Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How Can Libertarian Ron Paul Be Against Abortion?

The success or failure of Ron Paul's campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire hinges on his ability to reconcile the libertarian and social conservatives factions of the Republican party.
In discussing his views Ron Paul often gets the question how he reconciles his prolife views with his libertarian philosophy. An echo of this is seen on yahoo questions:
"How can Ron Paul be a libertarian and be against abortion at the same time?"
Ron Paul, during his speeches in Iowa and in contacts with the media, emphasizes that the basis for his non-interventionist foreign policy positions are in line with Republican political history and philosophical in opposition to progressive liberalism. Something both liberal progressives and social conservatives often forget.

Even those who write very positive and actually quite correct stuff about Ron Paul, like Dr Tim Stanley (who is a research fellow in American History at Royal Holloway College and working on a biography of Pat Buchanan) seem puzzled about this :
"Ron Paul believes that rights come from God, not the man-made warfare-welfare state. Liberty is rooted in the right to life, and that right is divinely inspired. Ergo, in order to protect an individual’s liberty we must first safeguard his right to life and outlaw abortion. By such contortions of logic is a paleo-libertarian born."
But let's not blame liberal media or scholars outside the Republican party when even social conservative lobbyists like Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and social conservative politicians like Gary Bauer misunderstand Ron Paul's views. Just listen to Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council after the Ames Straw Poll claiming:
"even Ron Paul at the last speech that he gave the straw poll he spent most of his time talking about the values issues and the value of human life and how you have to stand for life"
Within the Republican party we recognize three approaches to the libertarian - social conservative dilemma.

You have the typical "value voters" approach which amounts to pandering on each and every issue to the perceived social conservative crowd and ignoring the libertarian wing of the Republican party allthogether. Gary Bauer is the most obvious example of this approach. But we can see this tendency, allbeit to a lesser extent, reflected in the candidacies of Bachmann, Huckabee and Robertson. As David Franke points out today, this strategy is a recipee for irrelevance inside the Republican party:
"Michele Bachmann is the winner of the Ames Straw Poll, and will always be listed that way in the history books. But in terms of the dynamism and impact of the race, she has been hurt by the Iowa Straw Poll results. Behind closed doors, she and her campaign managers cannot be happy tonight."
The second approach is to acknowledge the existence of both libertarian and social conservative tendencies in the party, but to treat them as separate and irroncilable subgroups inside the party. The strategists behind the George W. Bush, Rick Perry and to some extent Michele Bachmann campaigns are examples of this strategy. Perry's prayer meeting and George W. Bush coming out as being reborn were the two most visible manifestations of this strategy.

The third approach is to believe that both libertarian and social conservative should be engaged on Republican principle. Today Ron Paul and Jim DeMint seem to be the most visible advocates of this approach.

Peter Grier in the Christian Science Monitor demonstrates again today that Ron Paul has a lot of work to do to explain that his foreign policy is not some far-left idea, but firmly rooted in traditional Republican ideas.
"But he’s also anti-interventionist to the point where he sounds like the left wing of the Democratic Party. He’s complained that President Obama is moving too slowly in getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance, and he says US national-security establishment warnings that Iran wants nuclear weapons are “war propaganda.”

“They just want No. 6 war. We have essentially five going on now and we’re broke, and the American people know we can’t afford any more wars,” Paul told Fox on Tuesday.

Many pundits think this stance alone means Paul can’t win the GOP nomination, since many Republican voters lean hawk.

Paul has “deep support,” but his “Dennis Kucinich-esque foreign policy agenda is anathema to most Republicans,” and he’s thus “not a credible candidate for the nomination,” wrote Kyle Kondik, an analysts at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, on the center’s “Crystal Ball” blog in the wake of the Iowa straw poll results."
The Amazing Atheist makes us aware of this Ron Paul quote:

"The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion."

Jack Hunter discusses the dynamics of the Ron Paul campaign with Jerry Doyle.

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