Even though I find the full Libertarian program impractical and not always representative of my own interests, there is a certain appeal to the ideas of Ron Paul, and sometimes I think that it is too bad he can’t break into the mainstream of presidential candidates, instead of being just a fixture at the debates (or so-called debates).
He is the only candidate that if he got his way would slash the budget and cut down on the deficit — I mean he wants to dismantle a large part of the administrative branch — that ought to save some money.
What I like best is that while he spouts off a lot of stuff that sounds conservative, unlike the mainstream conservatives that never saw a war they didn’t like (unless Obama has anything to do with it) because it makes Uncle Sam seem tough, Paul sees the current military engagements as needless and in fact unconstitutional.
And I should stop right here and note that the question of whether the president of the United States can unilaterally dispatch troops and get us involved in war has never really been resolved. Some argue that the Constitution only allows the president to ask for a declaration of war from congress and requires congress to pass such a declaration.
The case gets muddled in the reality is that there are military engagements that are short of war and the president as commander-in-chief of the armed forces needs the ability to act in a timely fashion.
It also gets muddled in the fact that if congress passes things like the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (that was used for Vietnam) and whatever the resolution was called for Bush’s War on Terror, then essentially it has passed a declaration of war.
(Just did some quick on-line research and I think the reality of things is that the president has wide latitude to dispatch troops, at least in an emergency, which he of course would define as such, and then congress, if nothing else, has the power of the purse over whether to fund military operations. But of course once something is done it is hard to stop — see my comment on my P.s. P.s. at the bottom.)
Most confusing of all is that since World War II we have come up with the question of: when is a war over? The old definition is when one side attains victory and the enemy is vanquished. We don’t seem to do that anymore. Wars become open ended.
But anyway, from what he says, Paul would bring our armed forces back home, not only from the current battlefields but from places such as South Korea and Germany where there is no war.
I’ve heard the argument that just because you bring troops home you do not necessarily save money because you still have to pay for them. Now if ever there was a specious argument, that is one. First it has to cost more to pay for troops and ordnance expended overseas and all that goes with it and it has to be more expensive to have troops billeted around the world. Second, if we are not fighting a war, we could reduce the size of the armed forces.
I am not for gutting the armed forces as the U.S. did between World War I and World War II or even after Vietnam. I would think we should maintain a fairly hefty troop strength made up of an experienced cadre of professional soldiers. We should be ready at all times. Nonetheless the force could be smaller.
We also have a lot of technology these days that does not involve actual ground troops, so that helps.
I am beginning to think, however, that there ought to be a compulsory military draft of all young people (not sure if women should be included), with them serving probably two years of active duty and then be on call for a number of years (this could do a lot for curbing youth unemployment).
I am fairly sure we would never fight another unnecessary and costly war if all people had to serve. The president and congress would face pressure.
I don’t mean to somehow conflate what I have written here with Paul’s platform. These are totally my thoughts and words.
I do think Paul could solve a lot of our problems, but I also think he can never get elected because hardly anyone wants to follow the austere and somewhat scary approach of libertarianism, where you have maximum freedom but you are all on your own. You have to remember although he calls for saving money, he and his ilk think that if you want police, you hire them. Want your house fire put out? you hire the fire department (done in some rural areas even today), you want medical care? better have your own bucks, lose your job? you better have quite a nest egg, and so on.
On the other hand, if you want to solve the deficit problem and quit expending money overseas (just adding to the national debt), Paul could do it — that is if he could get the American people behind him and thus get congress to go along. Won’t happen.
Although I would think Libertarians generally take a hands-off approach to government involvement business and personal finance, at last night’s GOP debate I heard Paul say that the government bailed out the perpetrators (Wall Street) in the 2008 financial crisis instead of helping the victims (the American people). Sometimes Paul takes a kind of populist approach, and that I think has given him a lot of mileage
Anytime one calls for pulling out of a military involvement the war lovers say you are not supporting the troops, mixing up the need to ship supplies to troops in the field with overall policy (apples and oranges) — it is of course a rhetorical trap in which you can never not support an ongoing war, whether that war makes any sense or not, or no matter how we got into it, such as under false pretences or a mistake.