How does a Libertarian who espouses a government that leaves its citizens alone simultaneously believe that a government should decide whether a woman can abort a pregnancy? Easy: God.
In Ron Paul’s brand of Libertarian philosophy, there is one convenient deus ex machina. Indeed, it is quite literally the “hand of god,” in this instance, for religious belief allows Ron Paul to carry a cognitively dissonant political philosophy. While he aims to hold everyone else to constitutional principles, there is one area where it can be usurped: the matter of abortion.
It is proof that religion will make otherwise reasonable people double-cross themselves. It allows people to believe in two things simultaneously, which we call cognitive dissonance.
For those entertaining the idea of voting for Ron Paul, does his cognitive dissonance, his willingness to suspend his political philosophy to accommodate his religious philosophy, render him too problematic?
Well, Paul certainly believes in the pro-life narrative, so it would be disingenuous to suggest it’s merely a ploy to attract social conservatives and the religious fringe. Except, Paul’s latest campaign ad emphasizes his pro-life stance. Clearly he’s not beyond using it to out-flank Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and the other Republican candidates.
The ad is a 60-second spot called “Life,” in which a female narrator speaks over images of a young Dr. Paul, stating, “Dr. Ron Paul, more than 4,000 babies delivered. A man of faith committed to protecting life.”
Ron Paul himself states, “This whole notion of life not being valuable just is something I was never able to accept.” He then relates a medical experience in which he saw one late-pregnancy abortion being performed, then notes that just down the hall a baby was born early, “slightly bigger than the baby they just put in a bucket.” Rich pathos there, of course, which certainly wreaks of pandering.
That said, one cannot fault a man for belief, but one should realize that Paul’s Libertarian streak ends precisely where the economy and politics ends and the eternal begins. His pro-life stance is not born of the same reasoning he applies to every other issue, or, indeed to the constitution, which doesn’t consider the matter of abortion. Thus, Paul can’t attack the issue on constitutional grounds, only as a state’s rights imperative. And while this is a wonderful idea theoretically, we all know states have been known to be quite effective agents against civil liberties (see: Civil Rights movement).
Paul’s abortion stance is born of un-reason, of fantasy, of an unquantifiable belief in an entity that may or may not be there.
Is this reason enough not to cast a vote for Ron Paul in the primaries or a general election?
It’s probably safe to say that even if Paul would prefer to outlaw abortion, such legislation could never pass the House and the Senate, which would cause Paul to direct his talents to places where it is really needed: the economy, finance reform (Wall Street and the Federal Reserve), the American plague of imperialism (militarily but also economically), and unsustainable foreign aid levels while America is hurting domestically.
So, one-issue voters might find they simply cannot vote for Paul because of his pro-life position; but, this is no reason to completely disregard him as a candidate.
The Democrats might be totally impotent when it comes to regulating financial institutions and ending war abroad, but they’re always good for a fight when it comes to the issue of pro-choice, and have largely been successful with the issue.