Sunday, January 25, 2015

Young People, Ron Paul, and Libertarianism

Nearly three years ago I read an article entitled, "Six reasons Paul appeals to some young voters" on  My then-seventeen year-old self toyed with the idea of writing a response to the article, but the blog post never came together and the few notes I jotted down soon got lost in the virtual pile of drafts which would never be published. 

For some reason, however, the article has remained in the back of my mind for these years, the inaccuracy of it keeping it from utterly fading away.  The recent elections of 2014 brought with it an opportunity for me to briefly hear Rand Paul speak, and with talk of the 2016 elections beginning the article has resurfaced in my mind all over again.  Despite the length of time that has passed since the original article was written, I'd like to present my reply now. 

Stephen Richer, the author of this article offers the following reasons for why young people vote for Ron Paul: Paul is a rebel, He's unusual, He’s not going to win, He doesn’t care if he wins, He addresses youth issues, and He’s online.  I'm going to respond to each with my own thoughts and comments.

1. "Paul is a Rebel"

 ...Ron Paul is the tattoo or nose piercing for the nerdy political junkies that never seriously rebelled.
Ron Paul = rebel?

He doesn't try to be politically correct, he tries to be logical.  

He didn't pander to the audience and tell them what they wanted to hear, he stuck by his principles.  

He used common sense instead of assuming the status quo was correct.  

He knew and understood and heeded the Constitution when no one else did.  

Do these things make him a rebel? If so - if principle and truth and common sense are rebellious - then go ahead and count me as a rebel as well.  But don't compare that "rebellion" to a tattoo or nose piercing.  Instead, compare it to the Boston Tea Party, or the Declaration of Independence or some other event portraying American moxie.

2. "He's Unusual"

The 20-year-old who knows about Ron Paul and libertarianism is a bit like the 20-year-old who knows about a special wine vintage or a remote micro brew – so erudite!
Um, wait a second, I'm confused.  Ron Paul has just gone from being compared to a rebellion-inspired tattoo to being compared with fine vintage wine?  How did that happen?

I'm going to almost ignore this point, because it seems to me that it's just a re-twisting of the first point.  Yes, much to my dismay, following the Constitution is unusual for those in D.C.  But I don't promote following the Constitution simply because very few people are doing it; I promote following the Constitution because it is the highest law of our county.

 3. "He's not going to win"

President Paul — the idea — will never be tarnished because he will never be President.  Additionally, when things invariably go wrong with the next administration, young Paul supporters — over their college cafeteria tables — can say, “You can’t blame me.  I supported Ron Paul!”
Says who?

Okay, so given the fact that it's 2014 I know that he didn't win the 2012 election, but back in January 2012 there was no reason to say he wasn't going to win.   In fact, he was dominating many straw polls for a long time, and I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that he was cheated out of the Republican nomination.  Nobody that I know of wanted to vote for Romney, they only supported him because they didn't want more of Obama.  A huge amount of people desperately wanted to vote for Ron Paul, and even those who didn't love him would have voted for him had he received the nomination.  If the Republican National Convention had gone differently, I think it is quite probable that we'd have Ron Paul rather than Obama in the White House today.  Romney was the candidate who was "unelectable", as the 2012 general election showed - not Paul.

4. "He doesn't care if he wins"

This sort of nonchalance about the most powerful office in the world, coupled with his seeming preference for ideological purity rather than political power, is attractive to young voters who loathe “selling out.”
Unless and until I hear proof from Ron Paul himself that he didn't want to win, I believe this statement is unfounded and quite silly.

The misconception, I believe, comes from the fact that Ron Paul didn't flip-flop on his positions for the audience.  He had (has) a spine.  Yes, this sometimes meant that he lost votes - but it also proves that he valued truth and principle above his own career.  This is not something that indicates a lackadaisical attitude, but rather the fact that Ron Paul is a man of honor.

