America’s Choice: Ron Paul or Unlimited Government

No matter how acrimonious the Republican primaries get, all of the candidates agree on one thing: Barack Obama must be defeated in November 2012. For 3 of the 4 remaining candidates, that is virtually the only important issue in the Republican primary race. Obama must be defeated and the only issue to resolve in the primaries is who has the best chance of doing so. Only Ron Paul asks the questions that should follow logically: Why is it so important to defeat Obama and what will you do differently from him?

In response, most of the Republicans offer only platitudes. “Obama believes in taking from one person and giving to another. He wants to turn the United States into a European social democracy with a massive welfare state, etc.” I happen to agree on these points with one caveat – the United States already is a European-style social democracy. That boat sailed many decades ago. With a welfare state measured in trillions that dwarfs the entire economies of most nations of the world, the United States is a poster child for social democracy and is now listed 10th on the Index of Economic Freedom.

However, assuming that Barack Obama is supportive of this and the Republican candidates are not, there must be fundamental philosophical differences between them and Obama that would translate into tangible policy differences. However, if one listens closely to what they actually say, none of the Republican candidates actually disagrees with Obama in principle on any single issue or identifies a specific power of the presidency that they would exercise differently – except for Ron Paul.

If Obama really is uniquely terrible as a president, there must be actual things he has done that make him worse than previous presidents. During the 2010 elections, the Tea Party movement focused on Obamacare. The Tea Party-fueled 912 Project was able to draw hundreds of thousands of people to Washington to protest this one program. Yet, with Medicare and Medicaid alone accounting for 1/3 of all healthcare spending in the United States and total government spending likely accounting for over half, why was Obamacare such a fundamental change?  Measured in terms of dollars, Obamacare was rather insignificant as an increase in government involvement in healthcare. If government-provided healthcare is really bad in principle, then opponents of it should object to all of the programs, especially Medicare, which costs about 6 times as much as Obamacare. But they don’t – except for Ron Paul, who has a clearly defined and funded plan to let workers entering the workforce opt out of Medicare.

Of course, there is one aspect of Obamacare that is different in principle and that is the individual mandate. Tea Partiers have made many eloquent speeches about how antithetical to freedom this central plank of Obamacare is. Again, I agree, but do the Republican candidates for president? Romney certainly doesn’t. Romney’s Massachussetts plan that inspired Obamacare is also centered around an individual mandate. Romney openly defends the principle to this day. His problem with Obamacare? That it is administered by the federal government and forced upon all 50 states. While his support for federalism might be admirable, Romney does not recognize any individual right not to be forced to purchase government-approved health insurance. If the state government imposes that obligation, Romney has no objection.

Gingrich doesn’t even object to an individual mandate at the federal level. While Santorum does seem to oppose this aspect of Obamacare, he has already voted for the prescription drug program, which expanded Medicare by as much in dollars as Obamacare costs in total. There is only one candidate that makes any argument or has any tangible plan to get the government out of the healthcare business completely – Ron Paul.

The same can be said for government spending in general. Yes, all of the Republican candidates rail against excessive spending, deficits, and debt. They decry Obama’s unholy deficits and say that they will cut spending and push for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That’s all fine, but what exactly are they going to cut? This is where those striking differences from Obama start to dissipate. None of the candidates will actually name programs that they will cut beyond infinitesimally small ones like the National Endowment for the Arts – except for Ron Paul. Paul has already published the first budget that he will submit to Congress and it cuts $1 trillion during his first year as president.

This budget not only saves money but indicates the philosophical difference between Ron Paul and the rest of the candidates. By actually assigning funding of zero to the Departments of Education, Commerce, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, and the Interior, Paul makes two philosophical statements that the other candidates do not. The first is that the government should have no role whatsoever in the areas that these departments regulate. They represent areas of life that should be left to voluntary cooperation between free people, not coercive mandates from the government.

The second is that Paul recognizes that these are functions that the government has no legitimate authority to tax individuals to fund. For the rest of the candidates, there is nothing that the government cannot tax people for, as long as it fits in with their plan. They may suggest cutting unsubstantial amounts here or there, but none of them cuts these functions to zero. They all believe that individuals can be taxed to fund government regulation and/or subsidization of all areas of human activity – except for Ron Paul.

