To Paul Or Not To Paul

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

In case you’ve missed it, my friends David Gordon and Charles Johnson have been debating the left-libertarian basis for opposing Ron Paul’s candidacy. Check out David’s initial post, Charles’ reply, and David’s counter-reply.

I have plenty to say about this exchange, but it’ll have to wait till later, since exam week is starting and I’m pressed for time. So for now I merely link to it.

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13 Responses to To Paul Or Not To Paul

  1. Nathan December 7, 2007 at 6:30 pm #

    I shall look forward to your comments.

    By the way, why not change your wordpress display name to “Roderick” – possibly better than you appearing as “Administrator”.

  2. Robert Paul December 7, 2007 at 8:07 pm #

    “Left-libertarian” is such a vague term. I consider myself to be one, and I’m surprised there are some who would actively oppose Ron Paul’s candidacy, rather than just refraining from endorsing him. I understand that doesn’t apply to everyone involved here.

  3. Joel Schlosberg December 7, 2007 at 9:00 pm #

    Nathan, if he changes it I think it should be to “Emperor”, given the title of the blog.

  4. John T. Kennedy December 7, 2007 at 9:42 pm #

    On immigration Gordon writes: “Ron Paul doesn’t favor beating and jailing people.”

    So how would Paul deport people without force?

    Of course Paul favors force against criminals, and he clearly identifies illegal aliens as such.

  5. Dain December 7, 2007 at 9:51 pm #


    Perhaps he plans on making LEGAL immigration so easy that there’d be no need to beat or jail anyone?

  6. John T. Kennedy December 7, 2007 at 11:43 pm #


    Then that should be in his platform. Instead we see:

  7. Robert Paul December 8, 2007 at 1:18 am #

    Ron Paul’s position is to end the welfare state and then make legal immigration easy.

  8. Rad Geek December 8, 2007 at 7:24 am #

    Robert, there’s certainly no evidence of such a position in his platform. Here’s what he says. Boldface is mine.

    Physically secure our borders and coastlines. We must do whatever it takes to control entry into our country before we undertake complicated immigration reform proposals.
    Enforce visa rules. Immigration officials must track visa holders and deport anyone who overstays their visa or otherwise violates U.S. law. This is especially important when we recall that a number of 9/11 terrorists had expired visas.
    No amnesty. Estimates suggest that 10 to 20 million people are in our country illegally. That’s a lot of people to reward for breaking our laws.
    … Pass true immigration reform. The current system is incoherent and unfair. But current reform proposals would allow up to 60 million more immigrants into our country, according to the Heritage Foundation. This is insanity. Legal immigrants from all countries should face the same rules and waiting periods.

    In other words, Ron Paul apparently advocates:

    … having the government aggressively and rigidly enforce admittedly incoherent and unfair immigration laws; and
    … having the government adopt a new system of immigration laws which will still enforce “rules and waiting periods” — which have to be designed in such a way that they will prevent any substantially increase the number of immigrants entering the country above current levels.

    The position would still be statist even if it were what you’re describing, but it’s not. Paul has already ruled out any system of immigration liberal enough to substantially increase the number of immigrants legally entering the country as “insanity.”

  9. Dain December 8, 2007 at 2:20 pm #

    Ok then, thanks for the link John.

  10. David Gordon December 8, 2007 at 7:20 pm #

    May I clarify one statement in my article which has, to my surprise, been understood in a way I didn’t intend. When I said that libertarians should support Ron Paul, I was using “should” to recommend him: i.e., given the goals held by libertarians, my advice is to support him. I certainly did not mean that libertarians are under a moral obligation to support him, on pain of being a bad libertarian or a bad person. This use of “should” is, I think, the normal one that people intend when, campaigning for someone in an election, they urge that he “should” be supported.
    Much less do I think that libertarians have an obligation to support any libertarian candidate for office, so that if the Libertarian Party runs a presidential candidate in competition with Ron Paul, one would be obligated to support him as well. My view is only that, in the present circumstances, support for Ron Paul is a very good way to promote libertarian goals.

  11. Robert Paul December 8, 2007 at 7:31 pm #

    Rad Geek,

    I’m not sure that quote contradicts my interpretation, since we have a welfare state now. I haven’t been able to find a transcript, but if you watch part of the interview at (around the 38:00 mark), he discusses immigration in more detail. He explains, among other things, that with a reduction in the welfare state, he would support a “much more open [immigration] policy.” So the last sentence of your post does not appear to be correct, at least not in all circumstances.

  12. Robert Paul December 8, 2007 at 7:40 pm #

    I want to add that I don’t necessarily agree with Ron Paul’s position on immigration, but I do think his personal stance may have been misconstrued by some.


  1. Rad Geek People’s Daily 2007-12-11 – Dropping the plumb line - December 11, 2007

    […] On the relationship between libertarianism and leftist or feminist cultural projects, Gordon clarifies that he was not referring to the argument that Roderick Long and I advance in our essay on libertarian feminism, but rather to a different argument by a different writer. He has also stressed elsewhere that his argument is only intended to recommend Ron Paul as a candidate, not to claim that libertarians have some kind of moral obligation to support Ron Paul (or any other candidate in government elections). Fair enough. I’ll let those to whom his letter did refer speak for themselves, as far as the charge of subordinating libertarianism to leftist concerns goes. And for what it’s worth, my intention here is not to claim that libertarians have an obligation not to vote for Ron Paul, or even to make any recommendation for or against voting for Ron Paul. It is merely to take issue with the logic of certain arguments that have been used against libertarian critics of Paul’s campaign. In that vein, I don’t buy the argument that follows: […]

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