Between the Palmetto Freedom Forum and the Reagan Library Presidential debate the question rattling around my head is why exactly does Ron Paul have to explain his positions while no one else does? Granted, Paul has some positions outside of the Republican mainstream, but it seems ridiculous that he has to explain his questioning of Republican “orthodoxy” while everyone else gets to thump a talking point drum to make a nice little sound bite.
Paul (and once again this is not an endorsement) has to justify his stance on the drug war. For some reason it is just an unquestionable fact that we need a war on drugs, and Paul is a crazy loon that needs to justify a position that says adult, free Americans should be able to intoxicate themselves however they see fit, and the drug war can not be “won”. Why are no candidates asked what they are going to do to win the war on drugs? Ask them what they will do: More laws? More lives wasted in prison? More billions on interdiction? Is all we need another 50,000 dead Mexican citizens and the war will be won? I would like to see an intelligent blind question where one of these other candidates is given the option to ban an intoxicant. Ask them about a product that causes thousand of deaths every year, ruins families, can cause birth defects, makes addicts out of thousands every year, can lead to violence and a host of other social ills. Ask them if it would be appropriate for the government to ban this product, and then tell them it they have been talking about alcohol. It would be nice to see the look on one of these other clown's faces after that one. Banning alcohol was probably the most monumental failure of policy that this country has ever undertaken, and everyone is well aware of that unquestionable fact, and no one would advocate returning to that policy. Why is that not obvious when it comes to the Drug War? Why is it crazy to question that policy knowing what we know about our own history with Prohibition? Why do we tolerate a jackass moderator with his smug little smirk asking “what about this crazy notion of legalizing drugs?” and not demand he ask the other candidates the flip side of that question to the others?
The other crazy notion is about Iran and nuclear weapons. This is meant to halt any notion of questioning America’s role as the world policeman. The Neo-Cons especially love this one to discredit Paul as unfit from a foreign policy stand point, he is an isolationist after all, and everyone knows that the most dangerous thing in the whole world since the Nazis/Commies/Hippies is the notion of an Islamic Atom bomb. While you can credibly debate the notion of a destabilizing effect of an Iranian nuke in the region, why are no other candidates asked what they would do to stop it? Paul comes at it from a principled position of international sovereignty and the limits of American power. How are the other candidates going to address the problem once realized though? They can simply stand up and pound the podium and say that they won’t allow Iran to have the bomb, but how exactly would they stop it? Sanctions have not moved Iranian policy in any way over the last 30 years. Air strikes? Can anyone say that air strikes could reliably destroy the entire nuclear program? Once destroyed what keeps the program from restarting? Will there be a decapitation strike against the leadership at the same time? Invasion to ensure the program is completely destroyed? Does that come with regime change and nation building too? If the Iranian regime is so dangerous and mentally unstable what are the consequences of any planned action? A wider Middle Eastern war? Given our position in the region and the economic realities we face shouldn’t these questions be asked and answered? North Korea has (it is believed) the bomb right now, should all candidates be asked what they are going to do to reverse that? Pakistan has the bomb, if the Islamo-fascist should take over Pakistan what would these candidates do? Is that not a reasonable extension of the Iranian question?
We keep hearing how tumultuous and unique the times we live in are and that we need “adult” conversations about the future direction of our country. Isn’t about time then that orthodoxy is questioned? Why not reexamine the long held beliefs and policies and say “maybe there is another path”. If the debate moderators, journalists and pundits are simply going to call Paul’s policy prescriptions crazy or naïve then we should insist that they and the other candidates explain how the status quo should continue on unquestioned, and how that is going to appeal to any voter outside the hardcore Republican base. They are going to vote Republican, that is a given, but the Independent voter is going to decide this election. The Independent voter is looking to see who is going to do things differently, because orthodox has not been working as of late. We should all be questioning the orthodox and whether or not we should continue on and on with the same policies, or should we be trying something different to actually change the direction of this country.