An exchange on Ron Paul

TWW writes:

Howard Sutherland writes:

“Ron Paul was willing to participate in the disgraceful Univision quasi-Spanish debate; for him the big issues are libertarian and economic. Paul thinks America, properly understood, is a free-market society that is faithful to a blueprint, the Constitution, that can apply to anyone. Accordingly, he appears unworried about America’s having an alternative political marketplace running in a foreign language.”

I wonder whether Mr. Sutherland has bothered to read any of Ron Paul’s actual writings on the subject, before making such a sweeping generalization (smear). Instructive for Mr. Sutherland would be to examine the articles written, statements made, and legislation proposed by Paul. For instance, he may be shocked to learn that Paul has introduced legislation to amend the Constitution and end automatic birthright citizenship or that he has written several articles discussing the same (see the Ron Paul file). That certainly doesn’t sound to me like someone who thinks America is a “free-market society that can apply to anyone.” Here is one such example of an article, discussing an end to birthright citizenship in which the first sentence states (emphasis added):

“A recent article in the Houston Chronicle discusses the problem of so-called anchor babies, children born in U.S. hospitals to illegal immigrant parents. These children automatically become citizens, and thus serve as an anchor for their parents to remain in the country. Our immigration authorities understandably are reluctant to break up families by deporting parents of young babies. But birthright citizenship, originating in the 14th amendment, has become a serious cultural and economic dilemma for our nation.”

Here is more from Paul discussing the amnesty plan (emphasis added):

“Financial considerations aside, we cannot continue to ignore the cultural aspects of immigration. The vast majority of Americans welcome immigrants who want to come here, work hard, and build a better life. This is a basic human desire that Americans understand, especially when so many immigrants are born into hopeless poverty in their own nations. But we rightfully expect immigrants to show a sincere desire to become American citizens, speak English, and assimilate themselves culturally. More importantly, we expect immigrants to respect our political and legal traditions, which are rooted in liberty and constitutionally limited government. After all, a lack of respect for the rule of law causes much of the poverty around the world that immigrants seek to escape.

“Problems arise when immigrants refuse to assimilate and show little interest in becoming American citizens. 100 years ago, immigrants arrived in America after dangerous journeys fully prepared to embrace their new country. In most cases, returning home was not an option. Most led very hard lives, took pride in American citizenship, and asked for nothing but the opportunity to work. Today, however, some immigrants travel between countries frequently, enjoying the benefits of America but showing no desire to become Americans. Some even display hostility toward America and our ideals, joining the chorus of voices demanding that the United States become a multicultural society that rejects our own history. It is this cultural conflict that soon must be addressed, and the president’s amnesty proposal simply turns a blind eye to the problem.”

So in Paul’s view, birthright citizenship can result in serious cultural dillemas for our nation and financial considerations aside, we cannot continue to ignore the cultural aspects of immigration, and yet, in Mr. Sutherland’s view Paul is “unworried about America’s having an alternative political marketplace running in a foreign language.”

The truth is that Paul is far and away the best candidate for traditionalists, Christians, constitutionalists, and any other liberty-minded group based, not on his perceived views, but based on his actual views, which he writes and talks about constantly. I would invite any other readers of VFR who view Paul as somehow “far too close to propositionalism for comfort” to investigate his actual positions, which include, for example:

- ending perpetual war, particularly the Iraq War
- closing the borders
- amending the 14th amendment to end birthright citizenship
- removing federal agencies, bureaucracies and regulation
- eliminating the Fed and IRS
- removing gun control laws

There are many other strong positions that he holds as well, which would appeal to traditionalists. While as a practical matter, these actions cannot be implemented in the near term (which Paul acknowledges), it would be nice to know that the president would veto anything that was at odds the constitution ( i.e., everything). Thus, I encourage Mr. Sutherland to take another look at Paul in view of his strong positions for a soverign and free United States.

Howard Sutherland replies:

TWW makes good points, but we have to look at a candidate’s actions as well as his posted positions. I said the lesson I learned about Ron Paul from the Univision debate was depressing for me, and I meant it. I have read Rep. Paul’s campaign positions, I have read his Rockwell commentaries, and I have generally been an admirer of his. Before Paul agreed to participate in the Univision debate, I was undecided between him and Tancredo because I thought Tancredo was stronger on immigration, the immediate problem, while Paul was much stronger on questions of federalism. I’m undecided no longer.

Ron Paul’s view of America is rooted in an understanding of the U.S. Constitution and how it restricts (or was intended to) federal consolidation of power and government intrusion into matters that are properly for the people and the states. So far, so good. My worry about Rep. Paul, and both his participation and his performance in the Univision debate only heighten my concern, is that he—despite his occasional acknowledgments of a cultural dimension—sees America’s governmental structure and distinctiveness as grounded in a political framework, rather than in the cultural distinctiveness of the people who created and, to a large extent, still are America.

