The 2008 election season is coming really fast. With the republican primary here in South Carolina coming on January 19 it is becoming really important to decide who you will vote for. I want to recommend that everyone look carefully at Ron Paul. Read through the issues on his site. He is pro-gun, pro-life, and pro-constitution. He has a very clear understanding of how the constitution is the foundation of our federal form of government. Powers that were not given to congress should be left to the states. If you want lower taxes and a more responsible government vote for Ron Paul. Some will say he “can’t win” but they are making themselves part of the reason. Vote on principle not fear.
The reasons you gave are also great reasons for supporting Fred Thompson. He’s strong on gun control, strong on life, and a strong federalist (he even uses the word — it’s central to his campaign). You’ll also like his positions (just published) on illegal immigration: a strong focus on enforcing current legislation and punishing states/localities/businesses who enable illegal immigration.
I know you’re not going to switch over right now, but keep Thompson in mind in case Paul doesn’t work out.
I still like Mike Huckabee. He has similar views and appears to be a solid Christian to boot. I met him a few months ago and was quite impressed by his demeanor and character.
I also met several other candidates and was not nearly impressed. Paul and Thompson had not entered at the time. Romney was OK, but the rest were annoying.
I’ll look into Paul, you check out Huckabee.
I have a hard time agreeing that Fred Thompson is strong in the areas you mention. Though he may use the word “federalist,” it doesn’t mean that he knows what it actually means. We have to listen to the founding fathers’ advice concerning the role of the federal government and decide if Thompson’s vision is the same. I would say, it’s not. I haven’t ever heard him hail back to the intention of our country’s founders. Ron Paul does all the time.
As for being strong on pro-life, it has been shown that in fact he has been quite weak. He may use strong language now, but his record over the years has not put that into practice. At one point, in fact, he lobbied for a pro-choice family planning group. His stand on gun ownership, again, includes strong rhetoric, but his actual record in Senate is less than stellar, at least according to Gun Owners of America.
Of course, a person can change positions, but a history of changing makes voters like me wonder how sincerely he holds them. Or is he doing so from political convenience? I agree with Joseph that Ron Paul deserves our vote for many reasons, including the fact that he has been consistent in the positions he has held for many years.
I think that the only argument against Thompson’s life record is his private work at a firm. In exchange for capital, his firm gave a service. If I owned a store, I would let Planned Parenthood shop there. In fact, I would let them open a corporate account (if I had such a thing). Some people in good conscience would not. I respect that. And I also understand that lobbying for money is different from selling cereal goods (for example) for money. But it’s in the realm of a prudential judgment, not policy position. (A parallel case is acting as an attorney to a criminal. If you tell the truth, there’s no sin in it. Criminals have the right to legal representation, and defending a criminal on legal grounds is different from personally advocating for his crime.)
I don’t know anything about Thompson’s actual gun voting record, and it sounds like Joe (above) doesn’t either. (I don’t mean that insultingly — just a reference to your acknowledgment of ignorance.) It’s possible that pro-gun legislation was packaged with other items that Thompson opposed. It’s possible that Gun Owners of America supported irresponsible bills that would make gun ownership by criminals easier. I don’t know. But I wouldn’t go with a special-interest group’s rating on any issue, including pro-life voting records.
As for the Federalist argument, I can’t say much except that a Federalist now has to be different from a Federalist at our founding. Our government has changed in important ways, and so modern federalism has to be realistic about this. I wish States retained more sovereignty than they do. We fought a war over that, and the group that supported states’ rights (as envisioned by our founders, I think) lost the war. We can’t turn back the clock. As far as I can tell, Thompson’s federalism is principled and realistic. I think his positions would be in line with those of an organization like the Federalist Society.
Anyway, I haven’t decided yet how to vote, but I’m leaning Thompson. Thanks for the interaction here.
I do have to say that your “It’s possible that Gun Owners of America supported irresponsible bills that would make gun ownership by criminals easier” sounds a lot like standard anti-gun rhetoric. The difference in my understanding is that Gun Owners of America is separate and more conservative than the NRA in that they don’t compromise. The NRA does sompromise. Convicted felons can’t own guns currently and this has been the law for a long time. Restricting or making more difficult the ownership of guns by anyone else is a loose reading of the constitution. When the left says they are doing this to keep the guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens they are just talking to sound good. They want full control and the government can’t get to that point as long as there is an armed citizenry (what the founders intended).
