Ron Paul and the Hope of Winning.

I am a fan of Ron Paul. I was long before he ran for president. Checking out his latest issue or bill via his congressional website was something I liked to do on occasion. Thus seeing him run for president in a campaign that is garnering more and more money and attention is something I find very exciting.

I am one of those weirdos that gets enthralled with 30 second clips of Ron Paul speeches presented on the nightly news. I peruse google regularly for new articles about him and his campaign, and I even have my tivo preset to record shows that list him in their description.

That being said there is quite a bit of lunacy floating in the minds of some of his supporters. (Of course I am not talking about the obvious kooks: conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, people who tivo ron paul etc.).

Just follow any comment thread on just about any article regarding ron paul and you will find individuals who seriously believe that the "scientific" polls are somehow seriously flawed. That there will be this amazing groundswell of supporters in the primaries and that Ron Paul will readily come out the frontrunner in spite of poll numbers.

Its not that I think the polls are perfect or even that accurate. Its that I do not believe they are that wrong. Going from 3-5 percent to winning the primaries is a bit of a leap isn't it?

Its not that I think its impossible for Ron to get the nomination, it is just unlikely. I'll compare it to my predictions for Georgia to be in the national championship game which consisted of something like this:

If X team loses against a team they should easily beat, and Y team also loses in a game they are favored to win and a certain gold and purple team loses the sec championship game and no one pays any attention to what a certain other virginia team is doing... and ::Ta Da:: Georgia is in the championship game... maybe...

Laugh if you like. It came very close to happening.

You have to figure that that is what also-rans like Duncan Hunter and Joe Biden are hoping for. A sudden turn in their favor, a bad gaff by a front runner, combined with a premature exit by a few of those polling slightly better than them, and who knows?

Likewise Paul's campaign will likely benefit by sheer stubborness. Its one of those advantages of being a long shot candidate: there is no reason to drop out when it becomes evident that you are not likely to get the nomination. As you were never likely, there is no reason not to stick around and pick up supporters of also-rans, and hope the party has a change of heart.

 

 

 

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In the news, there was a

In the news, there was a story about a man who broke into some person house, threatened him and his family with a shotgun, kidnapped them, locked them in his van and drove them 3000 kilometers away and left them there. They attempted to return, but on their way home, the guy killed them with a sniper rifle. Thankfully he was finally caught and sentenced to death
Would you have consideration for this man? Would you be a fan of this man? Would you shake his hand? Would you cheer for him?
That man is Ron Paul as president, tightening illegal immigration. There is no exageration in my description of the event that would take place. Of course, when he'll do that he'll be wearing a nice hat that says "president", and he'll explain with his sad little voice that the existence of welfare leaves him no other choice.
I guess it changes everything, I mean the first guy I described is an insane criminal who would get 20 to 30 years maybe go on the electric chair. But that's because he wasn't wearing his president hat, silly me. If he wears his president hat, ethics magically change, and it all suddenly becomes acceptable. He becomes a nice person you can befriend and cheer for.
Actually the first man I described had the guts to do it himself, Ron Paul would use the DHS tax-payed employees to do the dirty work... on a much larger scale.
Ron Paul is threatening to commit a very serious crime, something ordinary people would get jailed and hated for, I don't understand how someone can feel any sympathy for this horrible person.

Arthur B for Ron P

So, in summary, Arthur, you're saying that Ron Paul would be the least criminal President in history if he were voted into office. That seems like an endorsement. You didn't make the comparison explicitly but I'm simply adding 2 and 2. Or do you believe that the US government has ever, under any President, been less criminal than a serial killer with a sniper rifle?

 

You are correct I endorse

You are correct I endorse Ron Paul for president and I'll be very happy if all the other candidates are defeated.

However I don't respect him, I won't cheer for him, I am not his fan, and I probably would not shake his hand.

What I am after is the odd Ron Paul fanboyism, some kind of libertarian Stockholm syndrome.

Signs of fanboyism

As a general rule, I expect people to cut the government and politicians all kinds of slack that they don't cut anybody else. I think that sympathy and affection for those in or near power is a proper generalization of Stockholm syndrome (whether or not it is recognized as such by the psychology profession) and from a libertarian perspective it's one of the fundamental problems of human psychology. (However, I don't think it's going to go away, because those who truly love the great leader and enthusiastically grovel at his feat are more likely to survive and reproduce, on balance, than those who have to struggle to hide their hatred.)

Given that I expect people to be this way generally, in particular I expect them to be this way about Ron Paul.

However, how does one really distinguish fanboyism from lesser-evil support? If people campaign hard for Ron Paul, does this prove that they're fanboys, or might they simply be campaigning hard for a lesser-evil candidate? Is there something in particular that they say about Ron Paul?

