Will Ron Paul win? At the time of this writing, it is far too early to know whether or not he will become the next president of the United States. From the perspective of this point in time, Dr. Paul faces an uphill, and then a downhill battle. He will have a more difficult time winning the Republican nomination than he will in beating Obama. This is because Paul attracts people from all over the political spectrum. Republicans, yes; but he is very attractive to Independents, and even, more surprisingly at the outset, to Democrats. And, while some of the primaries are open to voters from all three categories, these elections are of course statistically biased in the direction of Republicans, and Ron Paul has no comparative advantage vis a vis his three remaining competitors, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, in this section of the electorate. That is his weakness, but also his strength; for if and when he gets the nod from the Republicans, he can attract more voters from the Democratic and Independent camps than these other three, and thus has the best chance of overturning the sitting president in the fall of 2012. In recent polls, only Paul and Romney are in a statistical dead heat with Obama. Gingrich and Santorum fall by the wayside in this regard.
But Dr. Paul is not only running for the presidency of the U.S. His campaign is also an attempt to change the hearts and minds of the more than 300 million people in America, but also the nearly 7 billion inhabitants of the entire Earth. And in this latter quest he has already succeeded, beyond even the most ambitious of hopes of his most fervent supporters.
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Walter Block’s latest book is very timely. Although it is about Ron Paul’s economic and political philosophy, its shelf life will extend far beyond the 2012 election because the issues being discussed now will continue to be discussed for years to come. The book is divided into subsections, which makes it easy for people who may not be interested in all the topics to zero in on the ones that are most interesting to them. The economics section presents an excellent overview of free market economics. The section on foreign policy highlights Ron Paul’s distinctively different views on this subject. There are also sections on personal liberty, election strategy, critiques of critics and other topics that will be of interest to libertarians and nonlibertarians alike. This book belongs on the shelf of anyone who is interested in what is going on in America today.
Walter Block is well known for his book Defending the Undefendable. In this new work, Walter presents a series of essays to “make the case for his [Ron Paul’s] occupancy of the White House. Each and every last one of these chapters is an attempt on my [Walter’s] part to expand and expound upon his [Congressman Paul’s] views, to publicize them, to promote his candidacy, to defend it against attacks from within and without the libertarian movement” (p. 13). While the book is written to defend and support Dr. Paul’s run for the highest elected office in this country, the book is important in a broader context. In these essays Professor Block does what he does best, defend the defendable; libertarian principles and Austrian economics. Readers of this book, even those who consider themselves well versed in either or both of the above, will find their understanding clarified, enhanced, or reinforced by Walter’s biting commentary on Paul’s “distinctive views on three issues; foreign policy, personal liberties, and economics” (p. 16). In fact, as I first began reading, I was reminded of a most enlightening dinner at an Austrian Scholars Conference in the late 1990s where I was fortunate enough to be sitting between Walter and Stephan Kinsella as they engaged in a vigorous discussion of various fine points and controversies in libertarian philosophy; extensions and applications of the non-aggression axiom. As the self appointed Jewish Mother of the libertarian movement, Walter, while promoting Ron Paul, does not shy away from ‘nudging’, not only his readers, but also Ron Paul. One of my favorites: "Gold. Strictly speaking, you [Congressman Paul], do NOT favor a gold standard. Rather you favor free market money: any monetary medium chosen by market participants. The reason you mention gold at all is that whenever people were “free to choose” (title of a book written by an opponent of the gold standard, Milton Friedman), as a historical fact they chose gold (and sometimes, silver). But, if in the future, under the sort of free enterprise system you will promote as president of the United States, if the market settled on copper or platinum, or indeed anything else, you would have no quarrel with that outcome" (p. 172). [For an in depth discussion see Jeffrey M. Herbener recent excellent testimony to the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology, Committee of Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, “ Production of Money on the Market”) If I could nit: the book does suffer slightly from repetition, sloppy editing, and sources mentioned in the text but not listed in the references at the end. An index might have been useful as well. However, Walter effectively explains the importance of Paul’s candidacy for increasing awareness of and acceptance of libertarianism philosophy to a broader public (something I experienced this spring as I returned to the classroom after nearly 7 years in administration). In my view Block effectively responds Paul’s critics both from within and outside the libertarian movement. Readers, like me, who have not been as active as supporters as we should have been will hopefully, stand correctly chastised and nudged to greater efforts in the future. Would that we could all do as much and as effectively for liberty as Dr. Paul (and Professor Block). John P. Cochran