June 22, 2018

Why Santorum supporters should stand with Ron Paul

TAMPA, April 10, 2012 — Rick Santorum and Ron Paul clashed frequently during the GOP debates. Santorum and his supporters suspected that Paul had made a deal with Romney, but that wasn’t it at all. Santorum and Paul had genuine disagreements about issues that matter. What is American conservatism? Is it libertarian or not? Should religious beliefs inform public policy or should the separation of church and state be absolute? In a way, it’s a shame that the race was not solely between Paul and Santorum. These are questions worthy of public discussion, unlike Mitt Romney’s tax returns or Newt Gingrich’s marital adventures.

I am a libertarian and tend to agree with Ron Paul. I tend to disagree with Rick Santorum on most things, but not on everything. However, I do grant him this. He was the most sincere of Paul’s opponents. Call me naïve, but I am convinced that he believes the things he is saying.

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Rick Santorum is Unelectable

Since the beginning of the Republican Presidential Primary race, we have heard that Ron Paul is unelectable. While many conservatives like some of Paul’s ideas on domestic policy, his non-interventionist foreign policy is supposedly a deal-breaker. Even in articles praising Paul on particular issues, reporters have without exception felt compelled to remind us that there is absolutely no chance that Ron Paul will win the Republican nomination for president.  This “unelectable” label has been used exclusively against Paul.

With only four candidates left in the race, the lead has changed hands several times. The current leader is Rick Santorum, fresh off primary wins in Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri. Since those victories, the media have been trumpeting Santorum as the new frontrunner while completely ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room – Rick Santorum is unelectable.

With a plethora of debates behind us, we have had a chance to get to know the Republican candidates pretty well. All of the Republican candidates except for Ron Paul support some sort of federal government prohibition on gay marriage. Paul actually wants to get even the state governments out of the marriage business, taking the libertarian position that marriage is just a contract like any other. This has visibly upset Santorum, who not only opposes gay marriage but seems completely obsessed with homosexuality in general. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t believe, deep down, that Santorum wouldn’t support making homosexuality illegal again if he thought he could get away with it?

Most Republican voters put the federal budget at or near the top of their priority list as far as their political positions are concerned. Not Rick Santorum. The issues page on his website has the budget thirteenth on the page. What is the number one issue? “Enforcing Laws Against Illegal Pornography,” which Rick says “causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences.” Queue the eerie music because we’re just getting started. Update: Since this article was published, Santorum’s staff has changed the order of the issues on his issue page. He has moved “Enforcing Laws Against Illegal Pornography” to last on the page, moving the federal budget up to 12th by default. Gay marriage now comes in at Number Two.

Number two on his list is “No More Leading from Behind for America,” which is basically the standard Republican Party line that the U.S. military should be deployed in just about every nation on earth. I happen to think that is crazy, but most Republicans don’t. However, number three on the list is gay marriage. So, out of the top three issues listed on his page, pornography and homosexuality are two of them.

To say that Rick is “a little uptight” is a gross understatement. Santorum has stated unequivocally that he believes that the federal government can and should regulate the bedroom. In fact, he has also said that there is no area of life that is beyond the government’s reach. Outside of the few states where evangelicals can allow him to get away with these positions, he simply cannot win. Voters in the more moderate states like New York and California – which control the bulk of the delegates – will find these ideas repugnant.

The media has often supported the “Ron Paul is unelectable” narrative by criticizing his supporters. I’m not sure what the beliefs of some of his supporters have to do with Paul’s fitness for the presidency, but the punditry believes it is a valid line of inquiry.

So, some of Ron Paul’s supporters believe in elaborate conspiracy theories. The most prevalent revolves around quasi-secret organizations like the Bilderbergs and the Trilateral Commission. The theory is that very wealthy families like the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers use these organizations to further a plot to establish a world government. Some people think this theory is “a little kooky.” Not all or even most Paul supporters hold these views, but let’s say that a significant minority do.

Now, let’s consider the views of a significant minority of the evangelicals that support Rick Santorum. They are fierce supporters of the U.S. government’s wars in the Middle East because they believe that if Jewish people do not control the city of Jerusalem, then…wait for it…Jesus will not return to earth during the “end time,” which they also believe will occur any minute now. They are willing to elect leaders who will take America to war based upon this belief, which ranks up there with the “precious bodily fluids” theory from Dr. Strangelove.

I’m not even 100% sure that Santorum doesn’t believe this himself. Someone should ask him. Certainly, there have been much sillier questions put to candidates during the debates. I for one would like to at least get this crossed off the long list of idiotic theories that inform the president.

