Civil Liberties

Ron Paul Should Be Proud to Be 'Outside the Mainstream'

The Texas congressman is the only Republican presidential candidate who breaks decisively with the status quo.


"I don't think Ron Paul represents the mainstream," says Mitt Romney. Newt Gingrich, another of the Texas congressman's opponents in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination, uses stronger terms, declaring, "Ron Paul's views are totally outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American." 

As last night's results in Iowa suggest, the "mainstream" to which Romney and Gingrich refer is not defined by voters; it is the range of opinion deemed acceptable by leaders of the two major political parties. The mainstream has brought us a national debt the size of the national economy, a bloated yet overextended military that has strayed far from its mission of defending the country, and a lawless executive branch that usurps legislative powers and violates civil liberties. 

If that is what the mainstream represents, it is no place for decent Americans who support smaller government. Romney and Gingrich may think they are discrediting Paul, but they are actually recommending him as the only candidate who breaks decisively with the status quo. 

Although all of the Republican candidates pay lip service to fiscal restraint, Paul is the only one to propose actual spending cuts, as opposed to smaller increases. His plan would balance the federal budget by 2015. By contrast, Romney aims to "put us on a path to a balanced budget," while Gingrich vaguely promises to "balance the budget by growing the economy, controlling spending, implementing money saving reforms, and replacing destructive policies and regulatory agencies with new approaches." 

The fiscal incontinence of the Republicans not named Paul is vividly illustrated by their attitude toward defense spending: More is always better, and any cuts, even if they are only reductions in projected increases, recklessly endanger national security. Romney assails  "the Obama administration's irresponsible defense cuts," which would leave the Pentagon's budget bigger in a decade than it is today. The idea of going any further—say, reducing military spending to the amount appropriated in 2007, when the country was hardly helpless against its adversaries—is anathema to Romney and Gingrich. 

In this atmosphere, Paul's insistence that "there's a difference between military spending and defense spending" is a breath of fresh air, and so are his warnings about the consequences of failing to make that distinction. Although his opponents try to isolate him by calling him an "isolationist," his views are more in tune with public opinion than theirs. 

Paul supported military action against Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies following the 9/11 attacks, but he opposed the occupation of Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, and the air war against Libya, saying these operations were not grounded in national defense. Recent polls indicate that two-thirds of Americans agree with his judgment about Afghanistan and Iraq, while up to three-fifths questioned the intervention in Libya. Are all of these people "outside the mainstream" as well? 

In addition to its role in military adventures, an elastic definition of national security is the main justification for the steady expansion of presidential power, which has accelerated in response to Islamic terrorism. The New York Times recently asked the presidential candidates, "Which executive powers, if any, claimed and exercised by the Bush and/or Obama administrations were unconstitutional?" Paul cited unauthorized wars, warrantless wiretaps, torture, indefinite detention of terrorism suspects, and the assassination of people the president unilaterally identifies as enemies. He said the excesses of George W. Bush's counterterrorism policies were "among the worst abuses of executive authority in the nation's history," adding that Bush's successor has been worse in some respects. 

None of the other candidates could think of a single instance in which Bush or Obama exceeded his authority in the name of fighting terrorism or protecting national security. Romney's chief example of unconstitutional executive action was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is actually an example of unconstitutional legislative action. Gingrich said the problem is too little executive power, thanks to interference by the Supreme Court. If this is the mainstream, I want out.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

© Copyright 2012 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Enforces Gambol Lockdown. Status Quo maintained.

    1. Who enforces gambol lockdown?

      It’s hard for me to understand sentences when you omit names.

      1. Gambol lockdown is the brutal Prohibition of Non-State lifeways.

        Communists do it. Capitalists do it. Which shows the false political dichotomy of agricultural city-Statism. They both offer essentially the same brutal city-Statism in slightly different flavors.

        ? One Red.

        ? The other Red, White, and Blue.

        Big fucking deal.

        1. But I like “brutal city-statism” if it means not being a hypocrite like you.

          1. City-Statists like you always have an excuse for their brutal social organization.

            1. You should seek help for your gamboling problem.

        2. There is no gambol lockdown. I told you before that I was out gamboling about the plains and forests just last week. No one said anything. that is until I gamboled in the same area someone else was gamboling. Then they got all uppity and started stepping it up to frolicing. I had no choice but to respond with some galavanting. They started to sashay. Turns out, gambolers are real city-statist assholes.

          1. There is no Non-State sociopolitical typology, i.e., “gamboling about plain and forest,” in North America anymore.

            1. Yes there is. I just told you about it. Others have also mentioned that there are places you can go and do it and one person (I can’t remember who right now) offered you personally a chance to go and do it in order to prove your point by leading by example. What are you waiting for?

