No one “won” the first GOP presidential debate Thursday night in South Carolina. There were no “body blows” and gaffes, but three of the candidates continue to support America’s warfare state while Rep. Ron Paul and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson want U.S. troops withdrawn from Afghanistan ASAP now that Osama Bin Laden is dead.
Rep. Paul, in fact, got the first big applause of the evening when he said it is time to bring the troops home from Afghanistan. He also got a surprisingly huge positive reaction from the audience when he said even heroin should be legalized because the war on drugs has been a failure.
As a lifelong consistent advocate of liberty, Ron Paul was been an unwavering advocate of drug legalization not because he is a proponent of drug use but just the opposite, he abhors people abusing their bodies. Thus, Rep. Paul does not believe that laws will—or should—be used to make people virtuous. On the contrary, prohibition of any substance causes more crime, as black markets attract violent individuals who will use any means necessary to protect their “turf.”
In short, the war on drugs has been a colossal failure. Ironically, the two most dangerous substances people use are legal—tobacco and alcohol–even though they “kill” several hundred thousands of Americans each year and cause untold illnesses annually, thereby driving up health care costs. If the proponents of the “war” on marijuana, heroin and other prohibited substances believe it is the responsibility and duty of the government to protect people from ingesting harmful substances, then they should call for the prohibition of alcohol and tobacco.
On the economy, Rep. Paul missed a couple of opportunities to make the best case possible that as a consistent advocate of limited government he has been warning the Congress and the American people for more than 35 years about the dangers of runaway spending, massive deficits, money printing, interest rate manipulation and government Ponzi schemes.
Ron came very close to hitting a “monster” home run when he was asked about raising the debt ceiling. He pointed out the federal government has defaulted on its obligations in the past; the most recent one was in 1971 when President Nixon closed the gold window. Ron should have said this “default” by President Nixon prompted him to run for Congress in 1976, because he was concerned about the long-term finances of the federal government and the value of the U.S. dollar. He then should have said the long term is here and we had better get serious about downsizing the government by phasing out as quickly as possible all the unconstitutional cabinet departments, ending legal counterfeiting, and phasing out the entitlement culture.
If Ron articulates the need to have a limited federal government with the all the facts, namely, that spending on entitlements must be phased out including the two Ponzi schemes—Social Security and Medicare– while protecting the benefits of current and soon to be retirees, he will win the votes of people who claim America is on the wrong track. He needs to call for the nonprofitization of social services, and quote from Peter Drucker’s 1991 Wall Street Journal article about why we should replace the welfare state with private charity. He has to make the case that the federal government needs to be restructured. Ron made that point when he said the military establishment needs to be reduced and the money could be used to take of our problems at home.
On another level, Ron has been looking great on many recent interviews, but on the South Carolina stage, his body language was way off. His suit did not lie neatly on his shoulders. He needs to stand upright and look more confident. Ron also appeared to have trouble hearing some of the questions and did not answer them as smoothly as he does on television interviews, even though his answers are right on the money. However, on television, in many cases, Ron message could be lost if the audience’s perceptions are that the messenger is not as “smooth” as his opponents are.
If Ron tweaks his message and makes the case that only he of all the candidates has been warning about the fiscal and monetary crises we are now facing for decades, then more Americans will rally around his candidacy. Ron is not a braggart or an egomaniac like most of the other candidates, but he has to “take the gloves off” and “toot his own horn.”