Regardless of Santorum’s answer to that question, which it is only fair to assume would be “no,” his other positions still nullify any chance of him becoming president. From all reports, Santorum is a decent person and a good father, and there is certainly nothing wrong with having strong religious convictions. However, the vast majority of Americans do not believe that those convictions should be imposed upon other people with the force of law. Rick Santorum does. That alone makes it obvious that Rick Santorum is never going to be president. So why hasn’t the media proclaimed him unelectable as they have Ron Paul?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The GOP Can’t Complain When Ron Paul Supporters Cry Foul

It’s still early in the Republican primary season. Only 9 of the 41 primaries/caucuses have occurred. The nomination is a long way from being decided. Any one of the four remaining candidates can not only still win it, but can still win it by a landslide. Large victories on Super Tuesday and in the California, New York, and Texas contests can all but nullify any value of victories obtained so far. So why do the candidates fight so hard to win in small states like Maine and Nevada?

The answer is momentum. Right or wrong, most voters are in some way affected by their perception of whether each candidate has the ability to win, rather than strictly by their political positions. Republican primary voters consider two questions. Can he win the nomination? Can he win the general election?

Thus, victories in these early and – from a quantitative perspective – meaningless primary contests are valuable to candidates purely for the effect they may have on the minds of voters in bigger states.

Ron Paul has chosen to focus his campaign on the caucus states, where he can acquire delegates even if he does not finish first in the contest. That strategy seems to have been successful so far, as Paul has locked up delegates in excess of his percentage of the straw poll votes. However, he and his supporters also know that he needs a win in at least one state to avoid going into the big contests with the disadvantage of not having one.

Paul’s best shots to win so far have been the caucuses in Iowa, Nevada, and Maine. Since long before the voting started, Paul’s supporters have had their eyes on these states due to the receptiveness there to Paul’s ideas and the conduciveness of their caucus processes to Paul’s strong political ground game. Paul finished in striking distance of first in Iowa and lost by less than 200 votes in Maine. He finished far behind Romney in Nevada, but was in contention for a very respectable 2nd place finish. He ended up finishing a close third to Newt Gingrich.

Coincidentally, those three caucuses where Paul had the best chance to win are the only three states where some sort of controversy or irregularity has arisen in the election process. The latest of these was in Maine, where the Washington County caucus was postponed due to a relatively benign (for Maine) weather forecast of 1-3 inches of snow. The Ron Paul campaign’s official statement pointed out that the Girl Scouts went ahead with one of their events in the very same county.

Washington County is one of Paul’s strongest in the state. It will hold its contest on Saturday February 18 and a lopsided victory there and in other towns that have not yet voted could conceivably allow Paul to win the state. However, Paul will have been denied the real value of his victory – the post-election, nationally-televised victory speech where all of those future primary voters see him firing up a raucous crowd of supporters.

In addition, Maine GOP Executive Director Michael Quatrano says that the Romney win on Saturday won’t be reversed even if Paul does end up finishing with more votes based upon the remaining counties. This is in stark contrast to Iowa, where Rick Santorum was announced as the winner several weeks after a Republican Party victory. Why the different treatment? It’s a legitimate question to ask.

It is not reasonable to assume that this all adds up to some sort of dark conspiracy against Ron Paul. There are many possible explanations, the simplest one being ineptitude. At the same time, it is naïve to deny that Paul’s campaign is opposed by the party establishment or to believe that this process is ever squeaky clean in any election year, regardless of who’s running. As government privileges give the two major parties a virtual monopoly on the political process, all primary elections should be watched closely for signs of corruption or fraud.

One shouldn’t rush to judgment on a charge that serious in a presidential election without compelling proof. That proof hasn’t been presented by anyone so far. However, when irregularities continue to occur and only in states where Paul has a good chance to win, an odor starts to arise that doesn’t smell like coincidence anymore. If this trend continues, then the GOP leadership shouldn’t complain if Ron Paul supporters start crying foul.

