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Ron Paul Endorses Far-Right Conspiracy Theorist:

Yesterday, former Republican Party presidential candidate Ron Paul endorsed the Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin. This endorsement confirms the fears I expressed in this series of posts about Paul's association with extreme social conservatism and embrace of ridiculous conspiracy-mongering.

Who is Chuck Baldwin? Among other things, he's an enthusiastic purveyor of all manner of far-right conspiracy theories. Paul himself believes the ridiculous claim that the Bush Administration is trying to establish a "North American Union" uniting Mexico, the US, and Canada under a single government. Baldwin goes Paul one better. He not only endorses the NAU myth but also claims that "By 2015, I'm told, the powers that be want to merge Europe and America." He thinks that the Council on Foreign Relations is at the heart of a conspiracy to create a "global government" - a longstanding trope for conspiracy theorists. He rails against "moneychangers" who are supposedly destroying us by promoting free trade and international investment for the ultimate purpose of establishing a world government. Baldwin even wrote a 2007 column entitled "There is a Conspiracy" documenting the supposed plan to create world government. To prevent this, he is opposed to the "global economy," free trade, and international economic integration, a position radically at odds with that of most libertarians (see the last three links).

Baldwin is also an extreme social conservative on domestic issues. Like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, Baldwin wrote soon after 9/11 that the terrorist attack was a punishment inflicted by God because of the nation's departures from traditional sexual morality:

For nearly a half-century, we have forsaken the moral principles of Heaven. We have legally murdered too many unborn babies. We have too readily accepted aberrant, sexual behavior. We kicked Heaven out of our schools, out of our homes, and out of our hearts. As a result, God is giving us a little taste of Hell. [Emphasis added]

He also thinks that multiculturalism is part of a plot by evil "secularists" to "de- Christianize our country" and that we must restore Christianity to its supposedly rightful role as "the founding principles of our beloved republic."

By endorsing Baldwin, Paul doesn't necessarily embrace all of Baldwin's views. Nonetheless, it's hard to see how anyone genuinely committed to libertarianism could possibly support such a candidate. Perhaps Paul believes that Baldwin is highly objectionable, but is still the lesser of the available evils from a libertarian point of view. That's a very hard argument to defend; I certainly don't buy it myself. But if Paul were to make it, he could at least distance himself from Baldwin's more objectionable views. In fact, however, Paul hasn't made any such claim. To my knowledge, he has never publicly said anything negative about Baldwin's views at all.

Moreover, it's important to remember that Baldwin (like Paul before him), has no chance of even coming close to winning. From a libertarian point of view, the key question in deciding to endorse him is not whether his policies as president might be less bad than those of some other candidate, but whether association with a far right conspiracy nut helps the libertarian cause more than it harms it in the long run. In my view, the answer to that question is a pretty obvious "No." That, of course, is how I felt about the misplaced enthusiasm among some libertarians for Ron Paul's own candidacy. In retrospect, it's even more clear than before that the tens of millions spent on Ron Paul's failed presidential campaign could have done a lot more good for libertarian causes if spent elsewhere.

OrinKerr:
Best line from Baldwin's essay arguing that there is a conspiracy to create a one world government:
Yes, my friends, there is a conspiracy. No, it is not a Jewish conspiracy. It is much more than that.
Ah, so the problem with saying it's a Jewish conspiracy is not that it's wrong but that the conspiracy is bigger than just the Jews. Got it.
9.23.2008 7:40pm
Ilya Somin:
so the problem with saying it's a Jewish conspiracy is not that it's wrong but that the conspiracy is bigger than just the Jews. Got it.

The Jews, it seems, are just a front group for the real conspiracy run by the "moneychangers."
9.23.2008 7:44pm
PC:
The Jews, it seems, are just a front group for the real conspiracy run by the "moneychangers."

I never knew the machines in arcades could have such power.
9.23.2008 7:46pm
OrinKerr:
Ilya,

And I think behind the moneychangers there is an even bigger conspiracy, this one run by the Jews.

And then behind the Jews....
9.23.2008 7:47pm
_quodlibet_:

the key question in deciding to endorse him is not whether his policies as president might be less bad than those of some other candidate, but whether association with a far right conspiracy nut helps the libertarian cause more than it harms it in the long run.

That's debatable. One could make a principled argument that one should support the best candidate regardless of his predicted chances of winning. (But I do agree that this particular endorsement was a very poor one.)
9.23.2008 7:47pm
Jay:
"And I think behind the moneychangers there is an even bigger conspiracy, this one run by the Jews.

And then behind the Jews...."

It's just an extension of John Buchan's famous explanation of how the world works in Thirty-Nine Steps. I mean, 80 years later, we should be able to get one step farther back in the chain of who really runs things...
9.23.2008 8:15pm
byomtov (mail):
And I think behind the moneychangers there is an even bigger conspiracy, this one run by the Jews.

And then behind the Jews....


Actually, at some point it's Jews all the way down.
9.23.2008 8:27pm
bski:
So as someone with libertarian instincts, do you suggest I vote for the party that in the news has been fighting to increase the size of government, or do I vote Democrat?

