Paul or nothing?

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24 Responses

  1. idgiepug says:

    As an atheist and “bleeding-heart liberal,” I clearly cannot explain the appeal of Mitt Romney. I would like to know more about your support of Ron Paul, however. How do you actively support someone who has spread such racist, survivalist vitriol in the fairly recent past? I know he claims that he didn’t write it, but he published it under his name, so he either endorsed it or was too lazy (or stupid) to proofread it beforehand. I’m not trying to accuse you of anything; I’m genuinely interested in how someone like you reconciles yourself with Ron Paul’s rather unpleasant past.

    By the way, despite my aforementioned liberal atheism, I read your blog regularly and find your family’s story to be inspiring and entertaining. I accept people who have faith in a higher power, and I respect them for it even though I don’t share their beliefs. I also respect that you feel compelled to vote from a place of faith, but I just can’t understand how ANYONE could support Ron Paul.

    • John says:

      Thanks for responding; even if I didn’t explicitly invite Obama’s supporters into this comment fray, I’m always happy to hear from them as well. A big chunk of my family is also both atheist and bleeding-heart liberal, so I like to think I know where you’re coming from 😉

      And to be totally honest—and thus possibly reveal I’d make a terrible politician—I haven’t totally done my homework on those allegations. Probably because I wasn’t for Paul the whole way through; at the time I was either for Hermann Cain or somebody else. Maybe if the media had stuck to the story and kept talking about it we’d have both heard something from Paul directly, but they chose to ignore him altogether instead. But here’s my off-the-cuff response:

      Racism seems like a specific application of xenophobia in general, and Ron Paul’s foreign policy is pretty much as far from xenophobic as you can get. Even on the domestic side, he’s all about equal opportunity under the law. I’m not totally discounting the problems in the stories you’re referring to, but intuitively, something isn’t adding up. For a guy who’s typically very consistent with his message about individual liberty, this is one of those stories that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
      But let’s just assume the worst is true. He’s a man, not a messiah. Obama is frequently race-baiting. And Attorney General Eric Holder is clearly a racist. After three decades in public office, is this all we can throw at Ron Paul that will stick? I mean, I hope this will not sound totally insensitive, but racial insensitivity sounds like a pretty petty matter in an election year when our national debt has surpassed 100% of GDP for the first time in our history. I have the same feeling about this issue of gay marriage which was completely manufactured by the Obama campaign earlier this week. Is that really what the 2012 campaign is going to be about? Um… really?? It is completely insane to me how both major party establishments get the media all wound up around divisive social issues as a smokescreen, convincing the opiated masses that that’s somehow more important than generational theft.

      One of the things I like the most about Paul is how his ideas derail us from the same tired old left vs. right polarization and wake us up to the reality that the real issues of our age are pitting the power hungry (both government and corporations) against the people. You may be a lock for Obama, but I know there are quite a few on the left end of the spectrum that have embraced Paul over the whole issue of personal liberty and military restraint.

      I will do more research on the race charges laid on Paul. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Angela says:

    I may not share your faith, but I have always wanted the best for your family, and I continue to do so.

    Also, I’m Canadian, so I won’t be voting for Romney or Paul. 🙂

    Ron Paul stands by this, about victims of sexual harassment:
    “Why don’t they quit once the so-called harassment starts? Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended, but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem?Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable.”

    What are your views? If a woman you cared for told you that she was being harassed, do you think she should quit a job she perhaps loves, and not seek justice? Would you think she has some responsibility for being harassed?

    • John says:

      I *think* that, after reading that statement (and understanding where Paul is coming from with regard to the Constitution and limited powers) what he means is this:

      Workplaces have employee codes of conduct. Taking a peace-making approach to conflict resolution (sexual harassment or otherwise) would start with communication with the harasser directly. If harassment exists, workplaces have employee codes of conduct, and procedures for redressing employee conflict. (If the hypothetical workplace doesn’t, then that’s poor management which will be reflected in many ways, and yes, she should leave!) There are appropriate ways of handling conflict, and perhaps invoking federal civil rights legislation (invoking federal anything!) isn’t one of the most responsible ways of handling it.