There are three contests left before Super Tuesday: Arizona, Michigan, and Washington. The Washington caucuses are Ron Paul’s best chance for a victory. Fairly or not, the pressure is on the Washington GOP to ensure that no appearance of impropriety occurs during this contest, especially if Ron Paul is in contention for the win. There is one way that they can avoid contributing to an unnecessary controversy. Run a clean and transparent election. Follow your own rules and don’t make any suspicious changes to procedure. Given the GOP’s performance so far this election cycle, one more coincidence will turn that funny odor into a downright stench.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Ron Paul Is Dangerous? Americans Must Start Thinking for Themselves

American politics in the 21st century is about soundbytes, image, and spin. That’s the only way for candidates to try to reach 300 million people in the time that they will likely be in front of them on any given day. For some candidates, the soundbyte is the length and breadth of their views on the issue. For others, that is not necessarily true. In any case, the issues that they speak to are issues of substance and there is no way to form an opinion about them unless you think them through.  That might seem like stating the obvious, but here’s the rub: almost no one is thinking about issues that could profoundly affect all of us for the rest of our lives.

What most Americans are doing is repeating the soundbytes and buzz words that they hear from talking heads as if they were indisputable fact. Maybe some of them are. Maybe some are not. What is crucial is that every individual think about them critically. That means challenging the veracity of those statements and determining for yourself if they stand up to the most vigorous intellectual attack that you can mount against them.

Ron Paul’s opponents use soundbytes to discredit him and Ron Paul does likewise. He has accused Newt Gingrich of “serial hypocrisy” and accused all of his opponents collectively of being “shitzus” on cutting spending. No one should accept those allegations as true without looking into the evidence for and against them and determining for himself whether or not they are true. Part of that process must be the intellectual exercise of taking the position that they are not true and saying to Ron Paul, “Prove it. Newt Gingrich is not a hypocrite just because you said he was in a 30-second TV ad. Where is your proof? I’ll consider it and get back to you.”

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance of mine as we prepared for a class that we take together. He asked me who I was supporting for the Republican nomination and I said that I was supporting Ron Paul. He immediately smiled and said that Ron Paul was too “crazy” for him. Not one to go on the attack just because someone disagrees with me, I calmly replied, “I hear that a lot. Which of his policies do you think are too crazy?”

I was not surprised by the blank stare that I received in response. That was followed by some stammering and searching for an answer. He finally said that it was Ron Paul’s stance on regulations. I asked, “Which regulatory issues do you disagree with him on?” More of the same stammering and searching and finally the answer was “Well, I haven’t caught up on the issues this time around yet, but I remember hearing him talk about a regulation a while back. I can’t remember which one.”

Out of the tens of thousands of pages of federal regulation, he had heard Ron Paul’s views on one of them and had concluded that he was crazy. Not misinformed. Not wrong. Not even very, very wrong. Crazy. Does that sound like a reasonable conclusion to you?

Let’s be honest. This gentleman just made up the whole “stance on regulations” answer to cover for the fact that he had no answer. He had no idea why he thought Ron Paul was crazy. He had heard it on television in a five second soundbyte, had accepted it as true without even four seconds of critical thought, and was now repeating it to other people who for the most part will do likewise.

However, the “Ron Paul is crazy” narrative is losing its effectiveness. It is getting harder and harder for his opponents to make that charge stick. After predicting the stock market crash of 1987 four years in advance and predicting the housing market collapse five years in advance, Ron Paul has emerged as the only candidate who is not crazy by Albert Einstein’s definition (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result).

So Paul’s opponents need a new buzz word. I’m sure you’ve heard it. Ron Paul is now “dangerous.” Not wrong. Not very, very wrong. Not even “crazy” anymore. Now he’s dangerous. That’s an extraordinary claim. I can’t say that I remember it ever being used against another politician. I don’t remember any politician being called “dangerous” during the Cold War, when the Russians had 40,000 nuclear weapons pointed at every major American city. But that is the word that Paul’s opponents use to describe him now. One should immediately wonder why.

Of course you have heard this word repeated by every journalist and talking head as if it were true just because some enterprising young campaign staffer put it out as a talking point. That is fine. That is how the game is played. What is important is that you don’t immediately believe it just because you heard it on television, even if you heard it from a lot of people. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. You have to at least challenge the claim before you decide.

The new “dangerous” tag is based upon the argument that Ron Paul will not preemptively bomb or invade Iran to try to stop them from developing a nuclear weapon. His political opponents (including the other Republicans and Barack Obama) uniformly state that “We cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”  The establishment candidates also assert that Iran will have a nuclear weapon as early as a year from now. That means that whatever the U.S. government is going to do about it must happen now.

Q. What exactly is the danger of electing this man? A. He will “allow” Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

Q. What can the United States do to stop another nation from developing a nuclear weapon? A. Bomb or invade them immediately and destroy their capacity to build it.