I fail to see how voting for either "helps the libertarian cause."
9.23.2008 8:41pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
bski: Suppose that both parties want to increase the size of government. Divided government could still limit the growth of government relative to either all-Republican or all-Democratic government, so voting for divided government could be objectively pro-smaller-government (or at least less-larger). (This is of course if you make the common assumption that you should vote as if your vote mattered, but limit yourself to parties with the largest chance of being the beneficiaries of your vote mattering....)

But suppose both parties not only wanted to increase government but also agreed on precisely how to do so, so even divided government wouldn't make a difference. Still, voting for certain fringe, wacko candidates could objectively harm the libertarian cause. And that's even granting that their policy program, if adopted, would be better for the world than anything we have now.
9.23.2008 8:51pm
Gabriel McCall (mail):
"the tens of millions spent on Ron Paul's failed presidential campaign could have done a lot more good for libertarian causes if spent elsewhere."

I'm not sure I agree with that- or at least, I'm sure that it's not obviously true. Obviously he didn't win, but that's not the same thing as saying that the money and the campaign had no useful effect.

One effect is a generally higher cultural awareness of monetary theory. Dr. Paul's being invited onto mainstream news shows to offer Austrian explanations of the financial crisis. The "easy credit" explanation for the housing bubble shows up as a generally-accepted fact in wide-ranging media up to and including the NYT, and it's not difficult to imagine that he's a primary cause of that.

And, there's now a huge organizaton of Ron Paul meetup groups. The Goldwater contributors list got Reagan to the presidency. The RP Meetups may well turn out to be this generation's version of the Goldwater list, and a catalyst for Taft school reform within the Republican party.

I could come up with more examples, but my point is that "defeated" and "wasted" are not the same thing.
9.23.2008 8:57pm
Somedude127 (mail):
It's damage control time for libertarians. Baldwin's ideas are crazy, but not as crazy as they could be... hollow earth anyone?
9.23.2008 9:00pm
Bruce McCullough (mail):
"He thinks that the Council on Foreign Relations is at the heart of a conspiracy to create a "global government" - a longstanding trope for conspiracy theorists."

Trope? If he literally believes it -- and I think that's the case here -- then by definition it is not a trope, which is used in a figurative sense.

Maybe you want the word 'canard', which can denote a belief that is untrue.

Bruce
9.23.2008 9:44pm
obi juan (mail):
The money could have done more elsewhere? Then go do your own money bomb and tell us all how you make out. The fact is that the money wouldn't have existed without Paul. It was Paul's money to spend as he saw fit. I donated to the campaign not for what he could do with the money, but out of appreciation for what he was saying during the debates. He earned ever penny.

As Gabriel McCall mentioned above, Paul is now being invited on news show to talk about the financial crisis. This is because of what he was saying all throughout the primary.
9.23.2008 9:50pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
we must quickly throw off this foolish infatuation with multiculturalism, which is nothing more than an attempt to de- Christianize our country, and humbly return to the God of our fathers!

I don't see a problem with this statement from a libertartian perspective. In this essay he is not advocating state action merely the throwing off of a yoke, something anyone is free to advocate and do.

Additionally, it is perfectly aguable that multiculturalism is a specific maneuver by the left to transform America so the statement is not too far off.

He's certainly no libertarian but Ron himself has many unlibertarian views.
9.23.2008 9:56pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Yawn, nutcase endorses giant nutcase.
9.23.2008 10:02pm
Darel (mail):
Hi,

I noticed your post regarding Chuck Baldwin. Perhaps you should contact his office for an interview and ask for details and replies to concerns you have.

By the way the President of Mexico did in fact confirm on Fox news the NAU does exsist. I also have four press video shots of "W" confirming the NAU is a fact.

the proof is clear. Ron Paul and Chuck Baldwin have opposed the NAU and so should you.

Also, a bill to oppose the NAU is in congress.

I'm proud of Ron Paul and Chuck Baldwin.
9.23.2008 10:03pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I think the question you're trying to ask is, how did I miss how crazy Ron Paul was in the first place? And what else am I missing?
9.23.2008 10:17pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

Actually, at some point it's Jews all the way down.


So, Jews are turtles?
9.23.2008 10:36pm
Norman Bates (mail):
byomtv: You beat me to it!
9.23.2008 10:50pm
NH (mail):
Sorry it's no longer a conspiracy as we watch our money disappear into thin air!

HOW DARE YOU??????????????????


:-(
9.23.2008 10:52pm
David Warner:
"Actually, at some point it's Jews all the way down."

Until it gets to Nicolae Carpathia, no doubt.
9.23.2008 10:58pm
Bski:
S Volokh:

I guess I just don't think the mainstream candidates are any less wacky than Paul or Baldwin. I see them as merely more accepted by the mainstream media. For example, as far as I can tell, both mainstream candidates agree with taking 700 billion of taxpayer money to bail out an industry that took some stupid risks and failed.

