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The Statist Attacks on Ron Paul


The most fascinating aspect of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign is how it is revealing the real nature of the battle facing our country. It is not a battle between left and right, as we have all been taught, but rather between libertarianism and statism.

From the first grade on up, we’ve all been inculcated with the notion that there are fundamental philosophical differences between liberals and conservatives. As they’re growing up, people go through all sorts of contortions deciding whether to be a liberal or a conservative and just assume that they are diametrically opposed to each other.

Or course, the mainstream press plays into this charade. When a liberal marries a conservative, the media exclaims, “Oh, my gosh, they’re going to be arguing with each other all the time.”

But as we are now seeing with the attacks on Ron Paul, there is no fundamental disagreement between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans. The attacks that conservatives are making on Ron Paul are ones that could be wholeheartedly embraced by liberals, and vice versa.

Ron Paul’s campaign is exposing a decades-long charade. Or to be more precise, his libertarian positions are showing the American people the statism to which both conservatives and liberals have become committed over the decades.

The fact is that conservatives and liberals have become the premier exponents of statism in America. Sure, there are variations among them, especially with their multitudinous reform plans. But at the core, they are fundamentally in agreement with each other.

Philosophically, both liberals and conservatives believe it is a legitimate role of government to take money from people through the taxing process and dole it out to other people. That’s the essence of socialism.

Thus, when conservatives love to call President Obama a socialist, they also want to play the pretend game, pretending that they, on the other hand, are “free enterprise.”


If that’s the case, then why do conservatives ardently support such socialist programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, corporate bailouts, and foreign aid to dictators? Sure, they might call for repealing Obamacare, but have you ever heard them call for ending Medicare and Medicaid?

It’s because conservatives are socialists, just like Obama is. They have been for decades.

Conservatives have just been living the life of the lie, repeating ad infinitum, ad nauseam their favorite mantra, “free enterprise, private property, and limited government.” They’ve been pretending, to their children, to liberals, and to themselves, that they oppose socialism and favor free enterprise, even while supporting the fundamental precepts of the welfare state, which is founded on socialist principles.

By and large, they’ve gotten away with it. But along came libertarians, who exposed the life of the lie that conservatives were living by opposing all those socialist programs, including Social Security. That scared the dickens out of conservatives. Those darned libertarians were really and truly committed to the principles of free markets, private property, and limited government. And they were calling out conservatives for their support of statism. How dare them?

What to do? One strategy was to ignore the libertarians. Another was to block them from the political process with ballot barriers, such as petitioning requirements and campaign contribution limits. Another was to marginalize them by referring to them as fringe.

But as the old adage holds, truth will out. For the past several decades, libertarians just keep advancing libertarian principles and opposing the statism of both conservatives and liberals. We just kept speaking our truth and spreading the word.

Consider the drug war, a war that has long been embraced by both conservatives and liberals. Not surprisingly, they’re now both attacking Ron Paul and libertarians for wanting to end this immoral, failed, and destructive war.

How do conservatives reconcile their support of the drug war with their purported support of “free enterprise, private property, and limited government” and their purported opposition to paternalism? They can’t, and they know it. Under genuine principles of freedom and free markets, people have the right to ingest any substance they want and to buy, sell, and possess anything they want.

How do conservatives justify their support of the drug war? In the same way that liberals justify their failed, decades-old war on poverty — by exclaiming, “Please judge us by our good intentions, not by the actual consequences of our policies.”

Look at liberals. They say they oppose racism and favor civil liberties. How do they reconcile that position with their decades-long support of the drug war? They can’t, and they know it. The drug war is most racist government program since segregation, and it has provided the excuse for the most massive infringement on civil liberties, until the war on terrorism came along, another war embraced by both liberals and conservatives.

Look at foreign policy. Both liberals and conservatives now embrace the role of the U.S. government as a worldwide military empire and the concept of foreign interventionism. They’re both furious that people are gravitating to a libertarian political campaign, one that opposes wars of aggression, undeclared wars, invasions, occupations, sanctions, embargoes, assassination, torture, military detention, indefinite detention, kangaroo tribunals, and all the other things that are normally associated with totalitarian regimes.

Consider the monetary system. Both liberals and conservatives remain deeply committed to a system based on irredeemable paper money and a Federal Reserve System that is nothing more than a system of socialist central planning in the monetary sphere. It is only libertarians who advocate sound money and a free-market monetary system. That scares statists to death, especially given that would mean the end of out-of-control federal spending, debt, and inflation.

Ron Paul’s campaign is showing what we libertarians have said for years: There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between liberals and conservatives. They are both statist to the core. They are statist when it comes to foreign policy. They are statist when it comes to domestic policy.

The battle between liberals and conservatives is over control. Who is going to get to control the levers of power of the welfare-warfare state? Who’s going to get the appointments? Who’s going to get the money?

The reason that libertarians are such a threat to these people is that we’re committed to dismantling the welfare-warfare state that they fighting to control.

The good news is that a growing number of Americans are obviously discovering the truth. You see genuine liberals gravitating to Paul’s campaign because they place a high value on civil liberties and a foreign policy based on trade, friendship, and diplomacy rather than one based on militarism, empire, and interventionism. Some of them are even discovering that liberalism was once based on the principles of free enterprise rather than the principles of socialism.

By the same token, you see conservatives gravitating to Paul’s campaign because they place a high value on economic liberty rather than on socialism. Some of them are even discovering that conservatism was once based on a foreign policy of trade, friendship, and diplomacy rather than one based on militarism, empire, and interventionism.

And you also see independent-minded voters gravitating toward libertarianism, people who are discovering that America’s woes are rooted in statism and that the solution lies in libertarianism — in freedom, free markets, and a limited-government constitutional republic.

The Ron Paul phenomenon obviously has statists scared to death. “We can’t afford to ignore the libertarians any longer. We’re losing too many people from the statist cause,” they’re thinking to themselves. “We’ve got to go on the attack, at once.”

And their attacks, in principle, are the same, whether written by a liberal or a conservative. At their core, they constitute a fundamental defense of statism and a desperate attack on freedom.

What’s exciting is that as the attacks on Ron Paul increase, more and more people are discovering and becoming attracted to libertarianism.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.