Despite the fact that the media rarely seems to take him seriously, Ron Paul looks to be an increasingly serious candidate in the eyes of Republican voters. New polling suggests that Paul, a longtime Congressman from Texas, could win Iowa’s upcoming Republican caucuses.
“He is now leading in the state in the RealClearPolitics poll average and has a ground game with energized followers that is like to produce results on caucus night,” Jennifer Rubin writes in the Washington Post. In a year when practically everyone but Paul has been considered the “serious contender” for the GOP nod—Cain, Romney, Gingrich, Bachmann—that there’s now a new frontrunner is equal parts expected and ridiculous. But before you go writing off Paul as just another flash-in-the-pan, there are perhaps some things you should know about him, especially if you’re an African-American.
Paul, a dyed-in-the-wool libertarian, has taken many political stances that make people sit up and take notice. He favors not intervening in Iran, saying that it could lead to another Iraq war. He opposes continuing foreign aid for Israel, an opinion that places him wildly outside of the norm. But while those are indeed fringe opinions, perhaps his most fringe beliefs have been his views on race in America.
First, Paul has said before that he believes America’s historic Civil Rights Act of 1964, and indeed any piece of legislation mandating fair treatment of minorities, is an infringement on American freedom. “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty,” Paul once said on the floor of Congress, “it also failed to achieve its stated goals of promoting racial harmony and a color-blind society.”
Beyond that is a series of newsletters published under Paul’s name in the ‘80s and ‘90s that contained a number of horribly offensive stereotypes and vicious racist lies. Consider this passage: “Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."
Paul has since come out and said he only lent his name to the newsletters, and that he never actually wrote the content in them. Business Insider suggests there’s reason to take him at his word on this one, but even if we do there’s still the case of Paul’s views on civil rights. To that I’d say that Paul is a true libertarian, and being a true libertarian means believing that the government shouldn’t have the right to meddle in people’s lives, regardless of whether those people hold abhorrent beliefs.
A lot can be said about Paul, but one thing you can’t say about him is that he’s an ideologically inconsistent politician who lies and changes his mind constantly in order to court votes. What’s sad about American politics is that this is somehow considered tremendously virtuous, and not just the status quo.
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