By Brendan Callanan
Republicans pride themselves on being the party of small government and personal freedom. However, lying under the perennial façade of “getting the government off our backs” is a party that has thoroughly embraced big spending and curtailing individual liberty.
Unless it’s cutting taxes or slashing miniscule portions of the federal budget, such as the arts or foreign aid, you’ll be hard pressed to find members of the current Republican Party in any position to label themselves as conservatives. Although the “blame Bush” rhetoric has become tired at best, one cannot deny the detrimental effects on our economy that has resulted from our long-term presence in the Middle East.
Enter Ron Paul. In truth, he’s not going clinch the Republican nomination, nor will the Republican Party embrace his ideas at this summer’s convention, but the fact that he stands among the final four potential nominees and will likely continue to amass delegates well into the spring provides us with a glimpse of what could be the changing attitude of the GOP.
Paul’s most fervent and loyal supporters are young voters aged 18-30. It is fair to assume that two of Paul’s fundamental principles can be attributed to this phenomenon: his foreign policy of non-interventionism and his domestic policy of social libertarianism.
Regardless of party affiliation, a majority of college-aged individuals are opposed to our prolonged involvement in the Middle East and other worldly affairs, and believe that government has no place in regulating how individuals live their lives and treat their bodies, notably on the issues of gay marriage, drug use, and abortion.
In our digital age, an individual’s ability to express himself has never been so unrestricted. The idea of government-mandated morals is antiquated at best.
Paul’s records displays impeccable consistency. He has never voted in favor of government stimuli or bailouts to big banks and other Wall Street firms.
While his stance on eliminating the Federal Reserve is decidedly outrageous, one cannot deny that the institution that largely dictates monetary policy in the United States is in dire need of oversight. Indeed, young voters are likely to be far more divisive on the issue of government’s role in social welfare and regulating the economy, but Paul’s consistency is both admirable and appealing.
Maybe within twenty years in the area of social policy we’ll see change. The religious right remains far too pertinent a political force in the country to allow full-fledged social libertarianism to take hold; however, there is no doubt in my mind that we will witness a lax in drug laws and an embracement of gay marriage in our lifetimes.
A change in foreign policy may not be as imminent, and perhaps for good reason. In fact, I believe that Paul’s worldview centers too much around the idea that all of the world’s problems stem from America’s overinvolvement. True, as a nation we should exercise more caution in utilizing our military prowess for the greater good (as we did in Iraq), but regardless of America’s actions, the world would still remain a dangerous place.
Ron Paul is aging and will turn 77 in August, but I believe that some of his basic principles will continue to resonate for generations.
Although a few of his ideas may lack practical applicability (for instance eliminating the Federal Reserve and completely dismantling our military presence overseas), the fact that Ron Paul has persevered far into the primary season proves that he will not be going away any time soon.