We needn’t dig too deeply to discover that the establishment Republican’s apparently irrational conduct toward Paul stems from his angst regarding Paul’s foreign policy vision. Paul, you see, rejects in no uncertain terms the notion that Big Government is not only permissible, but desirable, as long as it is non-American citizens abroad upon whom our government’s designs would be brought to bear. Loudly and unapologetically, he rejects the idea that “social engineering” is a good thing as long as it is other societies that our government seeks to “engineer.” Paul makes no secret of his utter contempt, a contempt born of his passion for liberty and individuality, for the belief that policies rooted in utopian fantasy are worthy of pursuit as long as it is not America, but the world, that our government seeks to perfect.
Ron Paul is persona non grata as far as “the leadership” as well as much of the rank and file of the Republican Party is concerned. How could he not be? After all, this shameless defender of the U.S. Constitution is relentless in his quest to expose the assumptions underlying their foreign policy prescriptions as members of the same species of folly as those informing the left’s vision of domestic policy.
To put it more specifically, Paul strives to remind Americans of the legacy bequeathed to them by their ancestors, an invaluable inheritance of individual liberty that those of past generations, through incalculable quantities of their blood, sweat, and tears, forged for their posterity. Our Fathers and Mothers, like our fathers and mothers, Paul beckons us to remember, worked long and hard so that we, their children, would eventually be able to stand on our own two feet. They longed for us not only to appreciate their gift of liberty, but to embrace it enthusiastically. Paul urges us to be forever mindful that it is this enthusiasm, and only this enthusiasm, that stands between our liberty and the totalitarianism that always threatens to consume it.
Big Government, whether it is invoked for purposes of imposing designs upon foreign countries or our own, is intrinsically antithetical to the liberty for which our Fathers lived and died. This any disciple of liberty knows. This Ron Paul knows. And it is the forgotten knowledge of this truth of which he tirelessly seeks to arouse within his countrymen and women.
I still believe that it is Paul’s position on American foreign policy that elicits most of the disdain with which his fellow Republicans greet him. But I am starting to believe that there is more to the matter than just this.
It isn’t just Paul’s approach to foreign policy with which Republicans take issue; they are displeased as well with his disposition toward domestic policy.
Note, it isn’t just Paul’s position on this or that domestic issue to which they object. It is his entire understanding of which these positions are a function that they find unpalatable. More precisely, Republicans, for all of their talk of liberty, find repugnant Paul’s view on the proper relationship between the government and the citizen, politics, and culture.
Ron Paul is an apostle of traditional American liberty. The vast majority of us are our Founding Fathers’ prodigal sons (and daughters) whom Ron Paul, at 76 years of age, continues to call home. From early on in Christian history, some of its brightest minds have sought to address “the problem of evil,” the problem of reconciling belief in an omnipotent and all-loving God with the presence of evil in the world. Usually, a resolution has been found in some variation or other of “the free will defense.” According to this line of reasoning, God could have created human beings so that they never did evil, but He preferred a creation in which humans were free, for only with free agents could He have a genuine relationship. However, the freedom to accept God’s offer of friendship inescapably entails the freedom to reject that offer. To put it another way, the freedom to do good is also the freedom to do evil.
God recognizes that there can be no virtue without freedom. Ron Paul does too.
It is precisely because of his recognition of this fact that Paul opposes all attempts to diminish individuals’ liberty for the sake of some amorphous “common good,” some supposedly moral state that the government is entrusted with bringing to fruition. More simply put, he staunchly opposes attempts to impute to the federal government the role of a parent, for if the government is a parent, then the citizen is its child.
While it isn’t obvious to many, the plain fact of the matter is that most of Paul’s fellow Republicans are no less committed to what we may, for purposes of convenience, refer to as “the Welfare State.” The “compassionate conservatism” championed by President George W. Bush and legions of other self-described “conservative” politicians and media personalities in the previous decade was just another term for “welfarism.” And though “compassionate conservatism” has fallen on hard times — no current Republican presidential aspirant would dare to characterize him- or herself in these terms — there is no denying that Republicans have abetted and continue to abet the growth of government vis-à-vis their approach to domestic policy.
There isn’t a single redistributive scheme that Republicans have sought to revoke, and plenty that they have actually initiated. But beyond the matter of “economic redistribution,” Republicans want to use the government as an agent of “character formation.” Rick Santorum is as pure an illustration of this propensity as any. From this perspective, the government must inculcate virtue in its citizens. The notion, common to Democrats and Republicans alike, that politicians generally and the President in particular are “leaders” is a function of this belief.
The pieces of this puzzle of Republicans’ reaction to Ron Paul’s advocacy of liberty and individuality are finally in place. They support a philosophy of Big Government and he does not. It is his stances on foreign and domestic policy that render Ron Paul the object of their scorn.