Do we now only support candidates who act like stereotypical politicians, believing that because they lie and pander and compromise they are the only ones who really want the office?  I certainly hope not.

5. "He addresses youth issues"

Paul’s focus is on: getting government out of the economy, reducing government spending, getting out of foreign wars, and sealing the borders.
This is something I can agree with.   Ron Paul's ideology was not only relevant to his generation, but to every generation including the youngest.  Young people are among those affected by minimum wage laws, high taxes, military service, and other such issues.  That they would vote for Ron Paul, who was offering the most straightforward and effective strategies for dealing with these issues, is quite logical and obvious.

6. "He's online"

 The media seemingly bestowed the Republican-online award in 2008 to Ron Paul.  He might be winning it again this year.
Once again, I agree.  Young people, including myself, are quite likely to get their news and opinions from the internet rather than from a television set or newspaper.  Ron Paul led the way in using the internet for campaigning, and doing so allowed him to reach a huge amount of voters who may have otherwise never heard of him, given the fact that mainstream media seemed to ignore him all too often.

My Reasons

I certainly cannot speak for all young libertarians, but since I am a young libertarian, I can at least speak for myself and offer my observations regarding why my age group supported Ron Paul, and continues to support the libertarian ideology.

The main reason: we're disillusioned. We've witnessed both Republican and Democrat presidencies.  We've watched as each year, candidates for each party promise to be radically different.  And then we've watched as they get elected and seem nearly indistinguishable on so many levels.

Bush campaigned in 2000 under the banner of non-interventionism, of ending foreign wars and not getting involved in the squabbles of other countries.  He said that we shouldn't be the world's police.  And then 9/11 happened and we went straight to war with "terrorism", a war which has been waged ever since.  Then Obama came along and talked about getting the troops home... and started more wars in more countries. In 2012, Ron Paul was the only candidate offering concrete solutions regarding bring our troops home, and he was also the only non-interventionist.  (Guess who got the most funding from our troops?)

The patriotic ferver that caused many Americans to support going to war after 9/11 has long ago worn off.  I was only seven then, but I can easily recall the indignation felt by so many at the deaths of their fellow Americans.  But then instead of targeting those few terrorists who (according to the official story) caused the attack, we waged a war "against terror".  As long as sinful humans reside on our planet, how will we ever declare this war to be over?  It is a never-ending war.  And we're tired of it.

Republicans are supposed to be fiscal conservatives, but Bush still managed to get our country deeper and deeper in debt.  Oh, sure, he may not have done so as fast as Obama, but he certainly didn't come close to even trying to reduce the debt.  Ron Paul didn't just say that the budget needed to be reduced, he offered a plan and talked about the fact that unconstitutional agencies and departments needed to be cut from the budget entirely.  Radical as that may sound to some, his was the only solution that offered any real change.

Over and over again, we've watched as Republicans and Democrats argue endlessly over what they should do about X rather than asked themselves if they Constitutionally allowed to do anything about X.  Many of them have not so much as read the Constitution, much less tried to understand and follow it.

Furthermore, we are tired of the government trying to dictate moral and social issues.  Bush may have been reelected in 2004 because of his stance against gay marriage, but the tide in America has since shifted.  Pot has been legalized in several states, signaling that voters are no longer supporting the government's war on drugs.  Despite all this, Republicans really didn't campaign around these issues in this past election.  Instead, they attacked Obamacare (another government intrusion of social issues and liberty) and won in a landslide.

OH, and guess who most Republicans wanted to be seen with while campaigning?  Rand Paul, who happens to be... Ron Paul's son.

If Rand Paul runs for president this election - and I have no reason to think he will not - I believe he will win by a landslide.  Even liberal-leaning HuffPost has an author who has stated emphatically that he would much prefer Paul over Clinton.

Obama's presidency has done nothing but fan the flames of libertarianism across America, for his obvious dismissal of the Constitution only makes sweeter the idea of electing a truly-Constitutional president.