Speaking of Fred Thompson and federalism I found this interesting article that also relates to his position on abortion. Interesting to see the writers thinking too. http://romancatholicblog.typepad.com/roman_catholic_blog/2007/05/new_concerns_a_.html
One more thing for now. Whether we think federalism now is different from federalism in the past doesn’t seem to be the issue or whether the south lost the war. The larger point involved is who is going to follow the constitution. We for too long have had all kinds of variations on following the constitution when it is in line with our already determined principles. The constitution as original has been amended and is now different. There seems to be great debate whether some of the Supreme Courts’ interpretations have to continue to stand (they can be overturned, can’t they?). We are also a different country now than we were in the 1860s and the federalism that failed then isn’t the same as before or after (including now). Larger issues abound today and one of those have to be where is the government governing from? Without knowing that we will have no idea what he may do when he “needs” to compromise.
Josh, I’m going to go out on a limb. I don’t know you, but from several mutual friends and acquaintances I know you a pretty smart guy. So I am going to venture to say that you aren’t fully behind your defense of Fred Thompson, given the weakness of your arguments. (I don’t mean that as a pot shot. I’m just noticing things like your first claiming that he is “strong on gun control” and then later admitting that you “don’t know anything about Thompson’s actual gun voting record.” And I’m not sure you would say that your comments about his lobbying and federalism–oh yeah, and the Civil War–are exactly the strongest reasoning you’re capable of.) And so I want to take the discussion in a different direction. I have seen this many times where evangelical Christians contrive defenses for, shall I say, “less than ideal” candidates. I suspect that if you look closely at Fred Thompson, you would have to wink a few times at opinions he holds or issues in his personal live and background. But you are willing to do so because he’s generally a good man; he’s “electable”; and he’s certainly not like Giuliani.
I’m guessing that a few deeper issues are at play here, and they have to do with your worldview. (Call it what you will: philosophy, theology, network of presuppositions, etc. I think you know what I mean.) Fred Thompson is a safe candidate to support because he doesn’t hold any “radical” positions. He acts basically within the current assumptions about the role of civil government, particularly in Washington. He isn’t promoting anything that would be considered out of the mainstream. And this plays out in the fact that he has the dubious distinction, granted by the mainstream media, of being a “top-tier” candidate. Thus, by supporting him, we as Christians wouldn’t be too idealistic. We are realistic. Because ultimately, where is this world heading, after all? I mean, even if the best man imaginable were to become president and the Congress was entirely behind him, will it do any good? My guess is that you don’t have real high hopes for this world or for the USA.
While I certainly agree that this world is not going to be improved through political means (or war, for that matter), I do believe that the world will be improved. I believe that in time and history before the coming of Jesus that we have hope for progress. Sure, this is a question of theology and eschatology, but I wonder something. If this world won’t become a better place, despite our best efforts, then why do Christians still have a pragmatic approach to voting? Why are conservative Christians willing to be marginalized, mocked and considered irrelevant in everything, except when it comes to politics? Why does a more pragmatic approach become more desirable? Surely, we aren’t afraid that we might actually accomplish something!
Along similar lines, I also suspect that you hardly have considered Ron Paul because you don’t give him any chance of winning. You don’t deem him “electable.” Voting for him would be throwing away a vote. We need to vote with our eye on the polls; otherwise we take away a vote from the lesser of two evils. But where does that come from? If our efforts in this world won’t make a lasting change anyway, what do we care if Hillary becomes president? At the very least, wouldn’t that indicate that the coming of Christ is that much closer? Would it be a sign of how bad this world really is? I’m just wondering, why even bother strategizing on the basis of “electability” or other pragmatic ideas? I think that if Christians didn’t buy into these ideas and actually evaluated a presidential candidate based on his ideas, philosophy, words, and record, a candidate like Ron Paul would gain a lot of votes.
Actually, I do still think Ron Paul has a chance, but that’s a different discussion.
Or am I making too many assumptions about you?
An interesting article by Gary North on LewRockwell.com probably applies to what jhyink is saying. Not that I would say everyone within fundamentalism fits into every complaint he has. But apart from that it probably hits the point well.
