Politics of principle

Politics of principle

Ron Paul wants small government both domestically and internationally. The Texas congressman opposes both public spending and internationalist foreign policy. Paul is not the best qualified candidate and is very unlikely to win the presidency. But his ideas may resonate in future campaigns.

The long serving congressman and former surgeon proposed the Gold Standard in 1980 and served on the US Gold Commission set up by President Ronald Reagan.

He also ran for president in 1988 as a Libertarian.

This time, he lacks the executive background of other candidates, but has attracted considerable support from the student community and has an impressive Internet funding operation. Paul exploits a central flaw of this year’s Republican candidates—if they are such believers in small government, then why are they pursuing an aggressive and internationalist foreign policy?

The Iraq war costs more than 1% of US gross domestic product. Paul differs from the Democrats in rejecting international entanglements altogether, rather than pursuing a multilateral foreign policy agenda.

Domestically, Paul would eliminate corporate welfare, agriculture subsidies and “new energy" subsidies to ethanol and solar power.

He also would tighten border security, remove welfare for illegal immigrants, and eliminate government intrusions on privacy, and violations of property rights. He would reduce the costs and increase the accountability of health care providers through health savings accounts and speed up regulatory delays to drug introduction. Paul is the only candidate to criticize the Federal Reserve.

His ideal monetary system is the gold standard but he believes a much tighter monetary policy, as automatic as possible, would be preferable to the current loose-money consensus between the Fed and Wall Street. It is a policy mix, different to any other on offer; to a large extent the Republicanism of Calvin Coolidge (though without Coolidge’s protectionism, which Paul opposes).