As far as I can tell, Paul wants to control the borders because the Constitution charges the president with protecting the states from invasion and securing to each a republican form of government. Again, so far, so good. But he doesn’t seem very concerned about the culturally and socially transformational nature of mass immigration, legal and illegal. I think, perhaps consistent with a libertarian outlook, he favors legal immigration in principle. Well, I don’t, and certainly I don’t when it threatens to overwhelm and submerge the character of the original country.

When, interviewing Paul in New Hampshire, Peter Brimelow asked him about legal immigration, Paul had this to say:

What is your view on legal immigration?

I think it depends on our economy. If we have a healthy economy, I think we could be very generous on work programs. People come in, fulfill their role and go back home.

I’m not worried about legal immigration. I think we would even have more if we had a healthy economy.

But in the meantime, we want to stop the illegals. And that’s why I don’t think our border guards should be sent to Iraq, like we’ve done. I think we need more border guards. But to have the money and the personnel, we have to bring our troops home from Iraq.

I wholeheartedly agree with Paul’s third statement, but I strongly disagree with the first and second, which to my mind reflect a view of America (and perhaps any country) as just a big market that should happily welcome as many workers, whoever they are and wherever they come from, as there are jobs to fill. It’s a point of view that is inconsistent with a cultural defense of America (or, again, of any country). While the illegal alien flood is indeed a cultural threat, massive legal immigration of diverse people it is very nearly impossible to remove is an even greater cultural threat. On the cultural front, Paul making the fallacious but popular distinction between illegal aliens (considered a problem) and immigrants (generally considered a blessing).

Then there is the Univision debate. Simply by agreeing to participate, Paul dignified—and surrendered to—the increasing balkanizing of America. Worse, he knuckled under to the very group with the greatest potential to balkanize America beyond repair and—I offer Jorge Ramos, Mexican talking head allowed to moderate a debate of American presidential candidates as Exhibit A—that is actively working to fragment America ethnically and deliberately weaken the historic majority population of the country. The post-America Jorge Ramos agitates for might be an interesting place, it might even be “vibrant,” but it won’t be America anymore. Paul’s participation in this inherently balkanizing debate shows a very troubling blind spot about this, to put it politely.

And then there is what Rep. Paul said in the Univision debate. At one point, perhaps trying to be polite to the Hispanics, he seemed to imply that English-speaking Americans are somehow inferior to those who are bilingual, and resent the bilinguals (immigrants, presumably) because of that sense of inferiority. I don’t take that personally as I do speak Spanish, but why such an uncalled-for concession to ungrateful and importunate foreigners? Again, this is inconsistent with a strong cultural defense of America as a real country, rather than a marketplace with a republican form of government. At another point, Paul expressed the hope that Hispanics might help restore the Constitution. To my mind, that shows a view of America that is legalistic and grounded in documents rather than in real people and their heritage. (I concede the Constitution is a big part of America’s heritage, but it reflects the culture and history of those who wrote it, not a one of whom was from Latin America.) Also, if Rep. Paul thinks Hispanics are going to do anything to restore the U.S. Constitution to what he thinks is its proper place, he must know very little about the history and political culture of Latin American countries, especially Mexico, to say nothing of the political preferences of Hispanics in the United States.

TWW specifically mentions Paul’s sponsoring legislation to end the unconstitutional travesty of birthright citizenship. Paul has been one of a very few Congressmen, in either House and from any party, who takes this flagrant erosion of American citizenship seriously. Over the years, that has been one of the things I have most admired about him. In the context of statements and actions of Paul’s on the campaign trail, though, I have to wonder if his concern about birthright citizenship doesn’t derive from his reverence for the Constitution and desire to see it applied correctly, rather than from concern that birthright citizenship dilutes Americans’ citizenship and transforms their country’s character by willy-nilly making millions of inassimilable foreigners their fellow “citizens.” If those inassimilable foreigners only get in legally somehow, my impression is that Ron Paul has no problem with extending citizenship to them. Well, again, I do.

So, while I share TWW’s admiration of much of what is in the Paul platform, I can’t forget that Paul was willing to get on Univision’s platform. With regret, I believe he is unreliable on the National Question, which for me today trumps all others (with the exception of abortion, which I keep on the same plane). HRS

TWW replies:
HRS is correct with respect to what would ultimately be the best position to take on the immigration front (i.e., stop it completely), with which I believe many readers of VFR would agree. However, I believe we (traditionalists) must not lose the forest for the trees. By participating in the Univision debate, Paul may have revealed “a point of view that is inconsistent with a cultural defense of America ” but in light of his many principled positions and outstanding voting record, do we really want to cast him aside in order to get something much worse? That is, even in the worst case scenario, Paul would shut the borders down, but continue legal immigration. Isn’t that a better position than every other viable Republican candidate? The others are all open border fanatics, despite their rhetoric, as LA has pointed out time and time again.

