Ron Paul and Liberty

If Ron Paul had won the Ames Iowa poll, the mainstream media would have dismissed the entire exercise as unimportant. If he had come in at, oh, 6th place, they would have used this as evidence that he is incompetent, not in the first rank of Republican candidates, can’t get out the vote, the American people had rejected his candidacy, etc.

So, when Congressman Paul took a magnificent second place, only 1% behind the winner, I said to myself, Hot diggity dog; the MSM can’t ignore him now. They cannot dismiss this entire result since if they did so, they would have to also deprecate Michele Bachmann’s win, and that they will not do. They now MUST give Dr. Paul his due credit, since he finished in close second place to her. They will be forced to discuss his ideas: bring the troops home, get rid of the Fed, drastically reduce taxes, eliminate a slew of illicit Federal departments, legalize drugs and other victimless crimes, stop foreign “aid,” save the American dollar via 100% gold backing, etc.

Silly me. That shows how much I know.

Instead, the talking heads are now tooting this line: “The three front runners are Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann.” In their view, these are the major candidates, and all the others are also-rans.

Why Mitt Romney? Well, he looks presidential, and he has a good chance with the tea partiers despite his Romney-car health policy in Massachusetts, oh so similar to Obama-care. Why Rick Perry? Well, he’s the governor of Texas, the second biggest state, isn’t he? And this despite the fact that he has not yet won anything in the presidential sweepstakes. Why Michele Bachmann? This is because, of course, she just won the Ames Iowa poll. Notice any name missing from all of this? I’ll give you a hint: this is the guy who came in SECOND, 1% behind “major candidate” Bachmann in this recent election.

There used to be among the beltway “Austro-libertarians” a campaign to promote and study Austrian economics without “You Know Who” (Ludwig von Mises, of course). There is now a campaign amongst the major media to analyze the Republican presidential process without uttering the name of “You Know Who” (Ron Paul, of course).

What can be done about this? Well, keep sending in those cards and letters; keep protesting; keep writing those e mails to these self-appointed judges. Vote for Ron Paul. And, most of all, let us all pledge to donate as much as we can to all of the upcoming Ron Paul money bombs.

There are some otherwise excellent libertarians who hold their noses at the political process. They think it is somehow incompatible with the non aggression principle, the foundation of our philosophy. Voting just gives “them” sanction, these people think.

Well, if so, then libertarians should not use fiat currency to transact grocery purchases, travel on government roads, attend concerts at public theatres, patronize public libraries, parks, museums, teach in, or attend, any public university, or even private one that is subsidized. They should also not eat food, since the government is heavily involved in subsidizing some of it. They should not live in houses, since the statists have heavily involved themselves with building materials. They should eschew… the list goes on and on, and includes every jot and tittle of the economy, so heavily ensconced in it is the state apparatus.

The point is, the modern government is so heavily engaged in ALL facets of our lives. If we really didn’t want to give “sanction” to them, and wanted, also, to be logically consistent, we could not operate in modern society at all. We would have to either go off to live in a self sufficient farm, or commit suicide. Hey, we don’t want to lose our souls, do we?

Some libertarians say that we have a choice regarding whether or not to vote, to support Dr. Paul, whereas we have no choice with regard to any of these other things. Nonsense. No, nonsense on stilts! Human action always includes choice. We are engaging in human action all over the place. Self sufficient farming, and/or suicide ARE choices! This attitude of libertarians is very self destructive. It prevents us from supporting Ron Paul to the extent that would otherwise be the case.

I suggest a remedy for this sort of irrational thinking. It is Murray Rothbard’s “Do you hate the state?” (While you’re at it, read this other excellent piece by the same author, about my man Hector). If we really see our political leaders as the gangsters most of them are (there are but a few honorable exceptions to this general rule, certainly including in the modern day You Know Who, and his son, the junior Senator from Kentucky), we will reject this utter nonsense that to engage with them in any way is to be false to libertarianism.

If we don’t engage them, in many, many ways, certainly including voting, how will we ever rid ourselves of this pestilence? If we don’t support the greatest advocate of libertarianism now active in behalf of the cause of liberty (hint: You Know Who), we lose the best opportunity we now have to promote this philosophy.


Walter Block

Dr. Block is a professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans, and a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He is the author of Defending the Undefendable and Labor Economics From A Free Market Perspective. His latest book is The Privatization of Roads and Highways.

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