Beyond Party Lines (By Peter Kretzmann)
We are at a decisive turning point in the story of America. We have set a course for disaster that the status quo cannot fix. We need something far beyond the world of petty party politics. These two parties have created nothing short of a nightmare in Washington. We need new answers.
I myself used to be a neocon. I used to be in favor of our wars overseas. Why should we apologize for America’s greatness? Radical Islamists had to be stopped with aggressive military force, I thought. I was sure that they hated us because we are free. I used to defend George W. Bush in his decision to invade Iraq. On one or more occasions I even defended the adoption of the Patriot Act. I’d ensure people, that “It’s for our own safety. They need it to be able to catch the terrorists.” I am not proud recanting these details, but I have to admit that there was a time when I believed these things.I think a large part of this need to defend the party lines comes from the left-right paradigm that we as a nation seem to be stuck in. We tend to think our party is correct and the other party is flat wrong. We don’t want to be mistaken for that “terrible” other party, so we buy in deeper and deeper into the ideology of our chosen party. Our party may not be perfect, but at least it’s not the other one. The other party, we tend to think, is full of knuckleheads.
As a neocon, the wars in the middle east was definitely a place I fell into the left-right paradigm. This was partly in reaction to the anti-war rallies that had become so popular during Bush’s presidency. As I watched these angry “peace” marches, I found that I just couldn’t get behind it. They seemed to be less about anti-war than they were about anti-Bush. Again I fell into the two party trap. If I didn’t agree with the Bush haters, then I felt I had to defend these endless foreign wars, right? I thought they represented America’s greatness. Didn’t we want to be great?
It is interesting to note that once Obama became president the anti-war movement practically died among Democrats. If those angry peace marches were truly fighting for principle, wouldn’t that principle still stand under a Democratic president that supports aggressive wars as clearly as Obama does? Nothing has changed in our foreign policy, yet the movement virtually vanished. Were they fighting for principle or party?
The same is true for the Tea Party movement. Where were all these fiscal conservatives when Bush was spending his trillions on our undeclared, unconstitutional wars? Where were they when Bush pushed for bailouts? Yet they are all upset when a Democrat president does the same thing. One has to wonder, are the fighting for principle or party?
Ron Paul has helped me see a new way. A way based on principle. A way based on respect and individual liberty. A way based on recognizing the innate basic rights and humanity of all people. He didn’t try to convince us that the US was evil or that we couldn’t be “great,” he simply showed us that our actions have consequences. He introduced us to the concept of “blowback;” the idea that our meddling in the internal affairs of other countries and killing their civilians, creates an understandable ill will towards the US. What if China did the same to us? Wouldn’t we be mad? Ron Paul has showed us that mutual respect and free trade (which by definition should not permit trade sanctions) would go much further to create peace and prosperity throughout the world. He showed us that there was another measure of excellence. One not based on dominance, but one based in mutual respect and freedom.
He has brought a breath of fresh air to the political arena. Instead of carefully crafted empty slogans, he says what he believes, and offers real solutions to today’s problems. He is willing to be unpopular for the sake of telling the truth. In this he is able to step beyond the left-right paradigm.
When I first saw Ron Paul on YouTube in 2007, I was pretty sure he was nuts. I assured myself that he was extreme and unrealistic in his ideas. It seemed a little naive to think that freedom could work in this modern world we live in. Surely we needed more government control than in the days of the Founders.
Bit by bit I started to come around to Paul’s point of view. Maybe we could have the freedom to make decisions for ourselves? After all, government is full of imperfect individuals, what part of them being in Washington means they know the best way to run our lives?
As others argued between a 39% income tax and a 35% income tax, Ron Paul suggested that the concept of an income tax was wrong and we should be able to keep the money we earn. He boldly stated that he was in favor of abolishing the IRS. While others argued about how to fix the economy and rejuvenate the housing market, Paul made us look deeper into the cause of these vicious boom-bust cycles. He showed us that the economy would be better off without government intervention. He put the spotlight on the Federal Reserve as the root of our economic problems as well as being responsible for funding our endless wars and occupations around the world. He was the only candidate who predicted the economic recession that came to pass the following year. When the recession came, people argued how big the bailouts should be, not whether we should even bailing out corporations as Ron Paul suggested. While others argued which countries we should invade, how many troops we should send, and how long we should occupy said countries; Ron Paul asked why we were there at all. He stated the case for a strong national defense, but called for the end of this aggressive militarism around the world. He showed us the wisdom of bringing the troops home from the various 130 countries we have a presence in around the world. He showed us that the wars are a racket and are usually used as a way to undermine personal liberties here at home. He warned us that continuing on this path would spell the end of our republic.
It wasn’t that Ron Paul wanted to somehow go back to some mystical golden age, he simply wanted to use our foundations of the Constitution and liberty to build a new and better future. We have forsaken the principles that made America great and prosperous. We are carelessly throwing away what our Founders fought and died for. He primarily wanted a federal government that followed the dictates of the constitution. On this he has been impeccably consistent throughout his long career as a congressman.
Ron Paul finally was successful in getting me to think about principle above party. He doesn’t care what the Republican Party says about any particular issue. He doesn’t care if his views are popular. He follows the laws of the Constitution and the guidance of his own conscience. As a devout Christian he follows the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” He follows this even in practices he personally finds to be wrong. He recognizes the individual’s right to do whatever he so pleases, as long as he isn’t hurting or coercing another individual. I am eternally grateful to Dr. Paul for bringing principles back into the political arena.
I believe we are now teetering on the edge as a nation. We have an unsustainable debt load, and our government is spending more than ever. We are precariously close to runaway inflation. We are stuck in multiple endless, un-winnable wars (because undeclared and undefined). Our civil liberties have been trampled on by both parties. The Constitution is virtually ignored. Our presidents now have the power to execute American citizens without trial and without even presenting any evidence of guilt. What we have now is not left versus right, but up versus down. We are fighting for the very continuance of our great republic. We are fighting for the principles of freedom and liberty that made America great, but are now an all but forgotten dream. What we need now is to come together, not necessarily to agree, but at least to respect the opinions of other individuals. We need to appreciate the innate human rights in each individual and to recognize that it is not our place to dictate how others should live their lives. Each has the right to live how they deem appropriate.
We can create a better world, but we need to move quickly. If we are smart enough as a nation, we will vote for Ron Paul no matter what party we identify ourselves with. What we have in Washington are two parties that are unwilling to work together, but are in fact not that different from each other. There has been no significant change in our foreign policy (and our willingness to torture people), our respect for civil liberties, and our monetary policy from one administration to the next. These are the issues that are crippling our nation today. A vote for Ron Paul would be a major step in the direction of solving these problems. A vote for anyone else is simply continuing the status quo.
I once asked a wise friend of mine which party he sided with. He replied, “I am for the people.” A simple but profound answer. Why conform to either party, when neither has all the answers. We need more of this attitude today.
Friends of all political persuasions, aren’t you tired of what we’ve been given year after year from Washington? If you’re ready to work to make a better nation, one built on honesty, integrity, and principle, then let’s vote for Ron Paul. I, for one, believe that the fate of our republic depends on it.
Please, my fellow Americans, vote based on principle.