I never considered myself a Ron Paul voter, primarily because I’m not a libertarian – nor do I have much in common with libertarians. While I do not believe in authoritarianism, I also don’t believe in unrestricted freedom (re: anarchy). Regrettably, we’ve shown time and again that government regulation is necessary because we too often take the short view on our collective well being. Hell, that sentence alone is enough for a political smackdown, but if you’ve been reading this site for a while you already know this about me (and there’s a fair chance you’ve already smacked me around a little). Rather than debating libertarianism, this post’s purpose is to vent a little, in response to Mr. Paul’s Meet the Press appearance last week (which I didn’t hear until much later, via podcast).
Perhaps you’ve already heard about his comments. In that case you have no reason to read further. For all I know, it’s already been discussed at great length in the political news, but I haven’t been reading much this week so I wouldn’t know. But if you haven’t heard… well then, let me tell you a little about it.
Tim Russert was asking Mr. Paul about some of the comments he’s made in the past, and asked him to explain some of them. In particular, he asked Mr. Paul about his repudiation of the Lincoln Presidency. That’s right… I’m talking about THAT Lincoln… good ‘ole Abe. Don’t get me wrong, Lincoln wasn’t without his faults… but who isn’t? He was human, after all. But if I’m not mistaken the general consensus of history (and historians) is that Lincoln was one of our greatest American Presidents.
Ah, but not to Mr Paul. I’m paraphrasing the whole segment here because I don’t recall the exact quotes – but you can look it up if you like, it should be easy enough to google. In fact his voiced opinions on the subject go back quite a way (long before the Meet the Press appearance). Anyway, I believe he said something to the effect of: Lincoln didn’t have to start the Civil War… slavery would have virtually taken care of itself (or at least without bloodshed)… slavery disappeared from every other country in the world without wars.
Gad Zooks! It seems like every week I’m catching a podcast from the weekend that pops the lid on my brain case. He’s telling us Lincoln didn’t have to go to war… that the slow march of history was already rendering slavery obsolete? Didn’t the fracking south shoot first… over the results of a presidential election… over a president-elect who wasn’t calling for the repeal of slavery in the south? Doesn’t slavery STILL exist in the world today? (Not to mention virtual – if not actual – slavery, in the form of abusive, low-wage labor.) Does virtually free labor EVER become obsolete? And does anyone seriously think the south was on the verge of giving up their slaves, or would have anytime in the next century? Would they have taken any price as a buy-out for the basis of their entire economy (that the North could have actually afforded to pay)?
If memory serves, the issue of the south giving up their slaves wasn’t even on the table at the time (1850 – 1860). The only issue being discussed was if/how many FUTURE states would be allowed to have slaves; and if I’m not mistaken, a couple states (Missouri and Texas) had recently been admitted as SLAVE states. I could have some of that wrong, but you don’t have to be a history major to remember South Africa had Apartheid (admittedly, not exactly a system of slavery, but not much better) almost right through the 20th century. Is there any reason to believe the American south would have been any different? (Considering the civil rights movement was even necessary… and then didn’t occur until the 1960s… my guess is no.)
WTF is Ron smoking? Was this supposed to be some kind of twisted analogy to our involvement in Iraq? If so, does anyone but me out there find it preposterous? Alright, I suppose there are a few people out there still fighting the Civil War (in the cozy confines of their small minds) who see “the war of northern agression” as a perfect analogy to the war in Iraq. I strongly disagree. As I see it, it was the south that gave up on negotiating with the north. It was the south that was trying to justify an unjustifiable institution, regardless of context. And finally, it was the south that shot first – after years and years of bitter, polarizing debate and hard feelings. And by years and years, I don’t mean a six month spat with the UN Security council – I mean 70 years of near blood feud with your own countrymen. So if an analogy was what Mr Paul had in mind – I think he’s full of crap.
There’s a stretch: a (transplanted) New England liberal who thinks a Texas libertarian running as a conservative Republican is full of crap. Who woulda thunk it?
Ah, but let’s say I did agree. Mr Paul’s comments are dumb for another reason… they alienate A HUGE percentage of the electorate. For better or worse, accurate or not, slavery is seen as the big issue of the Civil War… and the general consensus is that slavery is bad. Keeping all of this in mind, I can’t immediately think of an interview which makes Mr Paul sound more like a right-wingnut than this one… either on the face of his comments, or after serious consideration.