Monday, April 23, 2007

Straight from the horse's mouth

A number of my friends have stated that they are supporting Congressman Ron Paul's presidential campaign because "even though he's running in the Republican primaries, he's running as a libertarian."

Today, I received a letter from someone who disagrees with that take on Ron Paul's campaign. You may recognize the writer's name -- he calls himself "Ron Paul."

The outside of the envelope bears the slogan "Time for a real conservative."

In the letter inside the envelope -- it's a fundraiser, of course -- Congressman Paul refers to himself and his supporters as "conservative" no less than eight times, according to my quick count. According to the same quick count, he uses the word "libertarian" a grand total of zero times.

Other inclusions and omissions may also be of interest to Paul's libertarian supporters:

- Paul gives two paragraphs of the letter to foreign policy, but conspicuously omits the word "Iraq."

- Paul's position on immigration -- which may well be "conservative," but can't by any stretch of the imagination be described as "libertarian" -- gets five paragraphs.

- I know that there are principled disagreements among libertarians on abortion (I'm pro-life myself), but when Paul mentions "overturning Roe v. Wade" -- without elaboration as to why that might or might not be a good idea -- he does so with the clear intent of portraying himself as more conservative, not more libertarian, than his opponents for the GOP's presidential nomination.

I believe that it is fair to describe Ron Paul as a libertarian, our disagreements on what that label entails aside. However, being a libertarian and running for president as a libertarian are two different things entirely.

Ron Paul isn't running for president as a libertarian. He's running for president as a conservative. He says so himself, repeatedly and unequivocally. If you're supporting Ron Paul for president, you should be very aware that you are supporting a conservative campaign, not a libertarian campaign. If you want to support a candidate who's running as a libertarian, well, I've repeatedly pointed you at one of those.

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