.com.