Q. What if Ron Paul was president and Iran did develop a nuclear weapon? What would happen next?

Here is where most people completely shut down and stop thinking. The standard answer is that Iran will “wipe Israel off the map” or, even more irrationally, that they will “take out an American city.” Now, I know why Ron Paul’s political opponents say those things and we’ll get to that in a minute. What I’m concerned with is this: How could any rational, average American believe them?

Let’s say that Iran does indeed develop a nuclear weapon by January 2013. They would still be decades away from an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States. However, they may be able to use it against Israel. What happens next?

Nuclear weapons are a terrible thing. I think that most people wish that they didn’t exist. I know I do. But let’s acknowledge reality. Iran could not “wipe Israel off the map” (something Ahmadinejad NEVER EVEN SAID, by the way) with one nuclear weapon. They could kill a lot of people. On the other hand, Israel has 200-300 nuclear weapons. They could wipe Iran off the map and would do so the minute that Iran launched their missile. Every square inch of Iran would be incinerated before Iran’s nuclear missile ever reached Israel, if it got there at all. That is a fact that no reasonable person could dispute. That’s without even broaching the subject of what would happen to Iran if they showed any sign of aggression toward the United States. Think about it. To say that Iran is a danger to Israel or the United States is crazy.

That raises another question. If it indeed is crazy that Iran could ever threaten either the United States or Israel, why would so many politicians and talking heads be saying it? Could it possibly be that these politicians have something to gain if the United States goes to war with Iran?

Is it possible that politicians, supported by military contractors and financial institutions that together make trillions of dollars on these wars at your expense are saying this because they want to keep making more money? Or is it more likely that even though these people will “just happen” to profit immensely from a war with Iran, that they are both sincere and correct that Iran with one nuclear bomb is a threat to Israel and the United States, that between them have tens of thousands?

Ron Paul has argued that the war rhetoric today about Iran is identical to the war rhetoric about Iraq in 2002-2003. Is he right? Aren’t the same people who told us that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” telling us the same thing now about Iran? Aren’t all of the same elements of the argument about Iraq present in the arguments for war with Iran? They are evil. They want to destroy Israel. They are developing weapons of mass destruction. There is even the same time limit. “They may have one as early as a year from now.” That’s just what they told us about Saddam Hussein. There is no time to think it over. Within a year there will be a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv, possibly New York City. Haven’t we heard all of this before? Isn’t it insane to accept the same claims from the same people without question?

Conversely, isn’t Ron Paul telling us the same thing that he told us about Iraq? Exactly why should we believe the people that lied to us or at least were dead wrong about Iraq and dismiss the one man that told us the truth and was dead right about Iraq? How long will we go on doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? Isn’t that crazy?

Dangerous. That’s what you are going to keep hearing about Ron Paul. There is no reasonable argument to be made that Ron Paul’s foreign policy is dangerous. This is an act of desperation by people that are deathly afraid that Ron Paul is going to put them out of business (not just the war-making business, but a trillion dollars of other government waste that he’ll end in his first year as well).

They aren’t appealing to your reason. They are appealing to your emotions. They are trying to strike an irrational fear in you that will cause you to reject Ron Paul, support one of their candidates, and support another unnecessary war that they will profit from at your expense. Again. Just like Iraq. However, there is one thing that you can do to avoid being fooled again.

Think about it.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The Tenth Amendment Run Amok?

In between “gotcha questions” and the Pawlenty-Bachman slurfest, an interesting discussion actually occurred during the Fox News presidential debate staged in Iowa on Thursday night (8/11/2011). It concerned Tim Pawlenty’s quite valid criticism of Mitt Romney’s role in expanding government healthcare in Massachusetts. During Romney’s term as governor, he signed into law a state healthcare plan that served as the basis for what is popularly known today as “Obamacare.”

Romney replied with a defense based upon the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution, saying Massachusetts passed a law that was right for Massachusetts, but President Obama forced a “one size fits all solution” on the entire nation, usurping the powers reserved to the states or the people.

Calling him a “constitutional expert,” panelist Chris Wallace asked Congressman Ron Paul whether the states “have a constitutional right to make someone buy a good or a service just because they are a resident.” Paul replied,

“No, the way I would understand the Constitution, the federal government can’t go in and prohibit the states from doing bad things and I would consider this a very bad thing. But you don’t send in a federal police force because they’re doing it and throw them into court.”

Rick Santorum replied that this argument represented “the Tenth Amendment run amok” and paraphrased Abraham Lincoln saying “the states don’t have the right to do wrong.” He argued that the United States is a nation built upon moral laws, implying that he would support the federal government overriding the state government if an action of the state violated those moral laws.