All of this is rooted in a fundamental difference between Ron Paul and any other candidate for president in 2012, Republican or Democrat. It concerns the role of government. Only Ron Paul actually uses the words “role of government” in speeches or debates. Why? Because only Ron Paul believes that the role of government in society is limited. You will hear the other Republicans use the terms “small government” or “smaller government,” but rarely, if ever, will you hear them say “limited government.” On this principle, there is no difference at all between Obama, Gingrich, Romney, or Santorum. Santorum has actually said this explicitly (about the 1:20 mark), while the others demonstrate it through their positions on the various issues. Only Ron Paul argues that there are limits on the power of the government. The rest merely argue about how that power should be exercised.

This concept of limited government is so absent from modern American political discourse that it is necessary to define it. If Americans still truly believe that certain rights are inalienable, then there are certain things that the government is simply not allowed to do, not even with the support of a majority vote. In other words, those inalienable rights cannot be voted away, because they do not belong to the majority. They belong to each individual. That is limited government. Only Ron Paul defends it.

Nothing illustrates this better than Ron Paul’s position on what is supposed to be the fundamental principle around which American society is organized, liberty. Ron Paul defends liberty unconditionally while his Republican opponents openly attack it, just as Obama does. Many of them use the term “individual liberty,” but once it comes to specifics they are in lockstep with Obama.

Liberty has a definition and it is not “the ability to do whatever you want.” There is a natural limit to liberty that precedes the government. It is not created by the government. The natural limit of liberty is the equal rights of others. In other words, an individual has the right to do whatever he pleases as long as he does not invade the person, liberty, or justly acquired possessions of others.

This means that the individual might do things that others don’t approve of, like use drugs, watch pornography, or practice a religion that is antithetical to their own. Others are free to disapprove of these activities, but they are not justified in using violence against the people who engage in them – and all laws are backed by the threat of violence. In fact, since these activities do not invade the person, liberty, or property of another person, individuals have an inalienable right to engage in them. Governments at all levels should be powerless to prohibit them. That is, if the society really is organized around liberty. “No man has a natural right to commit aggression against the equal rights of others ,and that is all from which the law ought to restrain him.” That was how the author of the Declaration of Independence defined liberty. You either agree with him or you don’t. There is no middle ground.

At the federal level, the defense of liberty is defined by the first 10 amendments of the U.S. Constitution, popularly called the Bill of Rights. If there is anything of substance that makes America freer – in the real world – than the average banana republic, it is these limits on government power. Yet even on these most basic principles, only Ron Paul takes a stand for liberty. The other Republican candidates agree with Obama that these protections can be sacrificed in the name of security.

Romney stated that he would have signed the NDAA bill which granted the government the power to detain U.S. citizens without due process. In explaining his position, Romney made the ludicrous, counterintuitive argument that Americans have a right to due process unless they commit acts of terrorism. Excuse me, Mitt, due process is the means by which we determine if the suspect committed the crime or not. That is the whole reason for due process – to determine guilt or innocence. Romney doesn’t undestand that or doesn’t care. This should horrify any lucid American.

Newt Gingrich made this same argument in a previous debate in defending the Patriot Act. In fact, he thinks that the powers granted to the federal government in that law should be expanded. Rick Santorum doesn’t substantively disagree. Make no mistake, these are not fine points of law that are being argued here. They are the fundamental constitutional principles that define America as a free country. They are under all-out assault by both the Obama Administration and every Republican presidential candidate except for Ron Paul. That the other candidates get loud cheers in debates when arguing to abolish these constitutional protections of liberty should send a shiver up the spine of every American. Recall the words of the Star Wars character, “So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.” Without exaggerating, it has come to that.

Americans do have a choice in this election, but it is not between Obama and one of the other Republicans. There is no substantive difference there. The true choice is between Ron Paul and unlimited government, which is government under Obama, Romney, Gingrich, or Santorum. That means a government that can tax you for anything it wishes to, can detain and search you without warrant or probable cause, and can send soldiers to arrest you and imprison you indefinitely without legal representation, a hearing, or a trial. It is a government whose power knows no limits, that can forcefully control every area of your life and force you to pay for its domination of the entire globe. Whatever happens in the years ahead, Americans cannot say that they did not have an opportunity to choose liberty over tyranny. This may be their last chance.

