Alex Massie

Ron Pauls Libertarian Revolution

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Isaac Chotiner links to Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch's splendid piece on libertarianism and calls it pretty absurd:

I have no idea what most citizens think about smoking bans and online gambling restrictions. But I do believe they are smart enough to know that these issues neither matter much, nor are worth voting on.

Well, I don't think Ron Paul is going to win the Republican party's presidential nomination either. But I'm willing to bet that for every person who votes for Ron Paul - knowing full well that he's not likely to win - there's at least one other person who would vote - or seriously consider voting for him or any other libertarian-minded candidate - if they thought that candidate had a realistic chance of winning.

And while Isaac may scoff at voters who consider matters such as smoking bans and online gambling important (the former hardly being a federal issue after all), I'd suggest that these are in fact pretty useful indicators of would-be Presidential temperament and philosophy. No-one in this campaign has said anything especially interesting or innovative on health care or education, for instance. All the Democratic candidates want to introduce broadly similar health reforms. Fine. This is not a matter that interests me much and there isn't, as I say, that much difference between their goals anyway.

But attitudes towards smoking and gambling are interesting. They help the undecided voter understand what a candidate considers to be the limitations on Presidential or state authority. In other words it is precisely because these are not considered vital matters that they help us understand the candidate's world view and, consequently, give us a much better idea of who they are than do their ghost-written and exhaustively parsed position papers on health care or other supposedly-weighty domestic issues...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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