          2. OK, THAT was funny.

    1. What, that most evangelicals vote on the basis of policy views (as informed by their religion) and not religion per se, and thus vote for observant Roman Catholics and Mormons? It would be news if it came up soon after 1928 (and several Southern states’ Democratic parties organizing tacitly for Hoover against that wet Catholic Al Smith), I suppose.

      Though people who don’t know any evangelicals have the strangest opinions about them, just like people who don’t know any Muslims or atheists.

      1. It was POTOS front-page news during President Kennedy’s election, and if you lived in the South, you would recognize that the evangelicals are powerful enough to edit textbooks.

  2. Farting in a jar is no longer outside the mainstream. Well, unless you had too much Taco Bell.

  3. How is that being outside the mainstream treating you and the rest of the extremist Republican threat?

    Wise up, learn about the world and lets work together to build a stronger Democratic coalition to keep these racist nutjobs out of power!

    1. no infantophagous giants, -2pts.

    2. 0/10

      Try harder.

    3. Wise up, learn about the world

      What fact about the world do you think you know that we don’t that would cause us to change our minds?

      lets work together


      to build a stronger Democratic coalition

      Goodness no.

      to keep these racist nutjobs out of power!

      Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realise you were a five-year-old. Now I feel mean.

    4. Oh, my God, you’ve convinced me. I should never have questioned Dear Leader. I mean, he has pretty much spent the last 3 years acting exactly like the evil BOOSH, only HARDER, but it’s only been a ploy, right? A test, yes! NEXT term comes civil rights, respect for privacy, ending non-defense foreign wars, closing GITMO, economic prosperity, and environmental bliss. We must remain FAITHFUL! Where do I sign up to help? Umm.. Hello?

    5. So, it’s either “racist nutjobs” or socialist control freaks.

      Some choice.

  4. tl; dr Ron Paul is different and better.

    This is the least necessary article that has ever appeared in Reason.

    1. This was one of his newspaper columns, so the intended audience was Joe Blow, not Reason readers.

  5. It was the mainstream which got us into the present mess and it will have to be someone outside the mainstream to get us out.

    1. Isn’t that pretty much always true when you’re in a mess?

  6. Ron Paul does *very* well with youth and independents.

    Hmm, what if those folks turned out to be “the mainstream”?

  7. I’m surprised and pleased Ron Paul did as well as he did. I never expected him to actually win but his close third says a lot. There’s still a chance this could help make up the minds of voters in early Primary states.

    1. If Paul did win, Iowa would have been dismissed as to white, too conservative, too ______(fill in the blank). His third place is a perfect position, in that the the two alphas of this race need to concentrate on each other, and Paul can spend time making clear that he’s not for selling cocaine and heroin but for States controlling that decision. 

      Ron Paul needs to clarify that the same people who don’t want certain drugs available on the federal market are the one and the same who are voting in their respective States. 

      The option of medical marijuana is a  fundamental human rights issue for the diseased violated, and that is best decided by people who witness the suffering, and not by Feds who want the suffering to bite the bullet for the “greater good”

      1. “the diseased violated”?
        Nice. Orwell would be so proud. Can we stow the weepy bullshit? This is about one segment of people in our society wanting to get high verses another segment not wanting others to get high.

        If this is played out at the state level, then it is fine by me. Different states would have varied outcomes. That is how it is supposed to work. The sale of a commodity within a state, when it is grown and sold within the same state _should_ be outside federal jurisdiction. Given current legal precedent it is not.

        Trying to cloak this as some medical issue is crap. It is an issue about Federalism.

        1. Wrong, it is just as simple as being in a room with an ailing person; it would make the most cold-hearted STFU.

          The fact that these laws are written, and enforced on a federal level gives the author anonymity.

          My point is the best laws are written on the community level, where the effects are visible, and hold the legislators culpable

          1. My first point is that using an emotional argument leads to the BS governance we have today. Take ‘no child left behind’ or ‘the war on drugs’ or ‘the war on poverty’ are all the result of the kind of emotional response you are advocating. The road to hell is paved with this sort of shit.

            Our laws should be judged as worthy or not depending on whether they violate the constitution and by an extension of the 9th and 10th amendment some natural right indirectly alluded to there within.

            My second point is that the number of people who can ONLY get relief through smoking grass as opposed to taking some narcotic is tiny when compared to the population in general.

            The real fight is between those who want to get stoned, and those who think getting stoned is worse than getting drunk. Since marijuana and other drug prohibition is turning into as big a fiasco as the prohibition of alcohol was, this is where argument regarding federalism comes into play. Most of the anti-drug statues were passed in the progressive age at the turn of the 20th century. If we can overturn that mess we might be able to overturn most of the rest of the progressive agenda.

