Ron Paul campaign badge 1988
The title of this post may surprise you, but there are currently active politicians that I do admire – two of them. Which does not mean that I agree with everything they say or do, or that I wouldn’t at times question their judgement, but it does mean that I have a great deal of respect for their intelligence, knowledge, beliefs and actions.
The first is an American: Dr. Ron Paul, congressman from Texas and candidate for the Republican party’s nomination for president for the 2008 election. Dr. Paul is the only real republican from amongst the 10 current candidates, which in today’s political environment means that he is actually a libertarian.
Dr. Paul has finally achieved both name recognition and recognition for his political beliefs as a result of the two televised Republican candidate debates. I did not see either of the debates in full, but I have watched excerpts featured on other blogs and I have read quite a few reports and commentaries on the debates.
The first point about the debates is that Ron Paul outperformed all the other nine candidates on both occasions. In the excerpts I watched, I noticed the hostility he faced from both fellow candidates and moderators, but I won’t comment further on that aspect as my viewing was limited.
The second point about the debates is how much the media has downplayed the significance of both Ron Paul’s performance and the public reaction to it. The establishment does not love Ron Paul, but they are certainly afraid of him and afraid of his message of what the United States of America should be.
Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) is the leading advocate for freedom in our nation’s capital. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dr. Paul tirelessly works for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies. He is known among his congressional colleagues and his constituents for his consistent voting record. Dr. Paul never votes for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution…
Congressman Paul’s consistent voting record prompted one of his congressional colleagues to say, “Ron Paul personifies the Founding Fathers’ ideal of the citizen-statesman. He makes it clear that his principles will never be compromised, and they never are.” Another colleague observed, “There are few people in public life who, through thick and thin, rain or shine, stick to their principles. Ron Paul is one of those few.”
Brief Overview of Congressman Paul’s Record
He has never voted to raise taxes.
He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
He has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
He has never taken a government-paid junket.
He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
He voted against the Patriot Act.
He voted against regulating the Internet.
He voted against the Iraq war.
He does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program.
He returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year…
I do not agree with Dr. Paul on all issues. According to his campaign website, he has been “an unwavering advocate of pro-life and pro-family values.” I have a problem with that, and I think it exhibits an inconsistency, because not being pro-choice goes against the ideals of personal liberty. ‘Pro-family values’, on the other hand, is just a meaningless catchphrase.
I would very much like to see Dr. Ron Paul win the Republican nomination. I will not register Republican in order to vote for him in the primaries because registering with a party goes against my personal principles. If he does get the nomination, however, I will almost certainly vote for him in the November 2008 election. If he does not get the nomination, I will almost certainly not vote at all because there is no other candidate in any party who deserves my endorsement.
The only other politician for whom I have nearly unwavering respect is Jiří Dientsbier. In 1969, towards the beginning of the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, Jiří Dienstbier was thrown out of the Communist Party and fired from his job at Czech Radio because he had protested the occupation. In 1977, he was amongst the original 242 signatories of Charter 77, which means that he was one of those who signed the charter before it was released to the foreign press. In 1979 and 1985, he served as the Charter 77 spokesman. He was imprisoned from 1979 to 1982.
Jiří Dienstbier was the foreign minister of Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992. During that time, he once picked my ex-husband up hitchhiking. Jiří Dienstbier’s name is one of those heard most often when people speak of likely candidates to become the next Czech president in 2008.
I thought about Dienstbier today because I read an interview he had given in an old issue of Mladá fronta Plus that I picked up in a café. Dienstbier is very well-spoken, extremely intelligent and he gets his message across without any drama or showboating. Some of the things he said in the interview really impressed me, but because I can’t just cut and paste this one, I am going to focus on what he said about the radar base that the Americans would like to put into the Czech Republic. As usual, apologies for my sloppy translation skills.
…and because it won’t work to get the American anti-missile shield in through NATO, they are trying it through Czech and Poland where there are – the simplest way to put it – conservative governments. What’s important is that the radar makes absolutely no sense, because if it did, that would mean that a real enemy would have to exist that could destroy the radar within five minutes. Taking out radars is the first thing that’s done in a war. If that kind of enemy really existed, they wouldn’t be talking about just a radar, but about missile bases to protect the radar, because without the radar the missiles would be blind. That would mean another arms race…
And how do you think our government sees it?
You would have to ask them. Most people who support the radar don’t know what it’s about, which is why they come up with arguments like, “The Americans are our friends, and when they want something from us, why wouldn’t we give it to them?” But then there are people who are actively promoting and organising – their ideological foundation is very similar to that of the American neoconservatives. They think there is a geo-political territory between Germany and Russia that it is necessary to protect in cooperation with the Americans… That’s absurd. Moreover, how can anyone believe that, for instance, North Korea or Iran is going to fire missiles at us? Or at America? All of the material arguments are against it. The arguments for the radar, on the other hand, are deliberately political-ideological and revive traditional Czech anxiety towards the Germans, and Russian towards the Poles and the Germans, and the like. It’s all about playing on emotions; that there could be a war within the framework of the EU is nonsensical.
Dienstbier is an expert on the United States in terms of politics and the interviewer asked him for his views on the Bush administration, amongst other things. I liked what Dienstbier had to say, but I’m not translating anymore today. I will say, however, that it is always enlightening to get a foreign perspective on your own country.