Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ron Paul for Congress

My second endorsement for the 2010 elections is Ron Paul, who is running for re-election representing the 14th congressional district of Texas. What can I say, if you don’t know who Ron Paul is, then you must have been hiding under a rock since 2007.

I don’t agree with everything he says, but he is the only one who even comes close to being a 100% constitutionalist. Yes, people have called him racist. They have called him weak on foreign policy. They have called him an isolationist. This is all neocon propaganda.

You can find the legislation he supports and his full voting record (and that of every other congressman) at http://thomas.loc.gov. You can find a summary of his voting record and his answers to a survey here.

Rather than go through all of the issues one by one, I will focus on one of the more controversial of his positions, ending the drug war.

Dr. Paul does not advocate abusing dangerous drugs or using drugs for recreational purposes. He only believes that banning them does more harm than good. Dr. Paul’s exact position on drugs (any drug) is that they should be completely legal for adults. He has implied on various occasions that he believes that it should be illegal to sell illicit drugs to minors. He believes that the states have the right to decide their own drug policy.

Some people might think that this is outrageous, but my rule of thumb says that agreement with the Bible and the Constitution are the most important issues. On everything else a Christian could agree to disagree. There is no clear Biblical precedent for a government to ban the possession, transport, sale, or use of a substance except in one instance that has nothing to do with the drug issue.

The tenth amendment prohibits the exercise of powers at the federal level if not delegated by the Constitution. The only possible Constitutional involvement in the drug war would be banning the importation of drugs into the U.S. but the Feds clearly have no legal authority to arrest people for possession, sale, or use of drugs. I agree with RP that this should be left up to the states.

Despite the congressman’s sweeping rhetoric on the issue, he has only made modest steps toward the elimination of all federal drug laws.

He has sponsored a bill to legalize hemp for industrial purposes only. The United States legally imports rope, clothing, and ethanol from other countries made from hemp, but we have handcuffed ourselves from taking advantage of producing this valuable resource in our own country. The amount of THC in hemp is so small that it is ridiculous to believe that anyone is actually going to smoke it to get high. The folks at DuPont are the ones who pushed for the ban in the first place, and they profited from the extra sales in their artificial fabrics and fibers.

RP has cosponsored Barney Frank’s marijuana bill. This bill would legalize the transfer and possession of very small amounts of marijuana for medical purposes. I don’t think the world would come to an end if this passed. I'm not a medical expert, but some people say that marijuana can benefit glaucoma sufferers and could be appropriate in cases where people are suffering from some sort of extreme pain, especially at the end of their life (Proverbs 31:6).

RP has also cosponsored a bill that would simply eliminate the legal distinction between crack cocaine and regular cocaine and the extra penalties for crimes associated with crack cocaine which were added some years ago.

RP has cosponsored a bill that would eliminate the prohibition of federal funding of needle exchange programs. Although the bill itself does not necessitate such funding, this is the one that I most strongly disagree with him about (on any issue, not just drug issues). The federal government has no business getting involved this issue. I think he may agree, but he is basically saying that if there is some government disease eradicating initiative, then it would be better to use it for this than something else. But offering a drug user a syringe contributes to sinful behavior and real Christians don’t lead people into temptations to sin.

None of the above laws would prevent the state from enacting drug laws which would keep the status of drugs the same in their state.

The drug laws are clearly somewhat skewed. Very addictive and dangerous drugs like Vicatin and Oxycotin are legal while hemp is illegal. Looking at it this way, it’s easy to see that reasonable people can disagree. The government just doesn’t have the ability to punish people for every evil thing that they do. We just haven’t had very good success rate at catching the drug pushers, dealers, smugglers, etc.

Even Glen Beck is saying that it would be better to legalize drugs than stick to our current policy (poor border enforcement). More Americans have been murdered by Mexican drug smugglers than by Islamic terrorists. County sheriff positions in border counties go unfilled because the resulting violence. We just don’t have the military might to fight both the drug wars and the wars in the Middle East at the same time. The period in our nation’s history called “Prohibition” proves that this type of legislation leads to corruption and this corruption is evident in the case of the war on drugs.

When RP touches on the issue of selling drugs to minors, I don’t think that he gives very good arguments. He actually suggests that it would be easier to keep drugs from minors if they were only regulated (and sold at bars and internet cafes) and not banned. I think this goes too far and it actually sound silly and makes libertarians look foolish. Of course, with any such change in law, there is always going to be a trade off. Law enforcement would able to focus more on violent crimes and some corruption would be eliminated, but it clearly would be easier for drugs to be obtained by juveniles in some cases and there would be more temptations for others in some cases.

I am not adamantly for or against laws against adult drug use. Since the Bible gives no clear direction in this matter, I leave it up to God to decide what the laws should be at the state and local level and I oppose federal drug laws which violate the tenth amendment.

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