I think starting a blogpost

I think starting a blogpost by "I am a fan of Ron Paul" is a reliable sign  :D

Fangirl

My deepest apologies to Rainbough if I got this wrong, but technically, Rainbough cannot be a fanboy of Ron Paul, at least, not without surgery.

Constant's correct.  But,

Constant's correct.  But, nonetheless, I am a fanboy.  I don't agree with all of Paul's positions, but I feel no tension in generally admiring who he is and what he stands for. 

I've shaken his hand, and would do it again.

Could you shake the hand or

Could you shake the hand or feel friendly towards the imaginary criminal I first described. If not, could you explain why?

To succeed as a politician, you must have charisma, something that'll make people irresistibly want to like you. In a way, I feel a bit like this when I see Ron Paul, but then I mentally picture his acts outside of government sanction and the feeling vanishes in disgust and contempt.

I am sorry I mistook Rainbough for a fanboy when she is a fangirl. I wonder if girls are more suceptible to become fans than men are. I think it would make sense.

Charisma?  Are we talking

Charisma?  Are we talking about Ron Paul the Presidential candidate or the Oregon caterer?

I think the imaginary criminal's actions are clearly wrong.  I think Ron Paul's position on immigration is wrong, but it's far less clear to me that this is so.  Men of goodwill can disagree.

Shaking hand means little

I've shaken Ralph Nader's hand and would do it again, but I oppose most of what he stands for. Basically I was wandering around Washington DC with a buddy, ran into him, and forced him to shake my hand. I also snuck into the underground rail that connects the Capitol Building with the congressional offices, got into the Library of Congress under false pretenses, and snuck onto the roof of the Watergate hotel. Kind of a tourist thing, in all cases. This was pre-9/11.

Of course. I am saying

Of course. I am saying shaking his hand assuming you associate value in shaking someone's hand. It was intended to convery a generic form of respect in my example rather than the specific act. Maybe I'd shake Paul's hand under the right circonstances.

One reason why I feel so much antipathy for Ron Paul is that he is familiar with libertarianism, therefore his willing to deport illegal immigrants is an evil that cannot be excused by moral ignorance.

I shook Hitler's hand.  I

I shook Hitler's hand.  I didn't want to.  I mean I knew he was invited to that party, but who would have known he'd have time to show up?  Anyway, Franco introduced us, and I suppose twenty years of my mother telling me to shake hands upon introduction was too difficult for some political reservations to overcome.

Shaking hands

Arthur,

Don't you shake hands with others in the normal course of your everyday life? What do you think their views about politics are compared to Ron Paul's?

Evil and evil

I don't mean to answer for Arthur. I distinguish between mere evil opinion and evil acts. The former is not truly evil, only potentially evil-producing. I also distinguish between voting for evil and committing evil. A voter's complicity in evil is diluted by numbers and also reduced by the fact that he may be picking a lesser evil. This can apply to all voters because every choice may be a lesser evil based on different priorities. Finally, I know that a consistently moral President would be impeached almost immediately for treason and replaced by an ordinary politician, so that his efforts would be of limited value to the cause of freedom.

That's exactly it. Except

That's exactly it.

Except for the last part. I think a politician could be moral without being impeached. In a odd way, someone who would campaign on doing nothing in office would have a far less libertarian platform than Ron Paul given the current laws in place but, as he is not responsible for the laws in place he would not be performing any evil act. His evil would be on par of seeing a man drowning and not lending a hand to help him. A politician can be on the safe side as long as he only offers improvements in freedom.

Last but not least, I want to point out that the contempt I have for Ron Paul is not at all instinctive, it is a construction of reason. Maybe I should treat anyone with respect, including the crazy kidnapper I invented, that would be another possibility, but I feel it is irrational to treat them differently, although I am biased to feel otherwise.

Think about it

The President who signs bills endorses them. A moral President who refused to sign any would anger Congress, and it is Congress that impeaches. Furthermore the President heads the organization responsible for executing the law. Therefore he is the primary actor in the execution of law. If he executes the law, he will commit evil acts in most cases. If he fails to execute the law, he will surely be impeached. Finally, he chooses heads of the departments. If a department head commits an evil act and the President fails to remove him, then the President becomes complicity. A moral President essentially has no moral choice but to pick heads that will dismantle their departments. He will surely be impeached.

The president only has to

The president only has to veto those bills that create net loss of freedom for some people. It is possible to accept a tons of law that don't do that. Maybe he'll be impeached, maybe he won't. A good might be to choose a good supreme judge... I am not completely familiar with the federal government institutions. In France you could probably do it.

