Saturday, January 07, 2012

Why this Evangelical is Voting for Ron Paul

I rarely write on issues that are solely political in nature. As a follower of Jesus and a regional leader of global missions, I frankly have more important things to write about, and understand that no eartthly kingdom compares to the eternal Kingdom of God I'm called to proclaim.

Furthermore, I want my primary message to always be that of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and entering exlusively into prolonged political conversation inevitably dilutes that message. For these reasons, this will be my one and only public political endorsement this year. But before I make it, a couple of qualifications are neccesary.

First, I'm making this endorsement as a private citizen, and posting it on a privately-owned website that is in no way funded by the organization that employs me. When I speak as Director of Missions, I represent 12,000 Baptists in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area, and when it comes to the political, we are a diverse bunch, so I don't in any way want to give the impression that I am speaking for them, for the churches they attend, or for the Association I'm privileged to serve. Additionally, there is always an irrational fear--usually from the political left--that in making an endorsement I'm somehow violating Constitutional law. I wouldn't want Rev. Barry Lynn and "Americans United for Separation of Church and State," the ACLU, or any other loony-left group of people who have yet to find a real job to have any reason to think that someone's "rights" are being violated by what I say here.

Second, the nature of this endorsement is likely to trouble some of my ministry colleagues, who have already expressed suprise at my personal choice for President this year. While there is no candidate in the race with whom I am in 100% agreement, I hope this post will clarify why a conservative evangelical Christian is not only able to vote for someone who is not "far right" on every issue, but sometimes SHOULD cast such a vote.

With that said, I'd like to list here the primary reasons I believe Ron Paul Should be the next President of the United States, and then address some concerns that I often hear about some of Ron Paul's views.

1. Ron Paul is the true "Champion of the Constitution." Name the issue: Whether it is fiscal policy, foreign relations, national security, or social issues, Ron Paul is the only candidate in the field who consistently appeals to the Constitution of the United States. When the left appeals to emotion when arguing for continued funding of unsustainable government programs, Ron Paul answers with our founding documents. When the right appeals to fear when arguing for stronger "security measures" that steal individual liberty, Ron Paul answers with our founding documents. Ron Paul's views, compared with other candidates, reveal him to be the only one who truly believes that we are a nation of law and not of men. In contrast to Gingrich, who has publicly stated he would purposefully go around Constitutional law if he thought it neccesary to "protect us," Ron Paul believes that no one individual is above the Constitution, including the President.

As a result, Congressman Paul has been the lone voice opposing the Federal Reserve, insisting on closing any federal department not expressly authorized by the Constitution, and sounding the alarm about how the so-called "Patriot Act" and sections of the most recent version of NDAA blatantly violate habeus corpus and our fourth ammendment rights.

Over a decade ago, former President George W. Bush suggested that the right saw the Constitution as an authoritative document to be followed, while the left saw it as a "living, breathing document" subject to interpretations not dependent on the intent of the founders. Since that day, I have come to realize that both Republicans and Democrats treat the Constitution with disdain. They just disagree about which parts of it they want to ignore. I'm weary of Presidential candidates with little respect for our body of law. I want a President who understands that no one is above that law, especially the Chief Executive. Among all the candidates in the current field, Ron Paul is the only one who seems to understand this.

2. Ron Paul tells it like he sees it. Admittedly the 76-year-old candidate isn't the most eloquent speaker in this group. Frequent verbal bridges and blunt remarks that could be better expressed sometimes get in the way of the message. This is especially true when Paul is onstage alongside such magnanimous speakers as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Furthermore, there have been many verbal gaffes in this campaign that have left him misunderstood. But if one only takes the time to look past the delivery to the actual message, one observes something that I don't believe is evident in any other candidates' platform: the unvarnished truth unaccosted by nuances that appeal to the "party line."

All the candidates speak about a prosperous America. All the candidates speak about a strong and secure America. Only Ron Paul has spoken in detail, and substantively, about how he would seek to bring this about. Some of his ideas are controversial, and still others highly unpopular (I would say it is because they are misunderstood, and will explain more below). But among the current slate of candidates, when asked a direct question, Ron Paul is the only one who provides a direct answer.