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


13 thoughts on “America’s Choice: Ron Paul or Unlimited Government

  1. Darcy Bristol

    Thank you for writing this fine piece. I am deeply concerned about the blatant disregard for our freedom from the leaders of this country. I cannot understand how any one with any kind of brain cannot make the connections that Ron Paul makes. These to me are scary times. Scary because we are othe verge of a catastrophic collapse and no one ( besides Ron Paul) seems to want to address this. I don’t consider, abortion, marriage, and healthcare arguments that need to made right now. We need to stop the cycle of debt spending. I fear the worst if this issue is not addressed immediately. One thing you did not address in this article was Ron Paul’s ideas of sound money. It seems that no one wants to address this either. Plain and simply this man just makes sense! The media has people so warped about our role in the world. I often wish I could time travel. A silly notion I know but I wish to go back to our fore fathers and show them what this great country has become despite their greatest efforts to prevent this. I would like to see the look on Jefferson’s when I tell him the American people (our government) “bailed out” banks and private industry. We are in deep trouble. The movement is growing though, despite the efforts of this corporatacracy

  2. William Schooler

    Thank you Tom for digging through all these pieces, I hope others see this beside us who have also dug through the muck for years. I don’t believe there is a better choice than an informed one and if you dig around and you really realize what Liberty means in this country and how that directly relates to your life, it makes good sense and good sense makes for good choice and good choice creates it own set of results.

    I recognize each one of these items but I realize most people do not identify with most of them. People are starting to worry and they very much should. This run on the dollar will end and the choices from that point on will be very tough. If we have leaders in office now making poor choices and those running have proven track records of poor choice making there is no way in the time of turmoil I want them anywhere near the control switch.

    But I know making a choice for Ron Paul would be the right one because he would actually consult with The American people because he holds us as valuable as the next and the rest of the establishment does not even recognize we are here and that is not only sad it is disgraceful to say the least.

    Thanks for a great article I will be sure to pass this one to others.


  3. Chuck Donovan

    Outstanding article. Well written. You hit the bull’s-eye.

    Absolutely depressing results this weekend in South Carolina. Unfortunately it shows how few people understand what you wrote here.

    I fear the coming collapse and fear even more the response these central planners will impose on what is left of America.

    The attention of liberty minded people should no longer be on the Republican and Democratic so-called leaders. Last year former Comptroller General David Walker said it well. We are onboard the USS Titanic and the leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties is, “downstairs in the casino arguing over who will pick up the bar tab.”

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  5. Sherry

    I understand your frustration with the duplicity of rhetoric. But, as long as the foundational principles that you espouse are in direct contradiction to the majority of the signers of the Constitution this wall of separation will exist between the Libertarian party and the delusions leading the Republicans to continue to follow the leaders of the Republican Party. Your assertion that Jefferson was the “author” of the Constitution is just wrong. There are far too many proofs to the contrary. Your refusal to acknowledge those proofs do not change the fact of their existence.

    Sam Adams: “He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its
    virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen
    into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man. We must not conclude
    merely upon a man’s haranguing upon liberty, and using the charming sound, that he is fit
    to be trusted with the liberties of his country . . . The sum of all is, if we would most truly
    enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people.”

    Liberty is for a virtuous and moral people. The freedom to practice our religion is the foundational freedom of liberty. When the Supreme Court denied us the constitutionally protected right to freely practice our religion by denying us the right to freely practice public prayer in our schools, in our courts, in our governing bodies, the Supreme Court drove the nail into the coffin that buried the Constitution. If you want to resurrect the Constitution you first have to restore the first amendment. Whine, cry, yell, scream and holler all you want.

    When the Supreme Court drove God’s people out of the public education system, they created the climate that produced the mess you are dealing with today.

    1. Tom Mullen Post author

      Sherry, this is unresponsive to the article. First, I never said that Jefferson authored the Constitution. I said that he authored the Declaration of Independence. That is where the unalienable rights are enumerated. The Constitution does not declare unalienable rights. The “Bill of Rights” extends certain protections to some rights. It doesn’t grant or enumerate rights. Jefferson never really liked the Constitution – too much Hamilton in it. However, he did say that since it was adopted, that at least its less restrictive limits (than the Articles) on the power of the federal government should be respected.

