In my latest reading of Ron Paul’s Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom, Paul made four points that stood out to me:
1. Paul criticized capital punishment, making the excellent point that the government botches things up, so why should we give it the power over people’s life and death (especially considering the innocent people who have been executed)? At the same time, his view appears to be that there should be no federal death penalty, but that the states should be able to set their own policies. This illustrates why I find Ron Paul’s political philosophy puzzling: He talks a lot about liberty (i.e., freedom to live, for example), yet he also seems to want for the states to have the latitude to restrict liberty, if they so desire.
2. In his chapter on the Central Intelligence Agency, Ron Paul is all for gathering intelligence, but he’s against the CIA assassinating people, as that breeds resentment and invites terrorist attacks against America. I think this is a reasonable position on Ron Paul’s part.
3. I especially enjoyed Ron Paul’s discussion about civil disobedience: Paul’s admiration of Mohammad Ali for sacrificing what was dear to him to oppose the Vietnam War, and Paul’s mixed feelings about Martin Luther King, Jr, for, although Ron Paul admires King’s stand for racial justice and opposition to the Vietnam War, he did not care for King’s anti-free market economic views. (Moreover, Ron Paul in his chapter on “Demagogues” criticizes the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it is the government telling private interests whom they can associate with.) Paul laments that people in the United States either oppose war while supporting socialism, or support war while opposing socialism, when a consistent position is to oppose both war and socialism, since both expand the power of the state. I tend to fall more in the leftist category, but I enjoy reading the writings of anti-war conservatives, such as Bill Kauffman’s Ain’t My America.
4. Ron Paul criticizes the draft because it’s the government controlling people, plus he says that the rich can get out of it, which is unfair. What interested me, however, was Paul’s discussion about the history of the draft. He says that the draft was not used in the War of 1812, when the British were attacking America. But Lincoln used it, inciting riots, and Woodrow Wilson employed it as well. I was amazed that we did not have the draft in the War of 1812.