The phrase “Trojan Horse” assumes new meaning in American politics as primary candidates – particularly Republicans – duke it out for a chance to contend for the presidency in 2008.
One candidate in particular professes to sneak under the metaphorical radar hounding so many Republicans these days – pro-war sentiments, blatant religiousness and waffling on immigration and fiscal responsibility – and gain popularity by being an anti-war proponent of constitutional freedom.
Though Ron Paul – one-time Libertarian candidate for president – may be a godsend to political consultants trying to salvage a disenchanted Republican base and court independents, he is not all he’s cracked up to be in terms of advocating freedom.
Sure, there are some aspects of his voting record that make me gush with “well, maybe he really is a small-government kind of guy” nostalgia. He never voted for a tax increase or an increase in congressional pay, for example. But his common refrain of “states’ rights” only shifts rights violations from the federal level to the local level.
An interview with Paul at Valleyadvocate.com, the Web site of an Amherst, Mass. weekly newspaper, sums up this ‘it’s okay so long as the federal government doesn’t do it’ mentality – specifically in the context of abortion.
Paul, who maintains that abortion is not a constitutional issue and thus should be decided by the states, said, “Murder is illegal all over the country, with variations across the states regarding manslaughter versus murder and its degrees. Similarly, abortion should be decided at the state level.”
I’m not even going to address his not-so-subtle implication that abortion is murder. That soapbox, however tempting, is not important. What is important is that the relegation of the issue to the state level will allow undeniable rights to be compromised.
Even the most hardened right-to-life advocates can’t argue with a straight face that the prohibition of abortion in cases of rape and incest is anything other than tyranny.
Yet, left to the states, there is no guarantee that a victimized woman will be able to attend to her needs as she chooses, ultimately sacrificing her – an actual human being – to a fetus. Said danger is neither rhetoric nor hyperbole. The proof that states can and will violate rights is the abortion ban signed in South Dakota in March 2006 that made no exception for rape or incest. Although this law was overturned by voters in November 2006 and rejected by a South Dakota Senate committee in 2007, the fact remains that it is still a governmental body deciding the issues rather than the individual woman, and is hence wrong. Paul’s approach does not rectify that wrong, but blithely approves of it so long as it is not done on the federal level.
Also, it’s not entirely honest to say that Paul doesn’t advocate federal action on abortion. On his own Web site, he proudly writes about his drafting and sponsorship of two federal bills specifically dealing with Right to Life issues. “I have authored legislation that seeks to define life as beginning at conception,” Paul writes of HR 1094.
Regarding the second bill, Paul states: “I am also the prime sponsor of HR 300, which would negate the effect of Roe v. Wade by removing the ability of federal courts to interfere with state legislation to protect life. This is a practical, direct approach to ending federal court tyranny, which threatens our constitutional republic and has caused the deaths of 45 million of the unborn.”
Somewhere in there, it seems that expedience got the best of Paul, allowing him to neglect the sketchy constitutionality of using congressional mandate to regulate the courts. You know, that whole checks and balances thing.
There are many things about Ron Paul that make him an appealing candidate, such as his advocacy of a metallic monetary standard and calls to end social entitlement. Sadly, though, his advocacy of state rights is bound to foster subjectivism in the context of rights protection. Although there are many administrative and protective roles states and cities perform more efficiently than the federal behemoth, the American people do not need 50 different conceptions of their freedoms and limitations. This seems to be called for only if rights are merely legal, rather than inalienable, as they should be.
Victoria Bekiempis is a junior majoring in history and French.