A short piece on Ron Paul appears in this week’s New Yorker. I appreciate some of Paul’s ideas, but Nicholas Lemann captures, for me, two important truths. One, why if Ron Paul’s government-shrinking strategy came to fruition, this country would be a scary place to live in. And two, why he’ll never, ever win.
Paul’s vision reveals—with candor and specificity—what the G.O.P.’s rhetorical hostility to government would mean if it were rigorously put into practice. A minimal state, without welfare provisions for the unemployed. A quarter of a million federal workers—as a first installment—joining those unemployed. Foreign policy and national defense reduced to a few ballistic-missile submarines. The civil-rights legislation of the nineteen-sixties repealed as so much unwarranted government intrusion. As for the financial crisis, Paul would have countenanced no regulation that might have prevented it, no government stabilization of the financial system after it happened, and no special help for working people hurt by it. This is where the logic of government-shrinking leads.