Thanks, Joe and Joseph, for engaging with me on this subject. Today’s will have to be my last post, I’m afraid.
Joseph, questions about Thompson’s record on abortion are inferences and insinuations. When it comes to policy choices, Thompson has chosen life, and it seems to be a matter of principle with him, not political expedience (contra, perhaps, McCain and Romney). As for his secondary role in a lobbying job for Planned Parenthood, I simply maintain my position that this was a prudential choice, and I believe that it has little relevance to his reliability as a pro-life candidate. I think we may disagree on this, though, especially on the matter of prudential vs. moral decision. (Planned Parenthood’s strong objection to his candidacy should tell us something, though I concede that it doesn’t clinch the matter.)
And now, Joe. First, I was wrong to make an assertion about Thompson’s gun control record. Personally, I feel that he’s probably closer to where I stand than to where you and Joseph do — maybe even a little MORE pro-gun than I am. We’ll have to disagree on our gun positions. I at least agree with Joseph (personal email) that it is not the federal government’s role to regulate guns, at least in situations that aren’t clearly matters of (1) national security or (2) interstate commerce. I believe that Thompson’s federalism (which I maintain is strong and long-standing) would guide him to generally correct positions on gun legislation.
Second, I hope my personal weaknesses as an advocate won’t be seen as mere “contriving” of arguments for something I don’t believe. If I over-reach, it’s a failure of careful thought or research, not an attempt to justify a pragmatic, ad-hoc position. My political positions are sincerely held, and my support of Thompson is based on my belief that he’s the best candidate for the policies I believe in.
(Incidentally, when I first posted, I hadn’t decided for Thompson, though I was leaning in that direction. As of today, I’m personally supporting a Thompson nomination. I like his policies.)
Third, I don’t object to Ron Paul because his positions are radical. I actually sincerely believe that some of them are wrong. I like modest foreign policy, but I don’t like isolationism. I don’t think you’ll be able to talk me out of that, and I doubt I can talk you out of your position on foreign policy, either. If that’s the case, we’ll have to support different candidates. (I also think immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be not only injudicious but immoral. Nations are accountable for their choices, even their bad ones, made by past leaders. Immediate withdrawal would be copping out on our responsibility for a situation we helped create. I don’t like the war, but we’re committed right now to making the best of it.)
I also think that Paul overplays America’s loss of sovereignty. Two things: (a) the fact that Paul COULD withdraw us from international organization means that we still retain sovereignty. It would be impossible for, say, South Carolina to withdraw from the United States — SC has no sovereignty. (b) Bush has repeatedly refused to be part of international treaties and agreements; the U.S. has a choice.
So I think that at least on foreign policy matters, I couldn’t support Paul. On other issues, I might like Paul marginally better than other candidates. But there is no central issue on which I prefer Paul’s position to the other candidates’ (at least where I know the positions).
Fourth, I don’t have any (necessary) principled or theological objections to the idea that the world will increasingly and visibly submit to the Lordship of Jesus before the End. However, I don’t see that as a significant issue for American politics. Here’s why:
Supposing the world does necessarily improve in this way. (a) Parts of the world (including America) may not participate in this trend; there’s no theological necessity that America as America will ever submit to the Lordship of Jesus. (b) Large periods of history may run counter to the large-scale trend. It’s possible that the 21st century will be one of increasing apostasy, but the 38th century will bring world-wide revival, and by the 50th century, the world will be spiritually, politically, culturally Christian.
But even supposing that America will participate, in this age. I don’t believe that Ron Paul’s policies are those necessary to submission to the Lordship of Jesus. Some policies are (arguably) neutral (i.e., prudential), and even policies that are clearly moral don’t always have a clearly Christian answer.
Fifth, I don’t object to voting one’s conscience. Ron Paul is not a conscience candidate for me.
Sixth, I do object to Ron Paul’s poising himself to run as a Third Party candidate. He’s either a Republican or not. If he wants the Republican nomination, he should fight for it, and then if he looses, he should step out of the race. If he plans to run no matter what, he has no business trying to get the Republican nomination. It would be a show of bad faith.