The fact that the president "heads" the organisation doesn't mean he is responsible for its behavior... he is responsible only if he has control, and the first part of your argument pointed out precisely his lack of control. Tomorrow the mafia can claim for fun that Constant is the new godfather, it doesn't make you responsible. Remember you can only be responsible by acting. Merely being the head of a criminal organization is not an action.

The president is asked by the government which person he thinks would be best to be a department head, he merely answers that question, I don't see how that binds him to the act of the head of department. Sure it would be nice or even heroic to use his power to remove a bad head of a department, but he doesn't have to. However, if If a president is asked: "should we stop immigration", he is initiating the processus and hence is guilty. If he chooses a head of department he knows will initiate violent acts, he is guilty because he could have chosen one of the many people who wouldn't.(could he?). He doesn't have to choose a head that will dismantle the department, he can choose a head that will do mostly nothing.

Anyway, maybe you're right and being president without being impeached implies evil act, but there's no way to look this close anyway. *Any* president has done things far worse and far more clear-cut that the cases we are discussing.

 

I will be impeached

Tomorrow the mafia can claim for fun that Constant is the new
godfather, it doesn't make you responsible. Remember you can only be
responsible by acting. Merely being the head of a criminal organization
is not an action.

Of course, but if I do nothing then I will surely be impeached. The primary business of government is to retain power, and retaining power is impossible without committing an endless series of evil acts. If the President neglects his role in this primary business, he will be removed from power quickly.

I, fanboy

Actually, I'm a fanboy too. He may be a politician, but he's a rare bird.

He is a rare bird, but that

He is a rare bird, but that is not my point. Could you be a fanboy of the hypothetical criminal I described, could you feel respect and sympathy for him. If not, why can you do it for Ron Paul?

I am gravitating towards an explanation, which is that we judge people based on virtue ethics and not on deontology. More on that later.

No

No, I could not be a fanboy of the hypothetical criminal.

But one of the reasons I prefer consequentialist arguments these days is that deontological arguments like yours about criminals and the like are too systematizing to be useful. If we really extended them to their logical conclusions, every single one of us is a criminal, or at least an accessory.

We live in an imperfect age upon a blighted star. Should the historians of the future look back to study our times, they'd see Jonathan Wilde as someone who advocates liberty but benefits from a powerful union. Nobody alive today other than hermits living in the wilderness would escape their accusations of hypocrisy.

When I finally gave up on deontology, I realized that it's simply useless to dwell on hypocrisy. It's our institutions that are wrong and need evolution, not our people. Thomas Jefferson is still an ace in my book even though it's fashionable to accuse him of all sorts of treachery. He lived in an even coarser era.

So when someone like Ron Paul comes along, someone who's a once-a-century politician, analogies to criminals don't sway me, as every one of us is a criminal in the modern-day political order. I'm a fanboy because he has a chance to change the institutions for the better than any person ever elected. And even if he won't have any power when elected, he'll at least be an example for the evolution that needs to happen to bring about a brighter age.

Deontology is surely not that

I might have misunderstood, but to my mind deontology isn't about refusing to shake the hand of anyone who is guilty of any crime, and consequentialism isn't about shaking everybody's hand. Both are about the identification of what is or is not right. They are not about what we must therefore as individuals do about it. To say that everyone is guilty of something (as the deontologists might say) is not to say that they must all be executed, or ejected from the party, or be shunned. It is simply to identify wrong as wrong and right as right. The Catholics get this (as far as I understand them). Certain acts are sinful in themselves. But that doesn't mean that sinners are not welcomed into the congregation.

Absolutely. Deontology is a

Absolutely. Deontology is a tool for distinguishing right from wrong. I am not saying you should treat people who do bad things badly, and deontology is not saying this either. You could have a Jesus type personality for example, and that's fine by me.

However, Jonhatan Wilde mentions that "he could not be a fanboy of the hypothetical criminal", yet the only thing he knows about this guy is that he is a criminal. It means its criminal act alone prevent him from being his fanboy. That guy might be a hero who saved starving children, Jonhatan could not be his fanboy. However Jonhatan is a fanboy of Ron Paul, which implies that he sees Ron Paul criminal act as fundamentally different than my hypothetical criminal act.

What is the difference ? Scale ? 

I don't understand

I don't understand Jonathan's position either.  He seems to be attacking and rejecting a particular ethical claim: that people who do one wrong are globally evil. 

But such a claim is no more deontological than it is teleological.  One can believe that people have rights and still believe that violation of a right does not condemn one as globally evil, that there are gradations of evil that correspond to the intensity and quantity of the rights violation.

