Republicans have time on their side, that’s about it

February 27, 2009

(Copyright 2009)

You gotta hand it to crusty old Ron Paul, Republican (but libertarian) congressman from Texas. Regardless of whether you agree with his libertarian philosophy, surely he hit the nail on the head explaining the current dilemma faced by conservative Republicans.

With the new Democratic president, Barack Obama,  being the most liberal of liberal, they could tout their counter ideology. But they’ve lost their credibility.

Paul says they (not him) lost it by supporting George W. Bush for eight years, a president who claimed to be conservative, but did not seem to be when spending was concerned. And isn’t that what conservatives pride themselves in being? tight with money, prudent, business like.

He is hopeful that conservatives are reassessing their mistakes and trying to get back to their roots. He also claims that young people flock to his conservative/libertarian message and that he has great hope in that regard for the future.

And here is where traditional American conservatives seem to part ways with Paul and his libertarianism. Paul is against foreign military entanglements, such as the one we are involved in the Middle East (Iraq and Afghanistan).

(And I have to stop right here and say that  through the years in my contacts with various proclaimed libertarians, including an obscure presidential candidate, I have seen most of them as a little “eccentric” shall we say? a little off? outright nut cases? To be fair I’ve only met a handful and I should not be so judgmental. But I love how they confound both liberals and conservatives. Libertarians agree with conservatives that taxes need to be cut and/or kept low, but they do not believe that the government should be able to restrict personal decisions such as abortion and taking drugs. They are more supportive of small and limited government than conservatives. They also confound liberals, because many of their positions on social issues are considered liberal, but they do not see government as an instrument of social change or even social welfare. In my understanding, libertarians see government as the great record keeper of who owns what in order to keep order in society.)

While Republicans in general today were finding favor with President Obama’s decision to basically continue the Bush program of prolonged withdrawal from Iraq (with a caveat that we can always spring back into action), Paul was not shouting hooray.

Paul said we had no business going to war in Iraq. He said we bombed their homes and killed their people and that is why they hate us (and I add – remember Iraq did not attack us).

As for Obama’s increase in troop strength in Afghanistan, he sees it as total folly as well.

“Osama bin Laden’s strategy has been to bankrupt us and he has achieved that,” Paul said.

My own opinion is that our irresponsible fiscal policy (which can be blamed on both major parties and all entities, government and business and individuals) and a natural boom and bust business cycle is what has caused our present economic crisis. Certainly, the extremely expensive military actions we have been conducting have contributed or exacerbated the problem.

We don’t and should not base our military decisions solely on affordability – supposedly when we make a decision to strike militarily it is directly or indirectly based on our own security (I always have hard time swallowing the idea that we fight for world freedom – that is a side benefit, we hope).

If we decide that it is in our defensive interests to strike (or strike back) militarily, while we do have to figure out how to finance our actions, the assumption must be that we have no choice and will find the money because our own survival depends upon it (a war tax?).

But today, a Democrat is president with a big mandate behind him.

Ron Paul as far as I know has been consistent through the years. The other Republicans have not and that is what is hurting them today.

The Republican Party is in search of an identity. It needs to divorce itself once and for all from one of the most disastrous presidencies in our history and move on.

To Republicans I say: don’t worry, Obama has such a daunting task ahead of him there is no way to know whether he can be successful, and the American people are not generally patient, and the voters have short memories anyway.