If Elected President, Would Ron Paul Be Able to Reduce the Size of the Government?
Ron Paul claims that the primary reason he wants to take the Office of the President of the United States is to reduce the role of the Federal government and to install a libertarian government that will limit its own power and instead promote the power of the people. This claim has brought him the adoration of man Republicans and Libertarians and the admiration of many more for his strong commitment to his morals and ideals. Based on his voting record in Congress, Paul can back up his commitment to his beliefs, but if he really were President could he and would he accomplish his agenda?
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Ron Paul’s political beliefs rest on the libertarian principles of minimal government intervention. Under the idealized form of Ron Paul’s government, government interference would be limited only to national defense and the most basic provision of social services, such as roads and police security. Never mind the feasibility of such a government, a more interesting question is whether Ron Paul would actually live up to his word once he is in office and attempt to establish a truly libertarian government.
If one looks at history, it is very hard to find examples of leaders who gave up power. Struggling to come up with names, we tried to look throughout history for leaders who promised to reduce their power and actually kept it. It was very challenging, and the best we came up with was Gorbachev, and George Washington. One has to assume therefore that Ron Paul would literally be one in a million (or more), if he kept his pledges to cut spending.
Perhaps the most important point here isn’t whether Ron Paul is or is not lying. Based on his past record, he seems to be genuinely committed to establishing a Libertarian government. If he gained the high office of President of the United States, he would most likely start by trying to establish his government, but “coalition” politics is messy and big words often result in main-stream actions and run-of-the mill policies.
The same could be said of Barack Obama who rode into the Capital with the promise of radical reform and changing the entire culture of doing business in D.C. Certainly, he seems to have tried in earnest, attempting to limit the influence of lobbyists on his administration and attempting to pass numerous reforms. As time has gone on, however, many of his polices now look like the same old “compromise” policies. For example, despite his high-minded rhetoric of reducing the United States’ international role as a police force the recently released book “Confront and Conceal” has pointed out numerous instances of him expanding American influence in the same way as his predecessor George W. Bush.
Chances are, Ron Paul would go through the same process. His initial policies would stay true to his word but as time passed and support waned, Paul would be forced to moderate his positions to build consensus among Congress. While many of the policies would appear at face-value to be adhering to Paul’s personal beliefs, the end result would almost certainly be less than perfect.
Just as Barack Obama’s policies are now littered with private interests, tie-ins, and pork barrel politics, every attempt to cut government spending and roll back federal power would include back doors that would allow politicians and private interest groups. The simple fact of that matter is that Ron Paul would never be able to build the consensus necessary to drive his policies into law and would have to cater and compromise.
Faced with these results, it’s likely that Ron Paul would not just lose his idealism, but would also begin to wield his power to try and push his policies through and to accomplish his own agenda. In many ways this would completely undermine his political stance. Like many politicians faced with the limitations of his own power, Paul would stand a great chance of succumbing and compromising on his core beliefs.