We could apply the same ethical claim to teleological systems--let's say utilitarianism.  We could condemn anyone whose actions have utilty-decreasing consequences as globally evil (or globally un-utilitarian, if you prefer).  And that's just as silly.  But it has no bearing on the deontological/teleological debate.

The difference

However Jonhatan is a fanboy of Ron Paul, which implies that he sees Ron Paul criminal act as fundamentally different than my hypothetical criminal act.
What is the difference ? Scale ?

Not answering for Jonathan. I see a difference, which is that if you take an ordinary man and put him at the head of the government, probably not a day will pass before he uses the power of the government to commit an evil act on a magnitude which, had he committed it on his own, would likely see him doing several life sentences.

If I am fairly certain that two people are essentially the same, internally, psychologically, I have a hard time treating them as morally different. To explain my meaning, if they would likely do the same thing were they put into the same situation, then they are essentially the same psychologically. An ordinary man at the head of government is, psychologically, essentially the same as an ordinary man out of government. But the former, as I mentioned, will commit serious crimes from day one, and the latter will not commit any crimes. As I mentioned, I have a hard time treating them as morally different (since they are essentially the same psychologically). I do not condemn the ordinary man out of government. Therefore, I have a hard time condemning an ordinary man in government, even when he commits serious crimes through his position in the government, as mentioned.

A man who, by himself, kidnaps a family and then murders them as they try to go home, is psychologically very different from an ordinary man. (If you ask "how do you know" or some such thing - okay, I don't necessarily know, but we are after all talking about my viewpoint, and my viewpoint depends on what I think, what I am convinced of, and I am convinced that a serial killing sniper is vastly different psychologically from an ordinary man.) A man who directs the government to expel illegal immigrants does not, by that act, show that he is psychologically very different from an ordinary man.

So that is, essentially, the difference. Put the serial killing sniper and Ron Paul in the same situation (e.g., put them in a room with other people and give them a gun and disarm the other people) and the former might kidnap them or murder them outright, while the latter would not. It is only as the head of state that Ron Paul might direct the government to do bad things on a vast scale - but then, just about any ordinary person would do the same, because only the rarest breed is a libertarian to such a degree that he just might avoid directing the government to commit evil, were he the head of state.

If I am fairly certain that

If I am fairly certain that two people are essentially the same,
internally, psychologically, I have a hard time treating them as
morally different.

What you describe assumes that we judge people from the content of their character and not their intention. It assumes that morality is a characteristic of the person, a virtue, and not something that is measured from this action.

This is a difference, but it assumes we rely on virtue ethics to judge people while we rely on deontology to judge acts.  (I mentionned virtue ethics earlier, I think that's the key to the puzzle)

I'm not sure that's right

What you describe assumes that we judge people from the content of their character and not their intention. It assumes that morality is a characteristic of the person, a virtue, and not something that is measured from this action.

I'm not sure what "this" you are referring to when you write "this action". But if you mean, "not something that is measured from a person's actions", then I think we may disagree. I don't know if you read the final draft, but I added some details to try to clarify my meaning, writing:

If I am fairly certain that two people are essentially the same, internally, psychologically, I have a hard time treating them as morally different. To explain my meaning, if they would likely do the same thing were they put into the same situation, then they are essentially the same psychologically.

My judgment is based on a person's actions in a sense, since it is based on "what they would do" in a given situation. The difference is that my judgment is not based on person's actions considered in isolation, but relative to their situation.

this = his If I understand,

this = his

If I understand, your judgment is based on what actions a person would take in a given context. This is an intrinsic characteristic of the person because it does not depend on the context that person is in or the actions that person takes.

Let me explain, you judge a person as function from the set of all contexts to the set of actions, not from the restricted set of context he actually experienced, thus this is really context free hence intrinsic.

I call those intrinsic moral qualities virtues and vices.

Just be careful

That seems correct. Just be careful. There are different "intrinsic" qualities, and it's important not to confuse them. For example, being blue-eyed is an intrinsic quality. Somebody who always sided with blue-eyed people against brown-eyed people no matter what the circumstance would be judging people based on intrinsic qualities - they would be treating having blue eyes as itself a moral virtue. And that's a very different thing from what I'm talking about. Blue eyes are morally irrelevant. Charisma is also an intrinsic quality that is morally irrelevant, and since you mentioned charisma earlier, I am taking pains that you not conflate what I'm talking about with personal charisma or charm.

This is a difference, but

This is a difference, but it assumes we rely on virtue ethics
to judge people while we rely on deontology to judge acts. (I
mentionned virtue ethics earlier, I think that's the key to the puzzle)

You are correct. Virtue ethics is key to this question.