Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ron Paul on "Meet the Press"

I just finished watching. I'm afraid I had my usual reaction. I felt let down, like something was missing. For one thing, Ron Paul talks too much about the Constitution and too little about liberty and justice. War in Korea would okay if Congress wanted it? When was the last time Congress voted for a declaration of war without the president asking for it?

He also sounded unprepared. If he is going to call for ending the income tax (why that one and not the others?) and for bringing all the troops home, he should know the numbers. He looks like he's winging it. No excuse for that.

The immigration answer was a disaster. He persists in speaking of an invasion. How offensive! He's lucky Russert wasn't better prepared. How does Ron Paul know we'd have fewer immigrants if the welfare state were abolished? I think we'd have more, considering how attractive the economic environment would be. But would he open the borders then? I'm not convinced he would. I am more and more suspicious of this welfare-state rationalization for immigration control. It has worn so thin there is virtually nothing left of whatever credibility it had.

I think I'll stop watching news of the campaign. I'm tired of being disappointed.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.


Gene Callahan said...

"He also sounded unprepared. If he is going to call for ending the income tax (why that one and not the others?) and for bringing all the troops home, he should know the numbers. "

Yeah, those moments were awful. And he'd better be able to say just who in Israel wants us to bomb Iran.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sheldon, a couple of comments:

I'm also disappointed in RP's position on immigration. BUT...it seems that we have to keep reminding ourselves that he is not running as a "libertarian" (nor anarchist!), per se; but rather as a "constitutionalist" and "champion of the constitution" (regardless of our positions on the merits of the constitution).

As such, I doubt that he thinks war in Korea would be necessarily OK if Congress declares war. The point he's making is that it would be LEGAL. As president, he would have the obligation to follow through with his constitutional duty as "commander-in-chief" of the military. I've read/seen/heard a lot of RP's comments, and he appears to be quite anti-war, but he is not a pacifist (nor is he running as a pacifist; and nor am I accusing you of calling him one).

Sheldon, consider your comments on the legality of the income tax. I agree that it is legal, but not moral. But the president doesn't have the legal authority to abolish it with the stroke of the pen. He has to work with Congress to get it eliminated legally. To me, this is the crux of the matter. RP is trying to use "the system" to dismantle "the system". I believe this to be ironic, but not hypocritical (not that I'm accusing you of calling him hypocritical on this particular point). See this link for comments on the "gradualism or abolitionism" debate:


Now, I also agee with you that some of his responses could have been better, but that is for the official campaign to recognize and correct. RP needs to slow down when speaking, because he sometimes stammers. But he's not claiming to be a brilliant speaker/orator!

Getting back to the immigration issue, I'm not so sure that he is as "anti-immigrant" as some have suggested. Yes, he is opposed to illegal immigration (for whatever reasons), but I suspect that much of the "offical" pronouncements are just to try and siphon votes from that aspect of the Republican Party that is opposed to illegal immigration. As such, I think this is just his skill of "politicking". I think that he believes that he wouldn't get the nomination of he were openly in favour of open borders and amnesty. Especially, coupled with his non-interventionist foreign policy! In my opinion, I think that his heart is not really in it. IN MY OPINION, the way he spoke at the Univision debate seemed a lot truer to his heart, i.e. that immigrants are scapegoats.

Sheldon, you say that you're tired of being dissapointed. But we can't let ourselves put anyone on a pedestal, since we are bound to be disappointed. Doubly so, if we realize that that person doesn't claim to be 100% in agreement with us. After all, I hold you in high regard (but not on a pedestal), even though we are not in 100% agreement!

Richard G.

Sheldon Richman said...

I am disappointed because he should have been better prepared as well as more libertarian. Most of the questions were predictable ones that he's gotten over and over. Example: he was asked about earmarks for his district. I think his answer is reasonable (if the money is already taken and is being given out, why not get some of it back?), but it was poorly and defensively phrased. He fell into Russert's trap. Same with his answer to the term-limits question. There is a difference between making choices at the rule-selection level and making choices within the rules you're stuck with. He needs a clear way to explains that.

You say that the campaign has to work on his answers, but it's a little late for that. What are the waiting for? This was "Meet the Press." He won't get another chance like that!

Leon Kassab said...

I have to admit, you really have hit the nail on the head with the Ron Paul campaign. I hate to admit this, I've tried my best to remain positive, mostly because I've never seen a campaign like this, and I want to play no part in damaging it. But you are absolutely right when you point out Dr. Paul's oratory shortcomings and poor preparation.

On the other hand, I think there are grounds to be optimistic, even if Ron Paul does not succeed in the primaries, think of all the new people that have been introduced to Austrian economics and philosophical libertarianism. It is amazing to me that people are suddenly willing to discuss the federal reserve and the gold standard. Until a few years ago, when I attended Freedom University at FEE, I had never met anyone (in person) that believed/discussed these things. Now I hear people discussing it while riding the buses on my college campus.

