Here in Asheville, NC, there’s an eclectic mix of people and political views. Yes, it is a liberal, new-ager oasis, but it is also up in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. In other words, there are all kinds of people here. Equally varied is the type of folks who come to the Asheville Ron Paul meetups, and who give me a wave and big thumbs up when I wear my Ron Paul 2008 t-shirt around town. Peace activists and gun enthusiasts alike, seem to be excited about Ron Paul.
Where I consistently run into opposition is from the animal activist community. “You know, libertarians aren’t supportive of animal cruelty legislation.” Yes, yes, I do know that. But maybe there is a bigger picture here that we’re missing. Namely, that a minority demographic like ours, shouldn’t be so gung ho about the federal government legislating morality.
Consider the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), which states, among other things, that anyone crossing state lines or using the federal mail system for “the purpose of causing physical disruption to the functioning of an animal enterprise, or any real or personal property of a person or entity having a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise” is now considered a terrorist. Several activists are sitting in prison and labeled as terrorists for doing nothing more than making a speech or operating a website that talked about illegal actions against animal enterprises.
If you think this doesn’t affect regular mainstream animal rights organizations, think again. Until recently, I was on the board of directors for a 501(c)3 animal rights group, and the AETA came up at many board meetings. We were constantly questioning whether we could openly make donations to certain organizations, what kinds of demonstrations we could organize, and how to phrase messages on our website. It was easy to say “we can’t let these laws scare us out of being effective activists.” But when faced with the very real possibility of going to prison, board members became much more reserved in their approach.
Only a voice vote was taken on the AETA, so there is no record of who voted against it. But Ron Paul is on record for having opposed the Patriot Act, an equally chilling destruction of our constitutional rights, and he continues to speak out against it throughout his campaign. By contrast, every democratic candidate except for Dennis Kucinich, voted in favor of the Patriot Act, despite the fact that it flies in the face of our Constitution, which every member of Congress is sworn to uphold.
Consider also the recent court cases involving children being taken from parents who raise them on a vegan diet, or parents who choose an alternative healing program rather than chemotherapy for their child with cancer. These cases demonstrate that our entire lifestyle is the subject of negative scrutiny. They are reminders that when morality is dictated by the majority or by a vocal minority, it doesn’t always work in our favor. While it may be appealing to ask the federal government to stop animal abuses nation wide, rather than targeting many states or communities on a more local level, it keeps the door open for federal-level abuses of power, such as the AETA and the Patriot Act. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t insist that the federal government uphold the constitution in some circumstances, and ignore it when it is convenient for our particular cause.
Ron Paul has introduced the Health Freedom Protection Act, HR 2117, which leaves the choice of what to eat and how to take care of our health in the hands of the individual, not the federal government. He also opposed Homeland Security Bill, H.R. 5005, which authorizes forced vaccinations of American citizens against small pox. Maybe you think small pox vaccinations are a good idea. Fair enough. But what happens when the government decides Americans need to be forced to get chemotherapy for cancer, or feed their children animal products, or otherwise dictate what is best for our health?
I should also point out, that unlike all of the other Republican presidential candidates and unlike most of the Democratic candidates, Ron Paul opposes the Iraq war, has opposed it from the beginning, and promises to end the war immediately. I had believed that the Democrats were going to save us from this unending death march in the Middle East, but now most of them talk about staying until 2013, and even discuss the possibility of going to war with Iran.
Ron Paul has been a staunch supporter of the Constitution for his entire 10 terms in Congress. Before every vote, he asks himself whether a piece of legislation is legal under the Constitution. If it violates our liberties, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, or if it is not authorized by the Constitution, Ron Paul votes against it. He doesn’t just pay lip service to the idea of freedom. His record speaks as loud as his words. I’ve given just a couple of examples among so many, where Ron Paul stands out as a defender of basic rights that specifically affect vegans and animal activists, in hopes that it will inspire you to look further into his candidacy.
Now I know what some of you are thinking. What about Kucinich? He stands on principle. He has opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. He voted against the Patriot Act and spoke out against the AETA. I like Kucinich. I voted for him in the last primary. I like him, not just because he is vegan, but because he is honest and principled. But I’m supporting Ron Paul this time around. For one thing, it seems to me that Ron Paul has a lot more momentum on his side. But for another, Ron Paul believes in small government, while Dennis Kucinich is a big government guy. I firmly believe that Kucinich supports large federal programs only for the most noble of reasons. But at this point, I simply don’t trust our government to make noble decisions. I don’t trust them to use our tax dollars and the power we give them to improve the state of our country or the world, no matter who is in charge.
As president, Ron Paul is committed to decreasing his own power so that we, as individuals, have the power to live our lives as we see fit, and to speak out on behalf of our planet and all of its inhabitants.
If you truly believe that Kucinich can win the Democratic nomination, and you aren’t convinced that we need to restrict the power of the federal government, then stand up for your beliefs and vote for Kucinich. He’s a good guy and I’d be happy to have him as president. But if you’re still banking on the idea that any Democrat is better than anything the Republicans have to offer, take a second look at Ron Paul, and consider switching parties to support him in the Republican primary.