      No one has a right to freely practice religion in public schools. You are free to practice your own religion on your own property. Public schools are public property, meaning everyone owns them (the first reason they are such a terrible failure). That means that everyone has a right to make rules on that property. The way that is done is through elected representatives. They can make any rules they want. If you don’t like the rules that they make, your only recourse is to elect different representatives.

      In addition, everyone is forced to pay for public schools, even those like me, who don’t use them. Since I’m paying, I have an equal say in waht religious ideas are promoted there. I may want Catholic instead of Protestant religion promoted. I may want Jewish or Muslim religion promoted. Since there is no way to promote the religious ideas of everyone who is forced to pay, it is actually better that no religion is promoted there. That can be done by the parents of each child. In a truly free society, no one would be forced to pay for public schools at all. The government is supposed to protect property, not facilitate theft from some people to pay for the education of others.

      Your Sam Adams quote doesn’t refute anything in the article or even suggest any contradiction. Liberty is for a virtuous and moral people. Yes. That doesn’t mean that they have to be Christian or even believe in God. Virtuous and moral means you don’t aggress against others – you don’t kill them and you don’t steal from them – not even using the govenrment as your heavy. In fact, it also means that you don’t force your religious ideas on them – that is a right that each individual retains themselves. The founders called it “the right of conscience.” They believed that the nature of God and the universe was so important – with literally your eternal existence in the balance – that no one, no majority, no government could impose their religious ideas on another person. Of course, the Federalist conservatives in some states instituted state religions and Massachussets even required people to attend religious instruction. That is perfectly consistent with what I said in the article – there were conservatives at the birth of the republic and their ideas were hostile to the ideas of the Declaration. At the same time that John Adams was writing the Massachussetts constitution requiring religious education, Jefferson was authoring the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom -abolishing the promotion of religion by the state and the funding of it by the taxpayers. That was just another of the sharp divisions between conservatives and libertarians at the founding. Along with promoting religion in order to control the minds of the populace, the conservatives also promoted redistributionist taxation, militarism, and every other evil of the total state.

      1. Sherry

        Hallelujah! I like it when you say so much with so few words! Yes, I can see your frustration about the Constitution/Declaration of Independence problem, my basic point was that everybody who signed the document had input into what the document included and while Jefferson may have written it, the intent of what he wrote was defined by all who signed it. It was the ideas of Christians that produced the Declaration of Indepence not the other way around. Christians are the authors of personal liberty! Liberty is only able to be maintained in a righteous society. Before Christianity there was no liberty for anyone anywhere. Bondage comes only from the removal of Christianity from the society. I am not arguing for a state religion, I am arguing for religion in the state. Your non-religion theory has been being tested for the last 100 years. It will be finalized in the next few years. Your non-religion theory has produced the biggest government in the history of the world. Big Corruption demands Big Government and Big Government demands Big Corruption. So, the outcome will be apparent with the passage of time.

        I also appreciate the public school property insight. That would account for the fact that “public” schools taught Christian principles because they were originally housed in churches. But, the founders were consistent in saying religion was necessary for the proper operation of the Constitution and that education was necessary for the proper operation of religion. So, there is no reason to suppose infringing on the right to practice our public prayer rights in the public schools is a Constitutional position. We have the right to public prayer. It was stolen from us by the courts. I want it back.

        Tom, thank you for your response. I do enjoy stopping by.

        1. Tom Mullen Post author

          Most of the founders admired the secular moral teaching of Christianity, but did not believe that Jesus was a divine being, much less the son of God.

          Thomas Jefferson did not believe that Jesus was a divine being.

          John Adams, who wrote the famous (and completely misunderstood by American Christians) passage about the Constitution being written for a moral and religious people, also did not believe that Jesus was a divine being. In fact, he called the belief that Jesus was the son of God “that awful blasphemy.”

          George Washington did not believe that Jesus was a divine being.

          Benjamin Franklin did not even believe in God for most of his life. Near the end, he became somewhat of a deist like most of the other founders.

