One doesn’t have to agree with all of Ron Paul’s libertarian views to admire his principled anti-interventionism and opposition to America’s eternal wars: clearly his foreign policy positions intersect at the point where character meets ideology. In this interview with USA Today, he responds to the ever popular if-only-Paul-would-moderate-his-‘isolationism’ meme:
“His poll status has attracted fire from his Republican opponents, who have criticized his views on Iran — he opposes a U.S. strike to stop their nuclear ambitions — and Israel, which he says no longer needs U.S. foreign aid. They’ve called Paul ‘outside the mainstream’ for those and for calling for the speedy removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
“Paul cares little for calls that he ‘go more moderate’ on foreign policy. He is who he is. ‘That would be the last thing I’m going to do … water down my beliefs.‘
“‘Others have argued ‘Oh yeah, if Ron Paul would just go more moderate on this foreign policy all of the sudden he would get a broader audience’ and that’s isn’t it,” he said. ‘The more I’ve been talking about what I’ve been saying for a long time, the more people we have joining us.‘”
This is the same argument I make in my Friday column on the subject of “Ron Paul and the Future of American Foreign Policy” — that Paul’s success has changed the discourse inside the GOP and the conservative movement, and transformed the political landscape. His Iowa surprise debunks the myth of a monolithic militaristic “conservatism,” which hasn’t been the case since the implosion of the Soviet empire — and really never was the case, since libertarians dissented early on from their conservative cousins’ enthusiasm for nuclear war with the commies.
What has charmed millions about Paul is his purity, and I don’t just mean ideologically. It’s his insistance on emphasizing precisely what is supposedly “controversial” about his candidacy — because he recognizes its moral importance as well as its centrality to his own worldview. How unlike a politician can you get?