The Universal Notebook: Ron Paul is America's crazy uncle

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As the Republican Party stumbles along on a debate-strewn course toward nominating yet another spoiled rich kid who feels entitled to be president, we have all been treated to the GOP’s carnival sideshow of hopeless hopefuls:

Michele the Madwoman of Minnesota, Herman the Horny Pizza Guy, Tricky Ricky Perry, Rick Sanitarium, and Newt the Transformer.

These mutant politicians make Mitt “Mr. One Percent” Romney look almost like a reasonable man. Not principled, just reasonable.

The Republican candidate who has captured my attention (or horrid fascination), however, is Ron Paul. The little people love the little liberty-loving Libertarian from the Texas Gulf Coast.

That’s because the avuncular Dr. No comes across as America’s crazy uncle, spouting crazy talk about ending wars and legalizing marijuana. He’s the Dennis Kucinich of the Right, a fringe candidate so odd and lovable that those with more ideals than common sense might actually vote for him.

Paul is so far to the right that he almost meets the left coming around the bend. He’s CPAC meets ACLU. Paul is one of these hysterical heralds of doom who squawk all the time about Americans losing liberties and freedoms, but it’s never clear exactly what liberties and freedoms they think we’re losing.

This Libertarian’s big issue seems to be “Obamacare,” in particular the mandate that everyone be required to purchase health insurance. Not sure how requiring people to have health insurance is any different than requiring motorists to have automobile insurance. It’s for the greater public good.

Libertarians, of course, like tea partiers and conservatives in general, do not believe in the public good. They exist in a parallel universe of illusions about individual liberties and delusions of total self-reliance. Paul, for instance, is on record as saying he’d let you die if you needed medical care and couldn’t pay for it.

Libertarians are no friends of the sick, the poor, or the uninsured.

So you might thing Paul would support a woman’s right to decide whether she carries a pregnancy to term, but Dr. No the obstetrician would prefer to decide for her. Worse, he’d let the government decide. And the answer is no.

Libertarians are no friends of women.

And you might think a guy who jabbers on about freedom and liberty would be in favor of civil rights, but you’d be wrong again. Paul and his little boy Rand share the perverse idea that businesses should be free to discriminate against minorities and minorities should be free to eat elsewhere. Paul has a long history of racist and homophobic remarks that he now repudiates.

Libertarians are no friends of minorities.

You might also think that a Libertarian like Paul would decry the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United that, as Mitt Inc. is fond of saying, corporations are people. But Uncle Ron believes that allowing corporate zombies to invest millions in buying American elections somehow helps undermine the government authority he detests (except when it suits him).

And wouldn’t a Libertarian naturally support labor laws that protect the workplace freedoms of working people? Wrong again. They seem to think that businesses should be free to pay $3 an hour for a 60-hour week and workers should be free to look for another job.

Libertarians are no friends of working people.

The most important freedom that Paul defends, however, is the freedom to fail. He opposed bailouts even though they worked. He opposed raising the debt ceiling even though not to do so would have precipitated an international economic crisis. And he’d like to replace Social Security with individual retirement accounts. Invest wisely and you can sit around in old age counting your krugerands with Dr. Paul.

But don’t expect any help from a Libertarian government if your retirement account tanks. The only forms of welfare Paul endorses are family, friends, churches, and private charities. He’s a big fan of President George H.W. Bush’s “thousand points of light,” which in Paul’s case are shining out of the holes in his head.

I will say this for crazy Uncle Ron though, he’s the only man left standing in the GOP race who actually seems to believe what he says – even though it makes no sense at all.

Libertarians are no friends of rationality.

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Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Yarmouth. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

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