Ron Paul is a 2012 Republican Presidential candidate with a strong Libertarian leaning philosophy. His dedication to limited federal government,
non-intervention abroad, strong protection of our national sovereignty, a belief in protecting our borders, and leaving social/moral issues to the
states are the best description of his ideas. He has garnered a large following of enthusiastic voters, many of which were disaffected, and brought
them into his movement around the rallying cry “END THE FED”.
The president he most admires:
"I like Grover Cleveland.... He endorsed the foreign policy of nonintervention; he was a gold-standard person. He loved the veto.... One person that
I admired – he didn't become president. He was part of the Old Right. That was Robert Taft [former conservative Republican senator from
Why is his mentioning of these two men so important you might ask? Well some people argue that to find what a person really believes you need not look
any further than whom he admires. Let me explain why his mentioning of Grover Cleveland and Robert Taft are so important.
Grover Cleveland was President from 1885-1889 and again from 1893-1897. He was the only Democratic President to be elected during the era from
1860-1912. During the period from 1876-1904 existed the ‘Bourbon Democrat’, these were conservative Democrats mostly found in the South and parts
of the North who believed strongly in adhering to the messages of Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson. The first prominent use of this name was in the
1870s when the Redeemers arose in the South causing a conservative reaction against Reconstruction, these Redeemers were Bourbon Democrats.
This political label was intended to be an epithet referring to people of old-fashioned and out-of-date views. Nevertheless the name stuck and works
today as a classification device in regards to the politics of the post-Civil War era before the Progressive era. These Bourbon Democrats represented
business interests in a different way from the more activist and centralizing Republicans. They worked towards the interests of banking and railroads
but refused to subsidize them and protect them from competition as the Republicans did. Its core economic idea was laissez-faire capitalism that
opposed the protectionist policies of the GOP.
Another core concept was anti-imperialism; they refused to maintain a large standing army and did not believe in intervention abroad, this included US
expansion westward. The gold standard is what they are often remembered for as they fought to their inevitable death defending it against the populist
impulses of the rural Western farmer oriented Democrats who believed in bimetallism (i.e. William Jennings Bryan). They deeply opposed the spoils
system endorsed by many Republicans where whenever a party wins office they give government jobs to their voters, instead the Bourbons supported the
Civil Service Reform which required giving government jobs based on merit not voting.
This faction of the Democratic Party held control from 1876-1896 when the populism of William Jennings Bryan seized control of the party with his
‘Cross of Gold’ speech and changing the party towards its more modern understanding. It was moved from a laissez-faire states’ rights party to a
liberal federal interventionist party that resulted in Woodrow Wilson implementing many liberal/populist programs and most notably the New Deal of
Franklin Roosevelt. However the Bourbons in one last attempt at taking back the party nominated Alton B. Parker in 1904, a first class candidate, but
he lost miserably to Theodore Roosevelt in the general election finishing off the Bourbons.
Now the other man, Robert Taft, is also interesting for Ron Paul to admire because he was known as “Mr. Republican”. A Senator for Ohio from
1939-1953 Robert Taft was also the leader of the ‘Old Right’ and ran for President in 1940, 1948, and 1952. The last was his best showing where he
would have won the party nomination had it not been for Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. and Thomas Dewey claiming that many of his Southern delegates were
stolen from Eisenhower. They had the party approve the transfer of all Georgia and Texas delegates to the Eisenhower camp giving him the majority and
ending Taft’s run for the Presidency.
While in the Senate Taft was leader of the ‘Conservative Coalition’ of anti-New Deal Democrats and Republicans. He also believed it was necessary
to not just stop the New Deal, which his coalition did after gaining a lot of seats in 1938, but also to reverse many of the programs implemented.
This led him to attack deficit spending, farm subsidies, bureaucracy, the NLRB, and the nationalized health insurance but he broke from conservative
orthodoxy in supporting public housing and the Social Security program. Overall he can be categorized as a ‘Libertarian Conservative’.
Even though he is remembered most for opposing the New Deal it was the non-interventionism that he spoke in favor of that garnered a lot of attention
in the 1930s. Taft did not support US intervention into European affairs even when WWII broke out he opposed giving weapons and ammunition to Great
Britain. But when Pearl Harbor was attacked he voted in favor of a Declaration of War against Japan. And it was with this non-interventionism that he
angered the Wall Street backed part of his party the most.
Taft even opposed the Nuremberg Trials as victor’s justice, condemning them entirely and leading to a mention in John F. Kennedy’s book
‘Profiles in Courage’ where he applauded Taft’s stand in the face of enormous criticism. One more important issue regarding Taft was his
involvement in the creation of the Taft-Hartley Labor Act, seen by most labor unions even to this day as the greatest set back in labor authority in
this nation, separating us from European growth of unionism. And finally Taft criticized NATO as provocative to the Soviets, an issue which is
generally regarded as one of the fundamental concepts leading to the death of the ‘Old Right’ to the National Review Neo-conservatism because they
opposed fighting the Cold War.
“I have never felt that we should send American soldiers to the Continent of Asia, which, of course, included China proper and Indo-China, simply
because we are so outnumbered in fighting a land war on the Continent of Asia that it would bring about complete exhaustion even if we were able to
win. ... So today, as since 1947 in Europe and 1950 in Asia, we are really trying to arm the world against Communist Russia, or at least furnish all
the assistance which can be of use to them in opposing Communism.
Is this policy of uniting the free world against Communism in time of peace going to be a practical long-term policy? I have always been a skeptic on
the subject of the military practicability of NATO. ... I have always felt that we should not attempt to fight Russia on the ground on the Continent
of Europe any more than we should attempt to fight China on the Continent of Asia.”
So, Ron Paul, the Bourbon Democrat and Old Right Republican; somehow I already knew this even without him telling me.