What follows is an overview of what Ron Paul is all about and what Libertarians are in a nutshell. Gary Johnson also fits the description below.
(It was originally for a friend’s classroom of kids but I wanted to post it here as well. Feel free to re-use or repurpose it as you see fit)
I guess the main thing is that Dr. Paul’s political positions don’t put him exactly on the Left or the Right. Some might say his positions are all over the map, but that’s only because they don’t understand where he’s coming from. Ron Paul’s views all come from the Constitution; he didn’t just think them up on his own. (You could even call Ron Paul and people like him “Constitutionalists”.)
Our Constitution is a very simple document that limits the power of government. It outlines what government (mostly central, i.e. federal government) can do for us and can’t do *TO* us. Back in the day we were very afraid of a monarch ruling over us so our Founding Fathers went to great lengths to make sure government could never do that again.
Our Founding Fathers believed that, without control, government would grow like a beast to seek more and more power, which would mean more taxes, more departments and more money for those in Congress (sound familiar?)
They knew that there are really only 2 forms of government, a Republic (rule of law) or an Oligarchy (rule by a group or family); all other forms of government are temporary and eventually morph into one of these. The Constitution was a document intended to keep us a Republic for as long as possible.
Once you understand these things, you can see that the views of a Constitutionalist all adhere to the same thing. Another widely held view is that the Government doesn’t do things efficiently; it spends money like it grows on tree and has many layers of unnecceasry beauracracy and waste. Ron Paul believes that the private sector can do things more efficiently and the role of government is to foster a fertile ground for the private sector to flourish.
Now here are some more specific things that someone like Ron Paul would do:
- Eliminate or drastically reduce funding from different Federal government departments like the FDA, the Department of Homeland Security, the EPA, the CDC and more.
- Eliminate the Income Tax and abolish the Internal Revenue Service
- Cut the Department of Defense’s budget by 15% or more
- Bringing overseas troops home immediately and only fight wars that are Constitutionally declared by Congress
- Eliminate foreign aid (the belief is that most foreign aid doesn’t help the people it’s intended for but instead goes to the rich or those who control that country)
- Stop the war on drugs and instead regulate and tax a drug like Marijuana
- Eliminate governments role in Health Care (This is a complex issue and it’s hard to get into every issue in-depth here – but check out http://www.ronpaul.com/on-the-issues/health-care/ – the gist is that private entities can do a better job for cheaper than a government-mandated system that covers everyone for everything.)
Some things that are interesting and very different about Paul are his personal views versus what he would do. For instance, he is personally against Abortion, however he thinks that the Federal government shouldn’t mandate an anti-abortion stance across the country. Abortion is a very sticky issue for many people with layers of complexity. Therefore it’s something that should be decided at the State level. (Some issues are so tricky that they can be pushed even more locally and decided at the city or town level.)
Early in our Republic, the idea was that the different States would be a sort of testing ground, and each one would have their own laws and would only very loosely be governed by the Federal government. That way if you didn’t like guns, or abortion, or wanted a State that had no taxes, you could live in that State. And if a State lost a huge population, they would have to “correct” the laws that made people leave in order to entice people to come back. The Federal government was there mainly for defense against other countries and dealing with them.
Another huge part of Ron Paul’s views are that of sound money. Our money used to be backed by the gold standard, but as of 1971 our money is essentially worthless (known as a “fiat currency”). We used to be able to take our money to a bank and trade in a dollar for a dollar’s worth in gold or silver. Nowadays, a dollar is worth… well, whatever we think it’s worth. This allows our Federal Reserve to print more and more money which devalues the money we have. And the Federal Reserve is not a Federal entity – it’s actually a private bank!
So whenever you hear about “ecomonic stimulus”, when a President is trying to kick the economy into gear, it’s really just the Federal Reserve getting the printing presses going and giving the money to banks at the highest levels. They hope that it trickles down and gets loaned out but there’s nothing that proves this works. It does, however lead to massive inflation and reduced purchasing power of our dollar.
Ron Paul believes that the ONLY way to have a good economy and reduce our deficit spending is to go back to a system of sound money; one that is backed by a commodity like silver or gold. The first step is to get a thorough audit of the Federal Reserve. (Would you believe that we have very little accounting of how much money they’re even printing?) If you control a nation’s economy, you can control that nation’s government, and this is perhaps THE fundamental issue facing our country right now.
So to sum up, Ron Paul believes in limited central government and the cause of Liberty. Stolen from someone else (http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul734.html):
“Liberty means to exercise human rights in any manner a person chooses so long as it does not interfere with the exercise of the rights of others. This means, above all else, keeping government out of our lives. Only this path leads to the unleashing of human energies that build civilization, provide security, generate wealth, and protect the people from systematic rights violations. In this sense, only liberty can truly ward off tyranny, the great and eternal foe of mankind.”
Further reading: What Would Really Happen If Ron Paul Were To Be Elected President?