Yesterday, December 16, I joined over 100,000 Ron Paul supporters in raising over 6 million dollars, a record for single-day political fundraising.
I have voted since 1972, and this is the first time I have given money to a candidate.
There seems to be two schools of thought among Catholics regarding the Paul candidacy. On the one hand, you have the Catholics for Ron Paul, who portray him as the embodiment of Catholic social doctrine. On the other, some critics say that because he is a libertarian and espouses such things as the decriminalization of drugs and prostitution, a Catholic cannot in good conscience vote for him.
I am of neither of these camps.
First, a couple of the names I recognize on the Catholics for Ron Paul website are noteworthy for holding dissident or revisionist positions on social doctrine, particularly economics. Their insistence that Dr. Paul is "Catholic" on social doctrine is disingenuous, for if he were I doubt they would support him.
In truth, Dr. Paul’s political philosophy is badly flawed in light of Catholic teaching. His is an American individualism that falls far short of the communitarian Catholic vision of the common good.
That said, regardless of the philosophical source of his ideas, many of the practical proposals he makes would serve as a healthy corrective to the excesses of the Leviathan State.
And where he is right–on the war and foreign policy, on abortion, on torture, on the restoration of the historic rights of Americans–he is very right, and uniquely right.
Those who charge that a Catholic cannot in good conscience vote for Dr. Paul because of his support for decriminalizing drugs and prostitution, and because of his libertarianism, are proposing something very strange indeed. I would suggest that by their lofty standard a Catholic could not cast a vote for any American politician of whom I am aware. Political figures who embrace the whole of Catholic social doctrine are practically nonexistent, and the vast majority hold to positions far deadlier than Dr Paul’s. Dr.Paul, for example, is on record as ruling out a first strike with nuclear weapons. Is there another presidential candidate–besides Dennis Kucinich–who could make such a commitment? President Bush openly hinted at nuking Iran, before the intelligence community’s report mercifully derailed his War Express, but I didn’t see any of the anti-Paul commentators denouncing him. And the other Republican candidates–except McCaine and Huckabee–vie to outdo one another in their enthusiasm for torture.
What Dr. Paul proposes–allowing others to choose evil or self-destructive acts–is a far cry from proposing to perform evil (and deadly) acts oneself. And arguably, criminalization of such things–let alone the money-sucking 30 year disaster known as the "War on Drugs"–creates more evils than it destroys.
It is also prudent to remember that while Dr. Paul proposes many radical changes, he is not going to act by presidential fiat, which runs counter to his decentralist political philosophy. He not only wants to deflate the empire, he wants to defrock the emperor. He would have to convince the American people and their representatives to effect change.
With that in mind, Ron Paul is the best we can expect in the current political climate. Indeed, he is so far beyond what many of us had come to expect that it is startling.
But there is another reason to support Dr. Paul for president, and that is the integrity of his character.
The man seems far removed from what we think of when we hear the word "politician." As many of you know, he has never voted for a congressional pay increase, and returns part of his salary each year. He accepts no corporate campaign funds. He has never taken a congressional junket. And he speaks his mind regardless of the audience. I mean, this is the kind of guy who recently announced, in Miami of all places, that it was time to normalize relations with Cuba. He was booed.
Ron Paul is an obstetrician by trade, and has overseen the births of over 4,000 babies. He has delivered the babies of poor women for free.
(My son, Joey, who is 7: "Dad, is Ron Paul really a doctor?"
Me: "Yes, he is an obstetrician; he delivers babies."
Joey: "Where to?")
Dr. Paul was raised on a farm and has been married to the same woman for over 50 years. These two facts alone put him in a different category than most of the candidates.
In short, Dr. Ron Paul seems like the real thing, a representative of the better sort of America, the one that is fading fast.
He has my vote, libertarian warts and all.