To be sure, there are much more eloquent candidates in the field. Indeed, there are many on that platform that appear more "Presidential" (whatever that means) than Ron Paul. But we elected our current incumbent largely due to his silver tongue, in spite of the fact that he had never run a business, met a payroll, or served in any executive capacity whatsoever. I think we've had enough eloquent speech. What we need now is plain, straight-talk.

3. Ron Paul has the only sane fiscal policy. The "bloody ram's head" that sits conspicuously on our nation's table right now is that we cannot continue to sustain a budget that created a $15 trillion debt. But there are two hard truths that must be faced in order to solve this problem that neither major political party, as a whole, wants to face. Defense and Entitlements are the two largest portions of the federal budget, and in order to get our fiscal house in order, both must be cut substantially. But Republicans won't agree to cut the former, and Democrats refuse to cut the latter. Ron Paul is the only candidate who states the unpopular but plain truth that both must be cut, and that both CAN be cut without dismantling our ability to defend ourselves or sending millions into poverty.

Additionally, Congressman Paul has consistently opposed the existence of the Federal Reserve. It was Ronald Reagan who once said "Government isn't the solution to our problem. Government IS the problem." If ever there was a government entity that tangibly proved this statement true it is the Federal Reserve System. Those on the right and left have differing views on what to do with the Fed in order to improve our economy, but neither considers that the Fed itself--with the way it has kept interest rates artificially low while simultaneously destroying our money supply with inflationary practices--might be the source of the problem.

4. Ron Paul may be the only candidate who knows the meaning of "liberty." Many examples could be given to prove this, but the most recent and obvious would be the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011. Normally a benign bill annually passed to fund the Pentagon's defense budget and the military, the current version of NDAA contains two "poison pills" that allow the incarcertaion and indefinite detention of AMERICAN CITIZENS, without due process, by the American military. This blatant violation of Posse Comitatis sets the stage for a future in which political opponents who are able to be "linked" in any way with suspected terrorist organizations could simply be locked up and silenced indefintely.

But perhaps the greatest tragedy of this piece of legislation is the way in which it could change the perception of our military. My kids are learning to honor those who serve in our military as heroes who protect our freedom, and who are on our side. The newest version of NDAA creates an environment where my kids could have their homes invaded and their parents arrested and held indefinitely by those same military personnel.

What is horrifyingly strange about all this is that no political candidate is sounding the alarm about this gross violation of the law by our current Congress, and our current President who signed it into law. Since 9/11, American's have had their right to privacy violated in every place from the internet to airports. We have been forced to succomb to an emerging and growing "police state" in which it now appears the military may even become a part of that police force. More recently, American citizens have been targeted abroad for assassination, without due process. Not a single candidate for President is saying anything about this--except Ron Paul.

There are other reasons I support Congressman Paul's candidacy, but I also realize that there are grave concerns about his positions on a number of other issues, so I'd like to address those now, as well as address how this evangelical can, in good conscience, vote for him and support him publicly:

Isn't Ron Paul "Pro-Choice?" The short answer to this question is "no." As a practicing obstetrician for many decades, Dr. Paul has publicly stated his pro-life views. This is of particular importance to me. I strongly believe respect for all human life is foundational to continued liberty, and therefore have never, and will never vote for any candidate who believes it is permissible to murder a child in the womb. Congressman Paul has also stated his opposition to abortion.

The sticky part of this argument lies in what the Congressman would do legislatively and otherwise related to this issue. Although he is pro-life, he has stated that he would appeal to the 10th ammendment on this issue, meaning that he believes it should be totally within the power of the 50 state governments to regulate and/or outlaw the practice as they see fit. For many of my fellow social conservatives, this doesn't go far enough. As one who favors a human life ammendment to the Constitution, I too believe the Congressman should go much further on this issue. But what many are forgetting is that for Ron Paul's vision of "state regulation" of abortion to be realized, "Roe-v. Wade" would need to be overturned, which is what ALL social conservatives would love to see happen.

Since "Roe" was decided in 1973, the majority of Supreme Court justices appointed have been by "pro-life" Presidents, yet we still have a Court that respects stare decisis more than innocent human life. Knowing his views on Constitutional law, I am convinced that President Paul would not compromise, as other pro-life Presidents have, when it comes to his judicial appointments. In short, I believe Ron Paul would do more do end abortion than the five pro-life Presidents combined who have come before him since the "Roe" decision.