Seventh, because electability has been brought up, I won’t hide the fact that I genuinely believe that Paul is unelectable. (And I’m glad, because I don’t like his policies.) His current base of support is very noisy, very active on the web, and very active in straw polls. But he can’t reliably depend on the anti-war vote, because a lot of those people care about other things too, like social programs. He can’t rely on the mainstream Republican vote, because he’s alienated too many Republicans. (He actually got booed by a large crowd of Republicans in Florida. Most Republicans aren’t choosing other candidates because they think Paul can’t win. They’re choosing other candidates because they don’t like Paul’s policies.)
But as we both acknowledge, electability is an academic point — at least until someone is actually elected. I’ll support Thompson right now even though his campaigning is weak and he’s lost a lot of support that he might have otherwise had if he’d started strong. If Thompson drops out of the race, I’ll move my support to another candidate that I think will make a good President.
(Two addenda after glancing back over Joe’s response to me: (1) I did consider Ron Paul, pretty seriously. And I liked him initially. As I’ve read and heard more, I’ve decided that I don’t like all of his positions. (2) All politics is pragmatic, if by pragmatic, you mean subject to necessary compromise. Governments like ours can govern only by the consent of the governed. Right now we can give our consent only in conjunction with other people — people with whom we only partially agree. However, if I support Paul, I would be compromising more than I do if I support Thompson. It’s possible that you 100% support Paul’s policies and positions. If so, I congratulate you on achieving something very few voters do — finding the perfect candidate. If not, then I would maintain that you, too, have prioritized your convictions and preferences.)
Ron Paul is not an isolationist. Trying to make sure we have a constitutional and legitimate foreign policy is not isolationist. Not wanting to have a perpetual military presence in 130 countries is not isolationist. We don’t need to be the enforcers of the world and that does not make me isolationist.
Read this article on Iraq too see a hint at the fact that there is more involved here than whether Iraq is working or not. Read this on the whole reaction to 9/11 issue.
The problem is that there are much greater issues here. They are all constitutional issues and will ultimately determine the fate of our nation. What is our position in the world and how does that relate to what the constitution says. If we do something “good” but the constitution says it is “illegal” do we care? If congress, the supreme court, or the president disregards the constitution do we care?
Josh, you mention abortion and Fred Thompson in relation to the article I posted above. My point was how that abortion relates to the federal issue. The problem with Roe v. Wade beyond the fact that abortion is immoral is that the Supreme Court decided they had the right to overturn state law. I found it interesting that in that blog the problem the person had was that they felt Fred Thompson would leave it up to the states. My understanding is that is where it was before Roe v. Wade. I don’t have a problem with a federalist argument on such issues.
Also, I haven’t read anything serious about Ron Paul going third party if he doesn’t get the nomination. He is a republican now and has been so he has every right to run for the republican ticket. Have you seen something legit somewhere about this?
Then, why exactly would it be bad faith? Because the constitution says we have a two party system? Has he said he won’t? I can understand why you would be annoyed (I may even be depending on who are the two nominees) but I don’t see a ethical or moral problem. Messing up the system seems to indicate we have a bad system (or we understand the system badly). I don’t see how following the rules is a problem. We seem to have a ton of republicans that are not conservative (or don’t really know what that may mean) which is a larger problem.
Ron Paul has explicitly said that he does not intend to run under a third party. It seems that he learned his lesson last time he tried it. The system is geared so much to a two-party system that it’s pretty much pointless to try to run under a third.
Curious. On what basis did Josh consider Ron Paul’s foreign policy “isolationism?” I know that’s the mainstream media’s caricature of his positions, but Paul has dealt with that and clarified over and over again, painstakingly trying distinguish his position from what is traditionally called “isolationism.” He describes his position as “non-interventionism.” Either Paul’s lying, delusional, or just doesn’t understand the issues. Maybe he’s equivocating. Or maybe people aren’t listening carefully enough to exactly what he’s saying.
An eschatological position is not just an opinion about the future. It does more than just help one predict the future. It informs one’s hope (or lack thereof) concerning the time in which one lives currently and that for generations to come. Thus, regardless of how everything does eventually pan out in the end, one’s opinion on such matters has great relevance to one’s political opinions. (Incidentally, I held many of the political positions, including that of foreign policy, I hold today long before I ever heard of Ron Paul.)
My response is that of surprise more than anything else that Josh supports Thompson so enthusiastically. Then again, we don’t know each other at all.