Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul once ran for the White House on the Libertarian ticket, and he's labeled with the term in his 2008 race, too. But a close look at Congressman Paul's voting record, and his stated views on a number of laws and policies, makes one wonder where the 'libertarian' stops and the 'republican' begins. In fact, his views on abortion, same-sex adoption and other issues are worth some questions as Paul prepares to field inquiries in the Republican YouTube debate.
The 'Libertarian' Views of Ron Paul
It appears that Paul's independent streak, and what many believe are his more moderate views on issues, have started to make an impact. He's the most-'friended' Republican candidate on MySpace, and he has a healthy $2 million + in the bank (more, reportedly, than Senator John McCain). And when compared to the rest of the GOP line-up for 2008, Paul does indeed offer some refreshing change: he voted against the war in Iraq, called out the other candidates on American foreign policies that inflamed Middle East tensions before September 11th, does not support Bush's domestic surveillance program, and refuses to vote for any funding bill that, in his view, is not essential and necessary.
But when it comes to social issues, how libertarian does Paul steer?
According to his website, Congressman Paul opposes abortion rights. But aren't libertarians all for keeping the government out of doctor's offices (and wombs)? He opposes same-sex adoption (but did vote against the anti-gay marriage amendment). And he didn't raise his hand at the GOP debate when Wolf Blitzer asked who opposes "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." (Though, in an encouraging sign of hope, he appears to perhaps be clarifying his position on that issue.)
If Congressman Paul would be as free-thinking and willing to break the mold on social issues as he is on economic, war and tax issues, he could make an even bigger impact in the race for the White House. Imagine a Republican calling out John McCain, a military veteran, on his refusal to honor LGBT service members. Or Paul taking up the position Giuliani used to have on abortion: safe but rare. No doubt, he'd only grow in popularity, and rise in the polls.
The upcoming CNN-YouTube debates present a unique opportunity to ask Congressman Paul about his social views and how they fit into his libertarian beliefs. (There's already one YouTube video up about the subject, from a former Navy linguist.)
Ron Paul has been willing to part ways with his party on a number of important topics, but now it's up to the public to see how much 'liberty' he'll really put into this race. Of all the GOP candidates, I have the most hope that Paul will stand up for what's right . . . and maybe all we really have to do is ask.