Ron Paul's Foreign Policy views scare me. "Ron Paul wants to dismantle the military." "Ron Paul would leave us wide open to attack." Such rhetoric is stirring, concerning, and TOTALLY untrue.

Though he has been called an "isolationist," Congressman Paul's views are actually those of a "non-interventionist." In short, Paul is a consistent believer in national sovereignty. But he doesn't believe that only the United States is sovereign. He believes ALL nations are sovereign, and that the U.S. has, over the years, intervened in the affairs of other nations that should not have concerned us.

Still, the charge that Paul would leave us open to terrorist attack seems very convincing, at least to those who have never actually looked at his voting record. He voted in favor of authorizing President Bush to use force in Afghanistan after 9/11, in retaliation for the attacks on New York and Washington. Additionally, and contrary to the claims of many on the right, Ron Paul believes in a strong, impenetrable national defense. He believes the job of the military is spelled out in the Constitution, and that job consists of defending our own borders, not policing the world.

There was a time when such was the official doctrine of the Republican party. But 9/11 created a national paranoia that the far-right has exploited over the past decade that led us into a prolonged war in Iraq, a military force that is stretched thin, and a total reversal of a previous belief in "non-intervention" by the so-called "Bush doctrine." Ron Paul wants to see this trend reversed, and so do I. That said, I will say that I'm not in total agreement with the Congressman on this issue. I don't believe a doctrine of non-intervention calls for the closing of every military base we have around the world. Additionally, I believe Paul to be "common sense" enough to adjust his particular views if reality dictates. I'm sure there is something about a new President receiving his first 2 or 3 intelligence briefings that tempers one's ideology. (remember President Obama's promise to shut down Gitmo?)

But I agree with him that in many ways, our intervention has probably caused more problems than it has solved. Those of us opposed to U.S. participation in the United Nations are the first to cry "national sovereignty" when the U.N. presumes to tell Americans what to do. We should offer the same level of respect and understanding to other nations.

Don't you think Ron Paul's view that we should legalize heroin is extreme? Yes I do. However, I agree with Congressman Paul's overall view that the "war on drugs" has solved nothing. I am not pro-drug use. But like prohibition that preceeded it, the war on drugs has done little to stop or even slow down the abuse of illegal (or legal, for that matter) substances in our nation. It has, however, resulted in deficit spending, prisons overcrowded with non-violent offenders and lots and lots of dead police officers. On the more general note, Ron Paul is right: We MUST have a new approach to this issue.

I've heard strong rumors that Ron Paul is anti-semitic. These rumors are blatantly false, to the extent that they are laughable. If "anti-semitic" means you aren't a Zionist, then I suppose you could call Ron Paul anti-semitic, along with the overwhelming majority of non-dispensationalist Christians, and secular Jews around the world. Referring to certain Jews as themselves being "anti-semitic" seems a bit absurd, no?

Unfortunately for those who are trying to push this rumor, the phrase "anti-semitic" has an actual definition. If you believe we should support Israel no matter what--even if they should decide to launch an unprovoked nuclear attack on Turkey--or if you believe the U.S. should continue sending foreign aid to Israel, you will disagree with Ron Paul. That doesn't make Ron Paul anti-semitic.

Contrary to the claims of many, Ron Paul is more pro-Israel than any other Republican nominee, for the simple reason that he doesn't believe Israel should have to ask the permission of the United States before it makes a decision, including a decision to defend itself. His desire to suspend foreign aid to Israel is bundled with his position that U.S. foreign aid worldwide should come to an end. And he is right, by the way. The Israelis are more than capable of defending themselves. Come to think of it, I'd be afraid to pit our Air Force against theirs. Even Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated that Israel does not need the help--or the permission--of the United States to do what it believes is in its own national self-interest.

So there you have it. I want my country to stay free, to be prosperous again, and to return to its Constitutional roots. For these reasons, Congressman Ron Paul gets my vote for President.

For more information, watch this 15 minute interview conducted by CNN's Pierce Morgan:

1 comment:

Marty Duren said...

Nicely done, Joel.