The anti-Ron Paul rhetoric is getting shriller and contains a shade of hysteria. The offensive newsletters are objectionable and would disqualify him if they expressed his personal belief. They are also a valid issue in the campaign. As a public figure, Dr. Paul is subject to investigation and criticism, fair and unfair. But I don’t believe he is a bigot. If I thought he was a bigot, I wouldn’t support him.
Dr. Paul has a long record, public and private, and the only thing they can find to support these accusations are these newsletters. With most bigots, especially of the wink-wink-nudge-nudge variety, there is usually a pattern and history of bigotry. In Dr. Paul’s case, there have been a lot of people who have worked for him in his long career as a congressman and as a physician. If two people can verify that he is a bigot, they should come forward and tell the truth. So far, no one has.
The reason libertarians have to doubt that Dr. Paul is a bigot is that bigotry is quite anti-libertarian. I’ve known a lot of libertarians over the years, and I can’t remember any of them being bigoted. I am sure they exist, but I haven’t met them. On the other hand, I’ve known a lot of conservatives and those on the religious right who are bigots. A few Democrats as well. But to a firm believer in individual sovereignty, free markets and natural law, bigotry would be a negation of those ideas.
I read the accusatory New Republic article as well as several Reason articles and others on this subject. The New Republic article seems to assume these allegations are true and that Dr. Paul’s libertarian followers are willing to overlook these transgressions. Liberals would have a reason not to believe his denials since they believe anyone on the right is probably bigoted anyway and they don’t trust him or any “conservative” on this topic. The story in New Republic is largely innuendo. That is, since his name is on the newsletters, he must be a bigot. It only raises a question.
Reason says that he hasn’t handled these allegations well and there may be a conflicting record in Dr. Paul’s “denials.” Its articles also have a tendency to innuendo. It is clear that he has denied knowledge of these articles when they were written and he has disavowed what they say. It is easy to construct an argument of “inconsistency” against any public figure by going through the public record. For example, being a clever fellow and a lawyer, I could probably construct “inconsistencies” in any of Matt Welch’s or Nick Gillespie’s positions. My argument against them may or may not be true.
The non-libertarian criticisms of Dr. Paul tend to fall into the “See, I told you so. He is a wacko espousing a wacko philosophy” argument. Liberals are afraid of Dr. Paul because he would dismantle, or at least attempt to dismantle, the welfare state.
The conservatives and neo-cons fear Dr. Paul because he might win. Understand that conservatives are not classical liberal fountains of natural law and free markets either. They love the military and wish to perpetuate the glory of blood spilled on behalf of the American flag (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan II). They also love to regulate your personal behavior and, whether they admit it or not, contemporary conservatives love crony capitalism and protectionism as much as any Democrat. Their argument is, “We can’t let this guy into the White House because he’ll destroy America.” Conservatives believe he would let the Taliban march right in.
So the long knives come out.
There is a lot to like about Dr. Paul. There is also a lot to dislike. I have written about my dissatisfaction with his campaign. He has been on the defense for so many years, attacking the Establishment, finding support in any dark corner (Birchers, conspiracy theorists), that he seems to lack the ability to sway a majority by crafting a simple, positive message for the future of America. His libertarian base loves him, but can he sell his message to most Americans? He needs to act “presidential,” but he doesn’t. But we support him because we know he would make America prosperous, free and safe.
These accusations (that’s all they are) have not been backed up by one shred of evidence that Dr. Paul is a bigot. Until real evidence comes out, we may treat this shrillness as another political smear by the Establishment.
— Jeff Harding is a principal of Montecito Realty Investors LLC. A student of economics, he has a strong affinity for free-market economics. This commentary originally appeared on his blog, The Daily Capitalist.