So, what moral law does “Romneycare” violate and should the federal government step in and intervene?

For libertarians, many aspects of both Romneycare and Obamacare violate the moral law of non-aggression. It initiates force against individuals who have not aggressed against others by forcing them to buy a product. It forcibly steals their money to buy healthcare for other people. It forces them to pay for a government-run “exchange” which distorts the market and privileges government-connected health insurers.

Whether most conservatives see it from this perspective is not clear – they rarely make arguments based upon rights, rather than results. But Rick Santorum believes Romneycare is immoral, by whatever moral standard he is using.

So, let’s assume Romneycare does violate an underlying moral law that precedes government and violates the rights of the individuals in Massachusetts. As a libertarian, I certainly agree that it does. I also agree (and I don’t get to say this much) with both Rick Santorum and Abraham Lincoln that “the states don’t have the right to do wrong.” Violation of the rights to life, liberty, and property are wrong regardless of whether they are perpetrated by federal, state, or local governments.

But that’s not what Congressman Paul said. Paul did not assert the state government had any rights. He said the federal government does not have the power to override the states on this issue. This is a crucial distinction to make if one wishes to understand the Tenth Amendment and why violating it has been the chief cause of the national crisis we find ourselves in today.

The Declaration of Independence states that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. It doesn’t talk about government rights because they do not exist. Governments don’t have rights. Only people have rights. Governments are invested with specific, limited powers by the people who establish them. Those powers originate in the people and are delegated to the government for the purpose of securing their rights, as the Declaration also states. If a power is not specifically delegated to the government, the government cannot exercise it. To do so is to exercise power without the consent of the governed.

For the men who declared independence from Great Britain, the consent of the governed was the only way to reconcile government power with liberty. The government was only allowed to exercise power the people agreed to delegate to it. The powers enumerated in the Constitution are those which have this consent, given through the representatives who drafted and ratified it.

Many libertarians today reject the idea that a majority vote can substitute for the consent of the individual. Therefore, they reject all government as the exercise of arbitrary power. Even those who do not hold this view must recognize that calling ratification of the Constitution by majority votes in the state legislatures “consent of the governed” still requires an extremely elastic definition of the word consent. But at least there is some argument to be made that the powers delegated in that document were agreed to by the people.

There is no argument to be made that powers not delegated in the Constitution have the consent of the governed. That is why there is an amendment process; so new powers can be delegated to the federal government if a majority of the states truly wish to do so.

The powers delegated to the federal government deal primarily with issues outside the states. Power is delegated to create armies and navies to defend the republic against invasion. Power is delegated to regulate interstate commerce, which was intended merely to prevent protectionism between the states. There is no power delegated there allowing the federal government to regulate anything within the states. As Thomas Jefferson said, “I believe the States can best govern our home concerns, and the General Government our foreign ones.”[1]

What does all of this have to do with Romneycare? It means Ron Paul was right. The government doesn’t have the power to “prevent the states from doing bad things.” Why not? Because the people of those states never consented to give the federal government that power. The federal government exercising powers not delegated to it, even to repeal a bad law, is not substantively different from Russia or China interfering in the legislative process of a state. Exercising power without the consent of the governed is tyranny, regardless of who perpetrates it.

There is always desire to allow the federal government to exercise this power on those rare occasions when it is actually overriding a bad state law, instead of writing bad laws of its own. As Kevin Gutzman documents in his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, the states originally had a lot of internal laws that people today might not necessarily agree with. Some of the states had state religions. The Massachusetts Constitution originally required people to attend religious instruction. While libertarians would vehemently disagree with those laws, allowing the federal government to interfere is not the answer. Once that Pandora’s Box is opened, you are on the road to a $3.8 trillion a year federal government with a $14 trillion debt and $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Exercising non-delegated powers was the train it rode in on.

As I’ve said before, the Constitution itself was an enormous expansion of government power at the time. But even its delegation to the federal government of vast new powers  had limits. Today, no limits are recognized. If the federal government can ever be fixed, those limits have to be restored. Individuals, local governments, and state governments all do bad things. But a federal government with unlimited power is not the answer. We’ve tried that for the past one hundred years. Not only is it time to start enforcing the Constitution’s limits on federal government power; it’s time to start imposing new ones.


[1] Jefferson, Thomas Letter to Justice William Johnson June 12, 1823 from Jefferson Writings Literary Classics of the United States  edited by Merrill D. Peterson pg. 1476

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.