I believe this will carry on past this election cycle. I would like to believe that the dragon seeds have been sewn, and this astonishing campaign will produce a new generation of libertarians. Hopefully one among this new well of support will be able to articulate the arguments better than Ron Paul.

In essence, even if Ron Paul loses, he has motivated a large number of formerly apathetic citizens. This is the first step to shifting the bell-curve of ideology. The next step is patience and cultivation of the new movement.

I would think now is the time for FEE, Mises Institute, etc, to actively push for new readers and new supporters, rather than turn toward the pessimism of ignoring the campaign for its shortcomings. Actively advertise for the youth/college summer programs and lecture events while the Ron Paul Revolution is at its peak of passion. This just seems to be the perfect time to capitalize on the awakened movement that has evolved despite Dr. Paul's obvious shortcomings.

Just my thoughts on the subject.

Thomas Bell said...

The reason why Ron Paul is different from what you want him to say is politics--getting the most people to believe in and vote for him. I personaly like what you are saying. Except for the income tax, I agree with you. However, if you can magically convert Paul to a Seldon Richman clone, a few of us would like it, but he will lose votes. That is why I separate myself from politics, so I can say what I believe without worrying about other opinions.

Anonymous said...


I share your disappointment with how he could/should have answered some of the questions. Reading various messageboards and attending meetups, I've noticed quite a few supporters have been critical of the some of the decisions made by the official campaign. Many of which I also share. But then again, I've never run a campaign! Who knows what goes on behind the scenes? Also, as we all know, hindsight is 20/20. Perhaps you could contact the campaign directly with your criticisms, and/or helpful hints?

I tend to give RP a break in certain respects, given that he is 72 years old, and travelling all over the U.S. making numerous appearances. It has got to be both physically and mentally fatiguing, especially for a senior citizen. Perhaps it would be better for him to give speeches with cue cards, in order to prevent slip ups. But then again, I've noticed many supporters like it when he speaks from memory, even if it means the occasional flub. They feel he comes across as more genuine, and well educated.

Another "problem" is that RP seems to be a "nice" guy, hence he tends not to talk over the interviewer to get his point across. In fact, I think in one of the debates he recognized that he wasn't as vocally forceful as he could/should be. But that's the way he is as a human being. He appears to be an introvert who now has to be an extrovert to try and get votes. That must be difficult, but I give him props.

He has said that he himself is flawed, but the freedom message is not. That was said on Leno, BTW.

Sheldon, you said that he fell into Russert's trap. That may be, and perhaps you could email MEET THE PRESS to correct them on a few things? Also, I would urge/challenge you (and other freedom lovers) to try and get on these various programs. Show us how it could/should be done. As Leon alluded to, let's strike while it's hot! While having a blog is helpful (as well as publications like THE FREEMAN), it reaches only so many people (and most of those people are already knowledgable about liberty). We need to translate the intellectual discussions into action.

Richard G. (Canadian for RP)

Jimi G said...

Wow, what a lively discussion!

Sheldon says, "I'm tired of being disappointed."

Expectation is the root of all disappointment. It mystifies me how one so wise in the true nature of politics as Sheldon could still have expectations. And an anarchist, no less!

My money was on Sheldon coming to his senses and eschewing all this Ron Paul nonsense. Glad to see this is coming to pass.

As for Paul being a "Constitutionalist," which I believe his rhetoric and voting record support, well, Spooner said it best (and I paraphrase) that if the Constitution got us into this mess, then what the hell good is it?

I'm with Spooner -- I believe that all humans should have the same right to vote -- NONE. Please join me in NOT VOTING, the only strategy that can effect political change. Thank you very much.

Jimi G said...

Sorry, change "expectation" above to "expectoration." I ALWAYS make that mistake.

Whenever I hock up a loogie (sp?), I am disappointed without fail.

Sheldon Richman said...

That I had expectations which could be disappointed doesn't mean I had the HIGHEST expectations. I didn't expect Ron Paul to run as a pure libertarian or an anarchist. But I expected him to know what the income tax takes in, how many troops are stationed abroad, and how much money noninterventionism would save. I expected him to frame his answers crisply so as to get to the point quickly. That's all. Was that expecting too much?

D. Saul Weiner said...

No, I think that the campaign needs to use some of its hard-earned cash to pay someone to research all of these specific points, for Paul to have at his ready.

Brandybuck said...

If not voting can change things, then we would have had change by now! The apathetics greatly outnumber the principled anarchists by such a degree it's pointless trying to find the latter in the statistics. Not voting because you feel it is a waste of time is rational. Not voting because you think you are casting some sort of anti-vote at the meta level is not.

Jimi G said...

"Was that expecting too much?"

Expectation (unqualified) is the root of all disappointment.

Ergo, any expectation sets the stage for disappointment.

I should have been clearer about not voting being the only way to change things. I mean there should be NO VOTING. By anyone. Period. Not garden variety apathy by 40% of the population. I mean a coordinated 100% non-voting effort. It is the only way to unmask the fallacy of popular sovereignty that allows the powers-that-be to run the show undercover.

My principled non-voting status is my Nockian way of doing my part. Will you do yours?