14 July 2007
*posted from pro libertate email ezine.
Ever since Congressman Ron Paul announced that he was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, I have maintained that, even though he appears to live up to the Christian Right’s own criteria, I believe the leadership of the Christian Right will reject him Christian leaders, many of whom make up what I have called “The Christian Axis of Evil,” love centralization more than federalism, political power more than liberty, war more than peace, politicians more than principles, “faith-based” socialism more than the free market, and the state more than God Almighty.
Why would the leadership of the Christian Right reject someone who was pro-religion, pro-life, pro-family values, pro-religious liberty, pro-Constitution, and a veteran, who not only was opposed to same-sex marriage, unrestricted immigration, gun control, and the United Nations, but never, in all his years in Congress, voted to raise taxes, took a government-paid junket, or voted for a congressional pay raise?
I believe this is due to three things: ignorance, stupidity, and statolatry.
The first reason I believe the leadership of the Christian Right will reject a candidate like Ron Paul is ignorance. Some Christians don’t understand how someone can oppose abortion but also oppose a constitutional amendment banning abortion, oppose same-sex marriage but also oppose a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman, and oppose flag burning but also oppose a constitutional amendment outlawing flag burning. The answer is that congressmen who oppose such amendments are following the Constitution to which they swore allegiance.
Strict constitutionalists believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided because abortion is simply not a constitutional issue. There is no serious argument based on the text of the Constitution that there exists a federal “right to abortion.” The federalization of abortion law is not based on constitutional principles, but on a social and political construct created out of thin air by the Roe court. Since the federal government has no authority to involve itself in the abortion issue, a federal law banning abortion in all the states would be just as wrong as Roe v. Wade.
Many religious people consider marriage to be first and foremost a religious matter, not a government matter. Strict constitutionalists, religious or otherwise, don’t think social problems can be solved by constitutional amendments or government edicts. Taken to its logical conclusion, the turning of regulation of domestic family relations over to the federal government means that presumably anything can be federalized. Because the federal government has only been granted limited, enumerated powers by the Constitution, it has no role whatsoever regarding marriage law. Although the states should enforce marriage contracts and settle divorces, they too should otherwise stay out of marriage.
When it comes to the subject of flag burning, strict constitutionalists maintain that the offensive conduct of a few does not justify making an exception to the First Amendment protections of political speech that the majority considers to be offensive. Since freedom of speech and freedom of expression depend ultimately on private property, making flag burning a federal crime is an attack on property rights. However, strict constitutionalists would have no trouble supporting overriding the Supreme Court case that overturned State laws prohibiting flag burning.
One reason some members of Congress oppose these constitutional amendments is because they are advocates of that forgotten constitutional principle of federalism. The division of power between the federal government and the states is one of the virtues of our American political system. To alter this balance would endanger self-government and individual liberty. State legislatures should decide social policy because federalism was established to allow decentralized, local decision-making. Following the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, all authority over matters not specifically addressed in the Constitution should remain with state legislatures.
The second reason I believe the leadership of the Christian Right will reject a candidate like Ron Paul is stupidity. Some Christians are dumb enough to think that because someone is a libertarian that he is also a libertine. The essence of libertarianism is that it is wrong to threaten or initiate violence against a person or his property. Force is justified only in self-defense.
Libertarianism, as explained by Murray Rothbard, the twentieth century’s greatest proponent of it, is a political philosophy that “holds that the only proper role of violence is to defend person and property against violence, that any use of violence that goes beyond such just defense is itself aggressive, unjust, and criminal. Libertarianism, therefore, is a theory which states that everyone should be free of violent invasion, should be free to do as he sees fit except invade the person or property of another.”
Libertinism, by way of distinction, is a way of life that might be considered hedonistic or sympathetic to “alternative lifestyles.” A libertine might be a libertarian, a liberal, a conservative, a socialist, a progressive, or an anarchist. He might be a member of the Libertarian Party, the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, some lesser-known third party, or no political party. One does not have to be a Christian to oppose libertinism. And there are plentiful examples illustrating the fact that self-described “traditional values” conservatives can be practicing libertines.
Other Christians are dumb enough to think that because someone opposes the war on drugs that he supports drug use. Physicians know firsthand the harmful effects of mind-altering narcotics. But drug addiction is a social problem, not a crime. For the first 140 years of our country’s history we had no federal drug war -- and far fewer problems with drug addiction and crime. The federal war on drugs encourages violence, has led to the militarization of law enforcement, created an unnecessarily vast prison population, has wasted hundreds of billions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money, has been used as an excuse to attack our civil liberties and personal privacy, has been an excuse to undermine our financial privacy, has promoted illegal searches and seizures resulting in innocent people losing their lives and property, criminalizes the actions of legitimate physicians who act in good faith when prescribing pain relief drugs, threatens the effective treatment of chronic pain, and corrupts our police, the military, border guards, and the judicial system.
Still other Christians are dumb enough to think that because one opposes giving foreign aid to Israel that he is pro-Palestinian or anti-Semitic. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, receiving over $50 billion in military grants since 1949. Congressmen who are strict constitutionalists oppose giving foreign aid to Israel for the simple reason that they oppose giving foreign aid to any country. Their perspective is that of the Founding Fathers: America should not intervene in the internal affairs of other nations. They believe that our meddling in the Middle East has only intensified strife, conflict, and violence. Both sides in the Middle East conflict have more military weapons as a result of our foolish and unconstitutional foreign aid. Some of our foreign aid no doubt winds up in the hands of terrorists.
The third reason I believe the leadership of the Christian Right will reject a candidate like Ron Paul is statolatry. There are a few of members of Congress who have consistently opposed both war and the warfare state. Many Christians, however, support both. In fact, some of the greatest defenders of the state, its president, its legislation, its military, and its wars are conservative Christians.
With their “obey the powers that be” mantra they blindly follow any president as long as he is not an “evil” Democrat. And even worse, because of the unholy alliance that exists between certain evangelical Christians and the military, they defend, and in some cases even participate in, the state’s latest military adventure no matter what the political party of the commander in chief, all the while, of course, repeating their mantra of “support the troops.”
Some conservative Christians are so in love with the state that they support (in the name of national security, of course) pre-emptive war, bloated defense and intelligence budgets, secret military tribunals, torture of “enemy combatants,” extraordinary renditions, an increasingly militarized society, the violation of basic civil liberties, undue government secrecy, and domestic spying programs. If we had a draft they would probably support it too.
The best way we can support the troops is to bring them home. Not just from Iraq, but from all the countries in which we have troops stationed. Members of Congress who wish to return to the noninterventionist foreign policy of the Founders should, to be consistent, have voted against funding the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The 9/11 attacks should be seen as guerrilla attacks in retaliation against the United States for what the Arabs and Muslim world see as our invasion and interference in their homelands. The attacks should have led to less foreign intervention, not more. If the federal government is going to follow the Constitution, its activities should be limited to real national defense, securing the borders, providing a federal court system, and doing very little else but what is enumerated in the Constitution.
Although the leadership of the Christian Right may prove me wrong and wholeheartedly embrace the candidacy of Ron Paul, their ignorance of federalism, aversion to libertarianism, envious puritanism, rejection of the foreign policy of the founders, and overwhelming show of support for the state, its president, its wars leads me to believe otherwise.
Mr. Vance, who teaches at Pensacola Junior College, is Director of The Francis Wayland Institute. He is also author of two books: Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, and King James, His Bible, and Its Translators.
Posted by wst... at 15:38