Originally published on GrasstopsUSA.com.
Three of the Republican presidential contenders — Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, and Tom Tancredo — show promise as individuals who are largely devoted to limited government, individual rights, and sound policy. Each of them has numerous issues where their principled stances will appeal to the conservative voter base of the Republican Party. Each also has some ideas which I find flawed. To educate voters and lead to the most informed possible choices, here is an analysis of some of these three candidates’ positions.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is a staunch opponent of legalized abortion; he emphasizes unambiguously that abortion is an issue of human life and not of privacy. In an interview with Right Wing News, Huckabee said, “to somehow believe that the taking of an innocent, unborn human life is about privacy and not about that unborn life is ludicrous.” Among other hopeful signs regarding Huckabee’s pro-life position is his May 23, 2006, statement that he would have signed South Dakota’s abortion ban had he been governor of that state. Huckabee, himself a hunter and gun owner, has repeatedly shown himself to be in favor of Second-Amendment protections and, during his time as Arkansas Governor, has refused to participate in the Clinton administration’s attempt to limit the rights of gun owners and manufacturers. Huckabee also wishes to simplify the U. S. income tax structure by supporting a flat tax — a far more equitable measure than the current “progressive tax,” which penalizes productive Americans in the higher income brackets.
However, several aspects of Huckabee’s record as Governor of Arkansas cast doubt about his ability to limit the scope of the federal government. In the eight years from 1996 to 2004, Arkansas state spending rose by an astounding 65.3%, and Huckabee has personally endorsed numerous measures to raise state taxes. This empirical evidence calls Huckabee’s fiscal conservative credentials into question. Furthermore, Huckabee was influential in instituting the Arkansas educational requirement that every child receive instruction in art and music. Talk about coercion! Some children have neither skill nor interest in these subjects, and their time would be better spent developing other faculties. Taking art and music classes ought to be a matter of individual student and parent choice.
Texas Representative Ron Paul, in most of his ideas and actual voting record, shows devotion to the ideas that animated the founding of America. He has earned the nickname “Dr. No” for his steadfast refusal to vote for any legislation which is not explicitly authorized by the Constitution. He has consistently championed limited government, a dramatic reduction in federal spending, the elimination of intrusive government business regulations and infringements of personal privacy, the enforcement of Second-Amendment protections for gun owners, and the abolition of the murderous practice of abortion. Rep. Paul was the man who put before Congress the Sanctity of Human Life Bill — a daring and courageous act that would have nullified the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. He has also emerged as a steadfast opponent of the income tax and the fiat-money system, insisting that Americans keep more of what they earn and that their savings do not disappear through government-induced inflation.
Representative Paul has never supported the Bush administration’s military campaign in Iraq, which might alienate him from some conservative voters. In the realm of foreign affairs, Rep. Paul is a non-interventionist and would adhere to George Washington’s recommended “policy to steer clear of entangling alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” I do not hold to this position, and see its implementation as having a potential to render the United States vulnerable to attacks from terrorists and rogue states whose regimes harbor an unqualified hatred for Western prosperity and freedom. However, Paul’s views on foreign policy do have a chance of attracting the support of conservatively-inclined people who were opposed to the Iraq war. It is still unclear whether this stance is an asset or liability to Paul. However, if Paul were elected President, I strongly anticipate that the good he does in restricting government domestically would far outweigh any harm he might inflict by preventing U. S. military interventions abroad.
Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo stands out as another strong advocate of liberty and limited government. He has voiced opposition to the punitive and highly inconvenient income tax, proposing instead to replace it with a flat-rate tax or a national sales tax. Rep. Tancredo is also a consistent defender of Second-Amendment rights and wishes that the courts in this country made it binding on state governments as well, just as they have done with the First Amendment. Rep. Tancredo supports educational vouchers to enable parents to control their children’s educational opportunities instead of bureaucrats. Despite having served as a representative for the Department of Education in Denver, Rep. Tancredo wishes to restrict the federal government’s educational role. He is also in favor of eliminating the current unsustainable defined-benefit approach to Social Security; he would like to replace this with a defined-contribution plan, whereby private individuals would be able to invest their Social Security contributions and reap the benefits of wise financial decisions. Rep. Tancredo is staunchly opposed to abortion and desires an overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision so as to give individual states the ability to prohibit abortion.
Tancredo’s stance on the Iraq occupation is less extreme than Paul’s; he is not opposed to the occupation per se, but thinks that the Iraqi people need to take the lead in transforming the region. As such, Tancredo would like to set a timetable for full Iraqi control of all 18 of Iraq’s provinces by November 2007. This is in accord with President Bush’s desired objective, but Rep. Tancredo would like to transform it into a formal commitment. I am not entirely comfortable with this position, as it might unnecessarily shackle the U. S. military’s ability to respond to unforeseen future disturbances in Iraq and might involve placing not-yet-qualified Iraqi officials in charge of solving a problem which they have insufficient means and training to properly address.
Some elements of Rep. Tancredo’s stance on illegal immigration are also a cause for concern. Rep. Tancredo justifiably seeks to enforce the nation’s laws against illegal immigration at the borders, and I further commend him for his opposition to government benefits to illegal immigrants. Increased border security and the denial of taxpayer funds to illegal immigrants would go a long way to reduce their inflow. However, Tancredo also supports imposing large fines on employers who hire illegal immigrants, which in practice could lead to greatly increased government oversight and regulation of private enterprise. While trying to address a genuine problem, Tancredo might inadvertently end up expanding the scope of the government he wants to limit.
As an advocate of principled politics, I wish that the “mainstream media” had given more coverage to presidential contenders like Huckabee, Paul, and Tancredo; many of their ideas and suggested policies will take the United States closer to the ideal of the Founders and of numerous Americans today. Others of their stances, even if somewhat objectionable, would be excellent for inspiring meaningful and valuable public discussion and debate.