          The very first Congress passed a resolution that stated that the United States was “in no way based upon the Chrisitan religion.”

          When some Virginia legislators tried to insert the name of “Jesus Christ” into the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, it was overhwhelmingly voted down, which Jefferson rejoiced at, saying that it proved that the Constitution was meant for “the Christian, the Jew, the Mohammedan, etc.”

          Finally, it doesn’t matter where a public school is housed or whether they talk about Jesus in it or not. I still have a right not to be taxed to fund it.

          1. William Schooler

            Thank you Tom, some are intent on authorizing themselves as some primal authority in the divine right and it is false and has always been false. They stated freedom of religion for a very specific reason and this was to be free of one claiming superiority over all others as in Liberty to be able to choose which.
            Its not that Sherry is out of her mind, she read all the books and made up her mind but she never got out and inspected all these ideas, Christianity is one way of life amongst many. Many philosophies have come in history and the results of their actions is all they have to support them and such a life.
            To say one is superior is simply making a statement, to show by activity one is greater in support of life is a far bolder statement. Allowing life to create ideas and test ideas is a part of life and writing text that says you can only test what we want you to test if false and not actions in support of life because we are simply not clones, we are life which by nature is filled with different ideas in each life.

            None of these people will look in the mirror and ask themselves what they do naturally as the spirit of life they are. Fact we create ideas and decide to experience them or decide not to and I am in charge of mine and you of yours and Sherry’s by someone else which is the only difference.

        2. Vae Victus

          “Christians are the authors of personal liberty! Liberty is only able to be maintained in a righteous society. Before Christianity there was no liberty for anyone anywhere. Bondage comes only from the removal of Christianity from the society.”

          This simply cannot be true. It would mean that prior to about 40 A.D., there was no liberty amongst human society. Or more correctly, that no one advocated for liberty or understood what liberty meant.

          It would also mean that in our own time, people who are not Christian can never understand and take hold of their liberties. We know different on both counts.

          The way one arrives at liberty is through reason. The enemy of liberty is ignorance. There are ways to seek the truth and to utilize one’s reason that do not involve adherence to Christianity.

          Even Christ made it plain that the law of the universe was simple, if people would but see it, and that the search for truth would set you free. His teachings actually expressed pluralism and were opposed to much of the establish liturgy.

          The principles of non aggression, love and respect for your fellow beings, living in accord with nature, etc. can be found throughout the history of philosophy: Buddhism, Stoicism, Taoism etc.

          Many of the “Christian principles” derive from or are similar to far earlier teachings as found in Hermeticism or Zoroastrian. Even the recognition of a single, supreme God, as opposed to dozens or hundreds of animistic deities or whatever, can be found in the pre Christian era, most arguably with Atenism.

          As Mullen pointed out, the Founders definitely respected the philosophical teachings of Christianity, but while many of them were raised Christian (almost a sure thing in early 18th century Britain or the Colonies), they would be branded heretics or lost souls by most evangelists today.

    2. William Schooler

      “Liberty is for a virtuous and moral people.”
      Can someone please show me where this is written that makes it absolute? Who makes this stuff up anyway? In fact show me any of these symbols and words are not made up by ideas. All words are ideas and all ideas are created by LIFE!

      Sure I can make up some dumb idea I am the authority but guess what I made it up. Further more Life is what is stated in the Declaration of Independence and not some perfect life picked out by someone who has no clue and THINKS they are above doing anything wrong, in fact if you did nothing wrong you have learned nothing. I am proud of my screw ups, they taught me very well and I fully respect ALL life not just some hand picked prim and proper life by some who never lived it.

      Liberty is an action to keep ourselves free from poor ideas of DOMINANCE which is not moral and you can’t say it is and then claim its not, sorry does not work this way.
      And for the record all life creates ideas too, as well as you, what makes the good separate from the bad ones? Because they follow only your rules? Hardly.

      I only know 3 foundational principals in this country and they are very clear, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are all we need to include into great choice.
      Remember these are Independent of bad OLD ideas force fed down the throats of life and there is no such thing as my way or the highway, there is the way that supports and sustain life’s way by actions that support such an activity.

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