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.