I agree though, I am always torn by voting for guy I hate but has the chance of winning (although not in California, so moot here) or in this case hope for gridlock or go for the principled guy and hope that the next candidate will like to at least attempt to get my vote.

I don't like either choice.
9.23.2008 11:12pm
Mark Bahner (www):

(This is of course if you make the common assumption that you should vote as if your vote mattered, but limit yourself to parties with the largest chance of being the beneficiaries of your vote mattering....)


There's no rational reason to think one's vote will change the course of a presidential election. So it's best to vote for the candidate who best represents your views.

Bob Barr, anyone? (Assuming he's somehow dispensed with his drug warrior ideas that got the Libertarian Party to exert significant effort to get him booted out of Congress only a while ago.)
9.23.2008 11:23pm
Ilya Somin:
I think the question you're trying to ask is, how did I miss how crazy Ron Paul was in the first place? And what else am I missing?

Actually, I didn't miss it, which is why I wrote a whole series of posts opposing Paul during the primaries and pointing out some of his wackier views.
9.24.2008 1:02am
js5 (mail):
Ilya: Paul has been spot on for years now. I'm not sure what views you find 'wacky'. Last I checked, he's one of maybe three representatives that understand libertarianism. Oh, were you going to post his 'wacky' views on the Federal Reserve needing to be eliminated?

I would like to add that Chuck Baldwin makes Sarah Palin look like Ayn Rand. I'm utterly disappointed that he's done this, and I think it is a detriment to his movement.

If the movement to support Palin and Baldwin don't convince ya that Christians are trying to turn this country into a theocracy....nothing will....
9.24.2008 1:48am
David Warner:
js5,

"If the movement to support Palin and Baldwin don't convince ya that Christians are trying to turn this country into a theocracy....nothing will...."

You are correct. Nothing will convince me of that false statement. Well, not nothing. Call me when the first Dominionist wins so much as a dog catcher election.

Or show me one action Palin has taken as governor that could be construed as in any way turning that state into a theocracy. Nice tinfoil hat, BTW. You've been played.
9.24.2008 1:53am
js5 (mail):
Um no tinfoil hat. Sorry, I was addressing the backers of both campaigns, not the candidates themselves. Thanks for avoiding the distinguishing between 'movement to support' and "Palin and Baldwin".

At least you appear to concede a point not made about Baldwin.
9.24.2008 2:13am
yikesoyikes (mail):
Ilya, dude, you are like the girl I couldn't marry but loved so much. Get a grip, Ron Paul is right on almost every issue that should matter to libertarians, whether they be "libertarians" or "Libertarians" or whatever. Maybe take an afternoon and read some of his substantive works, or even just watch some youtube videos. Don't marginalize him because he refuses to submit to whatever trendy money-rich folks are around today, whether it be the Koch's or AIPAC.
9.24.2008 3:10am
JB:
Divided government only helps if the two sides can't work together. Otherwise it devolves into a "you scratch my back, I scratch yours" case, and we get both the Republican and Democrat idiotic increases in government size, paid for by borrowing and handwaving.

At least with unified government you only get one side's grandiose plans.
9.24.2008 7:56am
FlimFlamSam:
Baldwin may be pretty far to the right, but he is no more of an extremist than half the Democratic Party.
9.24.2008 9:00am
You say buy us, I say by us:
This is great. During the RNC, Orin had some police-related posts that ended up dragging a bunch of anarchists into the thread, and now Ilya has pulled the Paulites in as well. At least Perot was a little more entertaining and had good infomercial sensibilities.

Remember that the goal of the third parties is not to win the election but to get (I think) 3% of the vote for federal funding next time...
9.24.2008 11:53am
ba2 (mail):
Baldwin says we're in trouble because "We kicked Heaven out of our schools, out of our homes, and out of our hearts."
This is not so far from George Washington's warnings in his farewell address:
"And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/washing.htm
9.24.2008 2:01pm
David Warner:
ba2,

Religion is not the droid Enlightenment defenders are looking for.
9.24.2008 3:35pm
JC:
Ilya, you state that "Nonetheless, it's hard to see how anyone genuinely committed to libertarianism could possibly support such a candidate." With this statement, you sound like a typical beltway libertarian.

Baldwin, who supported Ron Paul during the GOP primaries, has many libertarian positions that align with the position of Ron Paul on crucial issues, namely:

1. He's for a non-interventionist foreign policy;
2. He wants to abolish the Fed, and return to sound money;
3. He's pro-Second Amendment;
4. He's for a repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, and end to the federal income tax;
5. He's for U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA/GATT/WTO (this position is in accord with Murray Rothbard's).
6. He's against conscription;
7. He's against presidential abuse of "executive orders"
8. He's against federal involvement in education.
9. He's agains federal intrusion into the health care system.
10. He's for phasing out social security.

These are very strong paleo-libertarian positions in accord with Ron Paul and Murray Rothbard. Rothbard, remember, is the most significant libertarian philosopher ever.
9.24.2008 7:24pm