Ron Paul's Patience Competes With His Weird Ideas

Ron Paul, Libertarian for President sign on a truck in 1991's Slacker.
"Ron Paul is, above all, patient."—New York Times, October 17, 1988

It seems like Ron Paul has always been running for President of the United States. You can find the evidence even in pop culture icons, like the 1991 Richard Linklater movie, Slacker.

I've been listening to the man speak, and often make an ass out of himself doing it, for a long time. At the same time, he says things which most politicians, who actually get elected and all, don't usually say.

Now, on the one hand, being unusual, and provocatively so, can at least have the benefit of making one stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, it can unquestionably peg one as any number of pretty bad things—a loon, a racist, an insensitive, insufferable dolt—that might be a detriment if you wanted to run for political office someplace other than in the largest small-minded state (do you really have to ask which one?) in the USA.

In the last few days of his just-declared current candidacy for POTUS, Ron Paul has said some pretty remarkable things, for a politician:

1. He would have not ordered the SEALS to assassinate Osama bin Laden. He would have instead asked Pakistan to help out arresting the guy they were ignoring (on purpose) right under the nose of their military. That way, Paul says, legalities and the like, plus of course the all-important property rights, would have been honored and protected. When Noam Chomsky made a similar argument, not based on property rights, but simply on the premise that following some civilized rules of behavior might be a better course for the USA to pursue, he was widely rejected as a senile fool.

2. He would be fine legalizing heroin and prostitution. Now a LOT of people would be fine with one or both of those things being legal, but most Americans think that kind of libertarianism sounds like libertinism, and they don't want it anywhere near them or their precious little monsters—or kids if you're feeling generous. Paul of course always says he himself would want none of the products offered by these businesses, but in the interest of freedom, he feels that Americans should be able to legally choose to get high or get laid as they see it. One imagines the Walmart discount smack aisle, and its curtained relaxation booths for customers taking advantage of the cheapest girls in town.

3. He would have voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. First off, you should go read what that law was and what it did, just in case you're fuzzy on what Ron Paul calls "ancient history". But basically, and Paul even admits this, the 1964 Civil Rights Act went a long way towards dismantling the pervasive Jim Crow laws, and fundamentally improving (though not eradicating) the racist environment plaguing all Americans—especially black Americans—for far too long. Paul's argument is that the Act was an unconstitutional attack on the property rights of American businessmen, i.e. the businessmen who wanted to keep black people out of their establishments. As a libertarian, Paul thinks it is the right of every American to not only be a racist, but to act discriminatorily against anybody for any reason. He thinks the "market" is the best regulator of such problems, and argues that only an idiot would put up a sign these days saying "No blacks allowed". Thus, Paul says we do not need a law protecting a minority group from a threat that no longer exists, and which plagues the majority, and really all Americans, by restricting their right to be active bigots.

This is a peculiar time for Republicans. It is just possible that a completely unelectable character like Ron Paul could win the Republican nomination to run against Barack Obama. Not very likely of course, but in a race that is actually considering the possibility of somebody like Michelle Bachman being the Republican candidate, Ron Paul might look like the closest thing to mainstream Republicans can nominate. And, as we know, Ron Paul is a very patient man.