            I agree with your instinct regarding local governance as being superior, but an argument that appeals to the heart is something I will not trust. Charity and empathy belong in the public square – but they should not be the arbitrator of what is legal.

            1. “Our laws should be judged as worthy or not depending on whether they violate the constitution and by an extension of the 9th and 10th amendment some natural right indirectly alluded to there within.”
              The constitution’s interpretation has become a burlesque dance but I do believe that natural law exists, and some call it religion; I believe in following my conscience first.

              “My second point is that the number of people who can ONLY get relief through smoking grass as opposed to taking some narcotic is tiny when compared to the population in general.”
              Your ignorance of disease leads you to an erroneous but common conclusion. Most illness is progressive, and the use of pain relief can halt the cycle. Aids is a great example of marihuana use and the side-effect of ‘munchies’; it bought time for the diseased to not decline into the wasting nature which was the precursor to full AIDS.

              “The real fight is between those who want to get stoned, and those who think getting stoned is worse than getting drunk. Since marijuana and other drug prohibition is turning into as big a fiasco as the prohibition of alcohol was, this is where argument regarding federalism comes into play. Most of the anti-drug statues were passed in the progressive age at the turn of the 20th century. If we can overturn that mess we might be able to overturn most of the rest of the progressive agenda.”
              Americans are smart enough to know alcohol has addiction issues, and more so that pot but to blame the “just say no” republicans.

              “… but an argument that appeals to the heart is something I will not trust….”
              but you are a man

              1. ‘I believe in following my conscience first.’
                So do many a tyrant, dictator and other puffed up fools. Got the bubble now.

                ‘Your ignorance of disease leads you to an erroneous but common conclusion.’
                How do you know i am not a doctor butthead.

                BTW …
                Anaphylactic reactions to anaesthesia and associated agents used during the perioperative period have been variably recorded depending on the country and the mechanisms involved. The estimated incidence of anaphylaxis is 1/10,000 to 1/20,000 in Australia and 1/13,000 in France.

                ‘but you are a man’
                I see. You are an idiot.

                1. jacob the barbarian,

                  I believe in following my conscience first, and I will do so every time I’m called to jury duty. The law is secondary to morality but if you want to be a robot, your life.

                  Writing your blog does not a doctor make

                  Anaphylactic reactions?…Idiot?
                  Once again, male brain

                  1. Is the supercilious air of superiority something you have to work at, or are you a natural?

                    1. superiority = female
                      Yes, it is natural.
                      Now be a good libertarian and confirm my arguments are prevailing by calling me a cunt 😉

          2. In my experience, some of the most vile, intrusive, and completely unnecessary laws come from the “community” level. Perhaps it’s because they come from the same smug, self-satisfied mentality as being part of the majority: “We’re your NEIGHBORS, we know what’s best for YOU”

            1. @mike, I get you, but the federal BS is still way worse, if only because you can at least usually play ring and run with the mayor. Fresh dog shit is best for this.

            2. Endless Mike, I am not referring to local government as community. For example, local hospitals should be able to set their own policies because of their client base. Generally, dialysis patients are from lower income, less healthy families, and control at the community level would serve their needs efficiently

              1. But, you said “the best laws are written on the community level” –
                Hospitals don’t write laws, they make policies (when there ability to do so is not hindered by, well, laws) because they own the building and hire the staff. So are you advocating getting government out of the picture and letting the hospital set its own policies for its patients? If so, well then, I agree.

      2. If Paul did win, Iowa would have been dismissed as to white, too conservative, too ______(fill in the blank).

        Oh, I know this one! Racist! Amirite?

  8. I work with a bunch of conservatives / Republicans. They all think that RP is pretty much a kook. I start pointing out the good things he has to offer, and they just mumble “He wants to end the military” or something like that.

    1. Fortifying the homeland and eliminating adventurism = ending the military?

      Mother-fucking logic, how does it work?

      Have you tried explaining that to them, or do they just grumble?

      1. you don’t, libertard.

        Civilization is a prisoner’s dilemma, and libertarianism is the loosing game plan.

        1. “libertard”. WHOO! He got you there!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHHHHAHAHHAHAHAHA

      2. I have tried. The ‘logic’ appears to go as follows …
        “If we return the troops home, they (pick one: Iran, Korea, Al queda …) will use that as their chance to sneak a nuke into NYC or DC or they will nuke Israel.

        OK. WTF is stopping them now?

    2. He’s getting respect from Sarah Palin, though of course that won’t stop any of the hatred on any side. Political views are often about tribalism.

