Ron Paul: A Dangerously Appealing Renegade to Students

Young Voters Should Take a Closer Look at Paul’s Policies Before Supporting the Candidate



At a rally in Boise, Idaho, Ron Paul easily wins over the crowd with his speech, but voters need to examine his questionable future goals as well. (Darin Oswald/Idaho State/MCT)

With the New York Republican primaries only two months away, registered Republicans at Fordham will hopefully be voting for their preferred presidential candidate soon.  Although many are disappointed with the race, there is one candidate who is surprisingly popular with college students.  This is Ron Paul, a Libertarian congressman from Texas.  While Paul may offer an alternative to the typical Republican candidate, many young voters have a misguided and, frankly, dangerous affinity for Ron Paul.

Most adults will say that college students like Ron Paul because he’s going to legalize marijuana.  I give college students more credit than that.  Paul is an interesting candidate for college students mostly because of his temperament.  He doesn’t conduct himself like most politicians.  In fact, he talks a lot like a professor.  Paul has one main speech, and he gives it everywhere.  The speech is, in fact, more of a lecture.  He often cites specific clauses of the Constitution and at one point even says, “Take your economics textbook out and look at the charts for 1971…the value of the dollar…went down 85 percent.”

Paul argues rationally for the position he believes in.  This is why I like him, and why I think most students do.  We’re tired of getting vague, emotionally charged fluff from politicians, like Newt Gingrich saying, “Do you believe we are better off to…decay gracefully…or do you think we should roll up our sleeves, do what it takes…so we remain the…strongest country on the planet?” Gingrich’s speech delivers too much bravado and not enough answers.  We want to be spoken to like we’re educated people looking for political solutions.  We are searching for a more reasonable person to vote for, and Paul seems to fit that description.

But it’s a sad day when you vote for someone just because they cleverly give arguments for their positions.  When you vote for someone, you vote for their policies first, their personality second.  I like Paul.  I would love to have a cup of coffee with him.  But there is no way that I would vote for him.  Paul is a radical Libertarian, which could be very dangerous in our country’s current state.  Paul might be reasonable, but his views certainly are not.

Most college students are socially conscious people.  They want to raise everyone’s overall standard of life.  Paul doesn’t think this is the federal government’s job. The website On the Issues shows he thinks that “entitlements are not rights.”  Anyone who is on Medicare, Medicaid, financial aid or any kind of welfare would be out of luck under Paul.  He thinks that “the whole notion of the safety net…encourag[es] carelessness and dependency on the government.”

Paul does not wish to reform these programs, as every other Republican candidate does.  He advocates their elimination.  According to him, citizens don’t deserve any help getting an education, finding a job and least of all paying their bills.  But people are already dependent on welfare programs.  If they are simply eliminated, an elderly woman who can’t pay for her medication will either die or put her family into bankruptcy.  This is not what most think of when they call Ron Paul reasonable.

A close look at Paul’s policies reveal that, aside from his temperament, he is anything but reasonable.  His views are destructive.  Forget seeing any kind of federal environmental reform. Paul would eliminate any federal regulations and allow local governments to make their own.  This means that pollution limits would vary from state to state.  If a corporation wanted their factories to pollute more, they could just move them to a state with looser regulations.  Paul also takes a frightening stance on tax reform.  He doesn’t want to reform our income tax at all.  He wants to eliminate it.

There is a disturbing pattern of outright elimination running through Paul’s policies.  It comes from his libertarian philosophy that we only have two forms of obligation: things we agree to (consent) and things we directly do to others (reparation).  This view works under the assumption that everyone is already equally advantaged by the social system.  But that assumption is false; arbitrary contingencies such as our financial status, job training and inheritance affect us.  It is society’s job to address these arbitrary inequalities, but this is not what I want to stress.

The point I want to stress is this: We need to pay more attention to the policies.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the reality show-esque melodrama, treating candidates like characters rather than potential leaders.  But we cannot let this entertainment get the best of us.  When we vote, we are supporting a set of policies that will be enforced.  Don’t let a candidate’s temperament fool you; when they get into office, their policies will rule.  Endorsing a candidate without understanding his or her policies is like hiring a babysitter without an interview—except the babysitter is running the country.  Instead, find the candidate you like by reading their policies on