Ron Paul’s Vision: Can It Work…

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( Dr. Ron Paul is a true patriot, and his support of a different vision of the constitution needs to be debated anew, in the light of the positive and negative changes that have come with that defining document’s continuing evolution.

States’ Rights versus a strong Federal National Government is as legitimate an issue for debate in 2012 as it was in 1787. As a history buff and political junkie, I pay attention to symbolism and substance. I am a resident of Virginia, but I have lived in New York, Connecticut, Michigan, Arizona, and New Jersey. I have traveled and lived abroad. The evolution of the U.S. into a global power sustains and restrains our freedom to engage in this exchange. As nations of men and women, of peoples, leaders everywhere have made defining decisions. These decisions were not made in a vacuum. They have had far reaching effects, but we are here in this present global moment as a result of them, all of them. Perhaps, we are here in spite of them. Call them mistakes, call them self-serving, call them an expression of exceptionalism or whatever. I see America and the world’s best days in this present moment. I know about the incarceration rate of African Americans and Latinos. I also read about legislative solutions. Those solutions are less likely to come about without strong national leadership, without a more expansive view of the constitution rather than the stricter view of the national government powers.

The press and the media have been criticized in the past for not exposing racism; I will not now criticize them for raising legitimate questions about  statements written under Dr. Paul’s name in the 1990s. It understandable that when you have an affinity to a candidate that you might not want the press to pursue a particularly troublesome line of questions. But it is indefensible to criticize the press for pursuing the questions in this case. After going after Herman Cain for allegations of sexual harassment and adultery, what would we think of a national press that did not attempt to expose potential racism in another candidate for the presidency in the same election cycle? 

Is it okay that because past presidents may have been racist and the national media may not have excoriated them, that Paul should get a pass on his alleged past? Should he not have to address the issue forthrightly?  I do not believe Paul is or ever has thought of himself as racist or bigoted.  It is anathema to his philosophy.  Yet, I would like to see him address the issue and the surrounding charges in the national press.  I thought he hurt himself, taking off the microphone and running away in the CNN interview on the issue.  Let him gather his thoughts and prepare for a press conference at some point in the future so that all of us may hear for ourselves his explanation.

As a libertarian, Paul has highlighted problems that we agree are racist, wrong, and unfair. These problems still persist. So addressing concerns verbally does not end them. The majority in this country has not yet been persuaded that many of its bad laws are bad or that prejudice and bigotry has not gone away. We have to engage in this process of discourse, elections, legislation, and judicial adjudication to bring about the ideals embodied in our constitution and founding documents.

Patience is needed. Because someone fearfully screams that time is running out does not mean it is or that the suggested changes are correct ones. My senator, Jim Webb (who is not seeking reelection) has an omnibus crime bill that addresses a slew of differential sentencing issues and other inequities that I believe Dr. Paul would support. Despite the bill’s bipartisan co-sponsorship in the senate, the GOP leadership blocked its consideration, demanding 60 votes and various other legislative hurdles even though its fiscal savings are enormous and needed. Senator Webb hopes to attach this bill as an amendment to some “must pass” legislation when the time comes. It had over 56 supporters, endorsements by many states’ attorney generals and other national law enforcement associations. 

As Dr. Paul knows, under our constitution, the president can only do so much! Most of the power resides in the legislative branch and has had to be wrested from it as a result of its inherent and historical dysfunctionality.  There are political and constitutional constraints on what even the legislature can accomplish. That is the way our system is until they (or we) change it. In presidential elections the people have an opportunity to “nudge” the process forward. As the electorate, we sometimes, it seems, get it right; other times not.

I invest my energy in being an optimist. I can live with having the federal government emasculated. I do not know want to see it as impotent as Paul has suggested, but he should be debating Obama and Romney in September 2012 on their respective visions with the national electorate tuned in.  I recognize, though, that the result will not be a cure all, but it might advance the national understanding of our governmental system. 

At this moment in our national history, we need to listen to each other, learn from each other, feel and share each other’s legitimate concerns. Out of many, we need to become one. Practically, the national government needs to be restrained severely in its spending.  There needs to be shared sacrifice.  Entitlements should be on the table.  Over time the national debt needs to be reduced. The national defense budget needs to be trimmed from the level that the GOP’s finds acceptable, but it should be left sounder than isolationists might want. 

The post election solution should reflect shared sacrifice and require those who benefitted the most from and during the unpaid for wars to pay more in taxes.

The national government must adopt policies that would preserve and grow the middle class and assure their security at the expense of the oil industries, big banks and other financial institutions, multi-millionaire and billionaire chief executives, and high flying Wall Street Traders whose interests and profits have been saved and sustained by the national government, in part, at the cost of the blood, bravery, and broken bodies of our troops.

Many like what Ron Paul says about the founding fathers’ original intent in the constitution, but what about what the people want and need now and are willing to pay for constitutionally?  What would actually change under his administration?  Some think that Paul is a threat to the status quo. He is, in an odd way, but what is the status quo now? It is gridlock. What would Ron Paul bring to the table? Moregridlock? I think our politics and our economy is at a tipping point with this election. We cannot afford the “same old same old”, but neither can we afford any more unintended consequences.

Staff Writer; Rev. Victor Langhorne