Further, HRS writes “[w]ith regret, I believe he is unreliable on the National Question, which for me today trumps all others (with the exception of abortion, which I keep on the same plane).” If abortion is indeed on the same plane, then some deference must be afforded Dr. Paul (an obstetrician) in light of his rock solid anti-abortion stance that he has not been bashful about enunciating. For instance, in discussing the politics of pro-life, he writes:

“My own pro-life views were strengthened by my experiences as an obstetrician. I believe beyond a doubt that a fetus is a human life deserving of legal protection, and that the right to life is the foundation of any moral society. The abortion issue forged my belief that law and morality must intersect to protect the most vulnerable among us. The proper role of government, namely the protection of natural and constitutional rights, flows from the pro-life perspective.”

I have followed Ron Paul for many years and never got the sense that he would do anything but defend the culture and tradition of the United States. I am convinced that if provided the relevant statistics/arguments for an end to legal immigration (in some capacity), or even deportation for criminals, those here illegally, and the like, that he would make a well-reasoned and moral decision based on what is best for the country. This is something that none of the other candidates can offer in my opinion.

Stephen T. writes:

Conspicuously absent from TWW’s comprehensive description of Paul’s views on immigration is any mention of employer sanctions against those who hire illegal aliens (the whole reason they come here in the first place.) All the border control in the world can do nothing more than prevent the next 20 million Mexicans from arriving. It will not have any effect on those who are already here. That function must belong to measures which deny them the ability to work. I never see any mention—pro or con—of employer sanctions from Ron Paul supporters. I don’t think that’s an accidental omission: I have read a quote from one of his advisers stating that Paul does NOT believe that prohibiting private employers from hiring anyone they want to hire, regardless of immigration status, is a legitimate function of government. If so, his entire anti-illegal immigration plan is pretty lame. There will be nothing whatsoever to cause the 20 million already here to “self deport.” They will continue to gain financially, send wealth out of the country, give birth to Spanish-speaking American citizens with a Mexican agenda, and gain political power to lobby for amnesty. Also, even in the presence of powerful border control, the magnet of guaranteed jobs from employers still allowed to hire illegals will make it inevitable that more will try to enter.

Maybe you can get TWW, who seems to be so well-versed in Paul’s views, to address the specific issue of employer sanctions, and even provide some direct quotes from Paul? Let’s clear this up.

Howard Sutherland to LA:
Thank you for posting. I scrolled down looking for LA’s last word on the debate, but you let this exchange stand alone, I guess. HRS

LA replies:

I’ve never liked Paul, I always associated him with the Lew Rockwell types, and many things I’ve heard him say, cheap shots about the war, for example, have put me off, so I tended to dismiss him. But I don’t know enough about him to have a definite opinion of him.

HRS replies:

I am saddened by Paul. He is solid on so many things, and he is a real federalist who believes the Constitution means what it says, with scrupulous respect both for states’ rights and the separation of powers. But he has revealed a fatal blind spot. It’s almost like finding an Englishman who has a Tory devotion to the traditions of the Union and the Mother of Parliaments, but for whom it wouldn’t matter too much if most MPs were Moslems or Sikhs, as long as they were faithful to those traditions. But why, in the end, should my no-longer-hypothetical Asian MPs be too faithful to traditions not their own—unless there are so few of them they have no choice? That’s a clumsy analogy, but I think you know what I mean.

I think Paul is better, more nuanced, than most of the Rockwell posters, though.

The one who worries me these days is Hucksterbee. He’s as open-borders as Bush, and—to the extent Bush is open-borders because he thinks that’s what Jesus wants—for the same reasons. HRS

LA replies:

That’s why, in my view, Paul at bottom is still in the libertarian/liberal camp. It’s not just neocons who see their country as an abstraction. It’s all varieties of conservatives. They see America as a collection of certain values and principles: family values, anti-abortion, strong defense, free markets, the Constitution. But they don’t see the country as a country and a people. They care about the principles and values that are part of America, they don’t care about America as an entity. And so long as they don’t have that, they will end up supporting or going along with the racial and cultural destruction of America.

Alex H. writes:

The way I see it, a vote is a vote for a position, not, since neither man is going to win, for president. And so a vote for Paul is a vote against mainline Republican foreign policy. That’s fine. A vote for Tancredo is a vote for immigration control. That’s more important.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 12, 2007 12:19 PM | Send

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