  9. A good summery of the current situation. The distinction between national defense and military spending seems to have gone over the heads of mainstream media. No worries the commander in chief will get us in a war with Iran before Romney or Paul can get elected. It’s too bad the people who are so hell bent on bombing and killing have never witnessed its results of such maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to send in the drones.

    1. I want a Nintendo War to call my very own. How dare you talk about cutting military spending!

    2. Actually, I don’t think it would matter to them. I think they really don”t care (not that they wouldn’t weep and cry up a storm to make you think they fell just horrible about it). But I think there are enough psychopaths with delusions of grandeur in our ruling class that even exposing them to the consequences of their actions would’t matter: they wouldn’t care.

  10. I wonder how this mainstream will look when a few more in the baby boomer generation start kicking the bucket. If RP’s message really resonates with college kids then the future may not be so bad after all.

  11. Sounds liek a pretty good idea to me dude.

  12. David Horowitz and Co. are still ramping up the Paul hate. The views of the writers (and commenters!) are distorted, but nobody ? not Reason, not AntiWar, not American Conservative ? calls them on it.

      1. With the exception of the 2007 article, none of this touches on the Paul-bashing, especially of late.

        1. Let me fucking google that for you.

  13. The whole idea of a single mainstream in American life or politics is a crock anyway. It never really existed & was largely a construction of the consensus school of historians just after WWII. You can see it summarized in Schlesinger’s (in)famous essay “The Paranoid Style.”

    The idea of a mainstream in the last 25 years or so has simply become a blunt instrument used to bludgeon anybody who doesn’t go along with the elite’s idea of a “consensus.”

      1. You’re a part of it.

        1. You’re a part of it.

  14. Ron Paul predicted the housing bubble, devaluation of the dollar and an increasingly aristocratic government using the Federal Reserve to fund the destruction of our rights. He was derided by the “experts”. Yet his predictions have come true. Ron Paul’s foreign policy of non-intervention is the intention of our Founding Fathers and clearly delineated in the Constitution. He is derided by the “experts” despite the mounting evidence of his prescience.
    The government and its media messengers depict elections as sporting events as if the only important aspect is who wins and loses. Principles are tossed out the window. The dire consequences of a continuation along the path the nation is taking becomes ever more apparent. Only Ron Paul of all the candidates seems to be aware.

    1. ^^This^^

    2. Yet his predictions have come true.
      which answers why he is outside the mainstream; it’s because the mainstream has no issue with such outcomes, just its ability to find political gain in them.

  15. The more the MSM and GOP ‘establishment’ dump on him, the better Paul looks. I ain’t young, ain’t hip or cool, but guess who gets my vote in the primary and – if he makes it – in the general election?

  16. Wolfie “rudolph” Blitzen, world savant journalist:
    Mr. Generic mainstream republican, do you think weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq? If you had been president, would you have invaded? Who do you think is most responsible for missing the danger of Osama bin Laden. Why do you think the Bush administration was unable to find him? Do you think this shows a lack of intelligence………expertise in the Bush administration?
    Was tarp a good idea? If not, why was it done?
    Should any Homeland securtity employees be fired for ineptitude or lack of good sense? How many have been fired?
    Do you think George Bush was a good president? What was his best decision? What was his worse decision?
    Which is more important, lower taxes or a balanced budget?

  17. There is something other-worldly about Ryonen. It’s got a lot to do with her flawless milk-white complexion.

    Mostly it is her eyes that captivate us. They are like pools hinting at mysterious depths. Let’s not forget the rest of her though. This petite 21 year old girl is rich in sensuous curves and perfectly formed in every way. Swimming and yoga keep her gorgeous body in peak condition.

    Ryonen’s talents have many facets. She is a student at university in her home town of Portland, Oregon. She is devoted to fashion and all aspects of art nouveau, as well as off-beat photography. Her interest art is wide ranging and original. “I love strange and interesting poses” she tells us “and I love to create images of beauty and terror, joy and sadness.” Studies of the nude form have always fascinated her.

    Now it’s time for the practical.

    1. This is getting to be like those public safety announcements. Its mildly annoying but you learn to tune it out.

      Keep up the good work 1st!

      1. Thank You.

  18. I see that picture, and I want the caption to be “I find your lack of faith disturbing…”

  19. The opponents of Ron Paul criticize him for being “outside the mainstream.” The underlying assumption behind this criticism is that truth is always to be found in some halfway point between two extremes. The possibility that many Americans are way off base and are in fact fools is not to be considered, because in a democracy the way to get elected is to flatter your constituents.

  20. Paul may sound a bit crazy to some, but maybe a little “crazy” is what we need. I think we would be pleasantly surprised if people were allowed to live their lives with the freedoms the Constitution provides. There may be some ugly consequences for some, but that is the price of freedom.

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