Monday, December 05, 2011

Why You Can't Actually Vote For Ron Paul

As you know, I love Ron Paul. I've been supporting him vocally and I'm about to file to switch parties so that I can vote for him in the primary. However, I don't think I would vote for him in the general election, and I don't think you should either.

Backing up... There are two ways you can lean in politics. Right or left. Right is a vote for philosophy, left is a vote for strategy. If you vote right-wing, you believe that you should not be required to help others. And there's nothing wrong with this. It's a point of view, and one that I don't necessarily disagree with, because "should" is generally an indicator of emotionally-driven human scaffolding. However, it is a somewhat somber reflection on the big picture of all reality, one that I wonder how many right-wingers really digest.

If you vote left, you're admitting that you have a responsibility to something greater than yourself, and this vote is part of your strategy for realizing that responsibility.

Anyone who thinks that a right-wing vote is strategically sound for taking care of things greater than yourself has some real reckoning to do. I'm not saying a small-gov system can't create jobs, it can. But jobs are a by-product of its primary function: to create wealth. But for whom? Social Darwinism is exactly that, a rise to the top of the best, and a fall by the wayside of the rest. Left-wing policy-- while doomed to inefficiency and disadvantaged by the nature of incentives--is a function of fairness. "Life ain't fair, kid!" will always be true, but the left wants to transcend that axiom, or at least make it slightly less true.

Both sides of the aisle are completely legitimate points of view. Right wing perhaps more legitimate, since it's based on nature, but part of human faith means attempting to rise up above the beasts.

[For the record, given the current socio-economic situation, I'm convinced that the absolute worst thing for the country right now is fiscal centrism. Centrism is fine as a general philosophy, but during times of crises, it's a hideous strategy. The way out of the quick-sand is gonna lie at either one extreme point or another, but not right in the middle.]

But I digress.

I'm a big fan of Ron Paul's for a lot of reasons. He's the most critical-thinking-friendly conservative in politics today. I tend to have a big problem with people who legislate based on religion or traditional values. Don't get me wrong, religion and traditional values are not bad things, but when they inform public policy, it usually becomes an irreconcilable breakdown of consistency and logic. Ron Paul is the most legitimate and pure right-winger I've ever known, and his principles are beyond reproach.

Here's why you can't vote for Ron Paul. He's actually too principled. He wants to get rid of the Patriot Act. I know it's fun to hate on the Patriot Act as a symbol of Bush and Cheyney going power crazy, but the Patriot Act is important. Ron Paul believes in that Benjamin Franklin saying. "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither." [Doesn't that sound just a tiny bit Nazi? It basically means, "If you find survival more important that the general idea of freedom, you don't deserve to live." And by the way, it implies that "If you don't agree with me, you don't deserve to live!"]

This is a dangerous message, and I can appreciate why it was important during the late 1700's. They needed to rally up men and make them feel like pussies if they didn't fight the Brits. But here's the problem with this concept. Ron Paul is applying all the implications of this message to the utmost extreme, he's being a fundamentalist.

In 1776, colonial life was probably a pain in the ass. Winters were harsh, medicine wasn't very advanced, the Brits were forcing you to let soldiers live in your home. Life didn't have the variety that it has today, there was literally less to lose by putting freedom before physical safety. But today, we have iPhones, The Wire on DVD, NFL Football, the internet, Quizno's Toasted Subs, oral sex is considered legit, every style of beer is available, Strange Mercy by St. Vincent... There's a LOT of stuff elevating the daily process of living. And all they're asking us to do is let them make sure we don't have a bomb in our underwear when we board a plane. Or, let some faceless bureaucrat who we'll never meet catalog the websites we've visited. Small sacrifices so that some highly skilled people can help prevent a terrorist from afflicting us with premature non-existence.

The idea that privacy--which I love, by the way... I don't want you to get the wrong idea, there's almost nothing better than when nobody knows what you're up to--is more important, or more American, than not-dying, is an alarming concept. Especially when you consider the fact that pure freedom is a tricky thing! I never voted for a two-party system! It was thrust upon me like a slave-driver's pike! But I make exceptions because it lets me enjoy lots of stuff that intensifies life way more than an unmanageable fight for possibly mis-informed ideals. If you are truly against the Patriot Act--and I don't mean hating the fact that we need it, or hating what it represents... If you TRULY disagree with the Patriot Act, what you're saying is "I'd rather die than let a TSA agent feel my coin-purse." Which seems potentially hypocritical, because most 40 year old men would rather let some doctor poke them in the prostate than get cancer. Is a colonoscopy freedom? It's true you have a choice not to go, but when the symbolism is stripped away, it seems much clearer which is the lesser of two evils.

Don't get me wrong, you probably won't die on the plane even without preemptive gropeage. [Or, you might die even with it.] But really, the Patriot Act--on a basic philosophical level--is a fulcrum between death and discomfort. I understand the attractiveness of principles, but fundamentalism of any stripe is a big problem.

When you see how inflexible Paul is on this stuff, you begin to see that--while he'd be a guaranteed bullshit-free president, you'd better be willing to go the whole distance. You have to ask yourself which is more pleasing: A virtually un-corruptable world leader? Or some politician who will fluff on his promises when he realizes that the real-time consequences of his actions are more important than his approval rating.

Oh, and you also have to figure out whether your a left-winger or a right-winger. I'm still working that one out.

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