On the 19th my fellow blogger and friend Reggie posted an article by the National Journal regarding comments that Ron Paul made in an interview with CNN's State of the Union.
Those of us that know Ron Paul's stance on issues immediately understood what he meant when he made the comments he did. For those of you who still are new to Ron Paul and his constitutional views please read the following article as it articulates his position well.
By: Jack Hunter
The current headline on Drudge reads: “Ron Paul: Social conservatism ‘a losing position.”
This is what Paul said, but is misleading once you understand the context. From the CNS News story Drudge links to:
“Do you–are you uncomfortable–certainly Rick Santorum is the one who has been in the forefront of some of this talk on social issues, but there have been others in the race,” Crowley asked Paul. “Are you uncomfortable with this talk about social issues? Do you consider it a winning area for Republicans in November?”
“No,” said Paul. “I think it’s a losing position.
“I mean, I talk about it because I have a precise understanding of how difficult problems are to be solved,” Paul continued. “And they’re not to be at the national level. We’re not supposed to nationalize these problems. The founders were very clear that problems like this, if there needs to be legislation of sorts, the state has the right to write the legislation that they so choose. And that solves a lot of our problems.”
What Paul is talking about here is federalism–the notion that the powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the states. Abortion, gay marriage, religious expression–to the degree that the Founders ever thought that these would become controversial issues, they most certainly believed they should be handled by the states. States have their own murder and assault laws, for example. Before Roe vs. Wade, different states had different laws regarding abortion. Overturning Roe vs. Wade means getting the federal government out of what the Founders intended to be a state issue. The same is true of marriage, in which the states have diverse rules on what age you can marry, common law marriage and a host of other issues regarding marriage. On religious expression, the Constitution explicitly says that Congress “shall pass no law” abridging citizens right to free expression of religion. These were also to be matters handled at the state level.
As a constitutional conservative, this is also what Ron Paul believes. As a social conservative, this is also what Paul believes can best advance social conservatism in a real and meaningful way.
What social conservatives like Rick Santorum who want new federal legislation for everything are really saying is this–that one day they will convince states like Vermont and Massachusetts to become pro-life, to oppose to gay marriage and to support public prayer. What a social conservative (and constitutional conservative) like Ron Paul is saying is this–that we will never convince liberal states like Vermont and Massachusetts to agree with us on social issues, but this should not prevent social conservatives from saving the lives of unborn children, or defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, in states where a culturally conservative consensus already exists. Vermont should not dictate social policy to Alabama and vice versa. Ron Paul believes the best way to advance social conservatism is to get the federal government out of the way, as the Founding Fathers originally intended.
Ironically, it is federal intervention into state business on cultural issues that first gave rise to a conscious social conservatism in the United States. First, when the federal courts decided that school prayer was unconstitutional and later when the federal courts declared Roe Vs. Wade the law of the land, overturning each state’s individual laws regarding abortion in one fell swoop.
There is little doubt that both Paul and Santorum are earnest in their socially conservative views. The only difference is Paul’s constitutional approach could finally give social conservatives real victories for the first time in memory.