A libertarian friend of mine is very disappointed in me for semi-endorsing Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination over Ron Paul. After all, he points out, Paul's anti-imperialistic views of the presidency—both in war-making and in executive power, generally—are closer to my own than any other GOP candidate. Heck, on those two areas, I like his views better than President Obama.
So why can't I support Paul for the GOP nomination? Easy. I think he'd be a disaster for the country.
Put aside his dubious explanations for the racist newsletters. Put aside the fact that he'd have nearly zero support for his agenda in Congress. Let's look at the agenda itself. (I take all the following statements from his website.)
He'd cut $1 trillion in government spending in the first year of his presidency, on the way to a balanced budget by Year Three. The debt is a problem, I agree, but I believe yanking so much money out of the economy would probably deepen our the Great Recession into something more of a Depression.
He'd eliminate the income, capital gains, and inheritance taxes on his way to keeping the government in its strict Constitutional limits. (Also, to make it easier for you to buy silver and gold coins: His website actually uses that as a rationale for eliminating the capital gains tax.) Maybe that would be replaced by a single flat tax, but mostly he'd eliminate. I'm not really sure how we'd pay for the government that is left.
He'd repeal the gasoline tax. How would we pay for roads?
He'd make it harder for unions to organize.
He'd "abolish the welfare state."
He'd make it impossible to rationally deal with the illegal immigrants present in the United States. (UPDATE: Specifically, he wants "no amnesty" for such immigrants. Which sounds fine, I guess, except the U.S. isn't going to deport the 11-12 million such folks who are here. Combine that with the abolishment of birthright citizenship, below, and Paul's policy would create a permanent underclass of non-citizens doing our menial work without the protections or responsibilities of citizenship. Yuck.)
He'd abolish birthright citizenship for the sons and daughters of immigrants.
So I generally—but warily—agree with Paul's instinct to be restrained in the use of American force abroad. But my impression of his overall agenda is that it would produce a crumbling country, meaner and more Darwinian. I'm not a libertarian, even though I have those instincts in certain areas. Some of what I've described above sound like features to my libertarian friend, I'm sure; it sounds like bugs to me.
If effective, Ron Paul would be a disaster. But given the unlikelihood of cooperation with Congress, I think he'd be merely ineffectual. Either way, why would I support him?