Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Let's talk about Ron Paul...

Last night, the former Republican presidential candidate, Ron Paul, made a speech addressing the issues of our country. Dr. Paul is a wonderful statesman, a great orator, and a Godsend to the floundering mess that is the Republican Party, but I would never vote for him. He has given hope to millions of apathetic citizens across the nation, and, for that, I respect him more than any of the other candidates. But, I fundamentally disagree with many of his policies. This is dangerous territory for an internet geek such as myself, but I feel like I have a valid and informed argument...

First, I want to talk about the positive aspects of Dr. Paul's campaign. It started as a grassroots effort, which I think is awesome, and he spoke to a demographic of people that is so largely overlooked by our politicians, tech nerds and internet people. For years, we have been the disgruntled voice of the 'other'. No candidate, celebrity, Playboy spread, or new device was beyond our criticism. Who could possibly win over such a disillusioned group?

Then, about a year ago, a tech savvy friend linked me to this video, and told me that this was the first time he had ever been excited about a politician. I congratulated him on his new found interest in politics, but dismissed the candidate as a radical idealist who would never make a difference...

A couple of months later, the internet buzz hit and Ron Paul was suddenly a champion of liberty and a symbol of hope for America. You couldn't refresh your browser without seeing a new Digg article about how awesome he was. But, much like I predicted, the Neoconservatives in control of the Republican Party dismissed Dr. Paul as an extremist and threw their support behind the terribly unprepared John McCain. The debate seemingly over, I turned my attention to the Democratic primary, mainly focused on supporting Barack Obama in his lengthy race against Hillary Clinton...

My interest in Paul was rekindled after the FISA debacle. I was a full-fledged Obama supporter, and while his voting for the FISA bill hurt, it was his lies about filibustering that made me second-guess my support for him. Unlike many of my internet peers, I didn't immediately denounce him, but my hopes for his candidacy were changed forever. I started reading up on Ron Paul, and was excited to learn that his movement hadn't been stifled by his inability to get elected. When I heard that he was organizing a rally to combat the Republican National Convention, I was ready to throw my full support behind him. Here was a man that had a sense of respect for his beliefs and the beliefs of his fellow Americans. He was unafraid when faced with opposition, and he refused to play the silly game that the mainstream media used for better ratings...

But then I realized something...

A strict constructionist view of the Constitution didn't work for our founding fathers, and it won't work now. Thomas Jefferson, the leader of the strict constructionist movement at the turn of the 19th century, realized that adhering to nothing but the document was severely limiting. He won the presidency in 1800. It was called the "Revolution of 1800", because, prior to that, George Washington and John Adams enacted Federalist policies that technically undermined the powers given to the executive branch by the Constitution. Jefferson's election was supposedly meant to reverse these policies for the greater good of the nation. When he took office, he realized the National Bank, a Federalist creation, was working really well and decided to keep it. Furthermore, in 1803, he made the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the nation. It said nothing in the Constitution about the government's power to purchase land, but Jefferson did it anyway, because he knew that it would be good for the country. I don't discredit Jefferson for reversing his policies, it was good judgement on his part to put the nation first and his personal beliefs second.

This anecdote shows a historical precedent for Ron Paul's movement to drop all policies that aren't laid out by our Constitution. He holds a praiseworthy position, and many of his beliefs, particularly about the War on Drugs and the War in Iraq are in league with my own. However, the complexities of our current republic, flawed though they may be, are much better suited to deal with the issues of the 21st century.

I'm voting for Barack Obama, not because he is a perfect candidate, but because he understands how our system works and will be a driving force in bettering our image abroad. He won't solve all of our problems, but he will make us feel better about them...

-Matt

3 comments:

Melissa said...

I just wanted to let you know how grateful I am that because of you, my eyes have been opened to the importance of politics in my everyday life. I'd been steadfastly apathetic, even in my support of Obama, refusing to delve too deeply into the issues for fear of confronting the corruption and hypocrisy that always surround them. But in the past few weeks you've shown me that getting involved matters and makes a difference. Thanks.

:o)

Suzanne said...

Matt Brinn for President in 2032 !!!!!

Suldog said...

Well-reasoned and thoughtful words.

As you know, I'm a Libertarian. I actually voted for Paul when he ran for the presidency, as a Libertarian, in 1988. He is as honest and truthful an elected representative as there is, and the country could certainly use as much of that as possible.

In any case, I just want to tell you that folks like yourself - younger by a generation than me, and actually able to put together coherent and cogent arguments for or against policy - renew my hope that all is not lost. Thanks!