      • JD says:

        I usually refrain from jumping into your discussions … but, if Ron Paul suggests that a sexual ‘harassee’ has some responsibility for the problem in all or even most cases he is WRONG. That is, unless he is saying the harassed individual for failing to report it.
        I’ve had to deal with a few such situation. The individual should make sure that they are doing anything to bring about the behavior, then if not, document the incident(s), report it to their supervisor, and document the act of reporting. Depending on the situation, the initial remediation may be counseling, with separation and/or discipline (up to and including termination of the harasser) if the behavior is blatant. At times the harassment may have been directed at more than one individual.

        If then the situation is not addressed and such actions continue, the individual should consider reporting to a higher level of management, again documenting the behavior and their response. If there is still no resolution, the individual is justified in leaving if they find it unbearable. But at that point, whether they stay or leave they are also fully justified in at least considering legal action.

        If the employer has a position that is Chief of Personnel or one comparable to an Inspector General reporting to them should also finally provide resolution and protection.

        • John says:

          Thanks, J.D. You’ve spent a great deal of your career in management with all sorts of personnel issues, so I’m sure you know the proper protocol. But I also think you’re making Dr. Paul’s point: the harassed has a responsibility to stand up for themselves and go through the appropriate steps to resolve the conflict. And federal law doesn’t need to have any place in resolving workplace conflict.

  3. Chris P. says:

    In a brief dalliance with libertarianism, I supported Ron Paul for president in ’88, up to the point where I heard what he had to say on the gold standard then (a position somewhat softened now, arguably to the point of coherence, but not provably so).

    What I quickly realized was that libertarians were ideologues in favor of radical change, sometimes progressive sometimes not, in domains where ordinary, slow, progressive politics probably makes more sense for a stable world power.

    Occasionally Ron Paul is the only guy on the panel telling the simple truth, e.g. that in the minds of the 9/11 attackers the US was an oppressive neocolonialist state operating with a heavy hand in the Middle East or that, even if I’m a de facto teetotaler and a huge fan of no smoking ordinances and anti-DUI laws and stuff like that (which I am), there are probably circumstances where allowing marijuana use would be fine, as long as you’re not, like, incidentally intoxicating minors in your home.

    But on these and other issues, it’s also generally true that letting things evolve slowly is probably prudent. A vote for any status quo candidate actually is a vote for conservatism. That is, literally, what conservatism means, not the ideologies of the moment with which we happen to associate it.

    Obama and Romney are both essentially status quo candidates. Obama leans a little social progressive, and I happen to prefer that. Romney leans whichever way the wind blows, but not too far, and winds up sitting just right of center most of the time. Either one is a solid vote not to really rush into anything that at least 40% or so of the population wouldn’t support.

    Paul too often aims at goals with way, way less support–not really a politician but an idealist beating some weird drums. On some points, he makes Dennis Kucinich look like a centrist.

    • John says:

      Hey Chris! For a moment I didn’t recognize this was you behind your fancy new email address.
      You can use whatever definition suits you for “conservatism”; it means a wide variety of things for different people. For me, the U.S. Constitution is going to be the anchor (even though I don’t believe it to be God-inspired like the Mormons). So when the status-quo is to basically Constitutionally illiterate, the conservative action is to fight back and replace the status-quo with candidates that get it. (Reminds me of the misunderstanding of “judicial activism”; declaring federal laws unconstitutional is not necessarily judicial activism—that’s what the supreme court is charged to do when congress ignores the Constitution!)
      Yes, Paul is an idealist. Our dire federal balance sheet demands we depart radically from the status quo. The youth of the GOP understand this, because it is their future that is at stake.

      • Chris P. says:

        Hey, I’m not sure I understand your premises. Our debt to GDP ratio went down under Clinton and remained fairly stable this decade at a threshold well below what seems to have been problematic (empirically) for other nations. And a key governing hermeneutic context for Constitutional jurisprudence is stare decisis, such that status quo and constitutional are terms that almost definitionally go hand in hand–the exceptions are rare.

        • Chris P. says:

          Hm, ok, I hadn’t actually read anything about the debt to GDP lately, and what I’m seeing via Google is pretty bad. Good thing the Iraq war is over? 😉

        • John says:

          Rare but significant. So I think a conservative position would be to view the declaration of war as a power explicitly given to the House and Senate and view see every violation of that protocol as a threat to our liberty.

  4. Chris P. says:

    Oh, as a point of comparison, here’s what an actual socialist conservative who is problematic on overregulation, statism, and debt looks like:

  5. Burgandi says:

    Hey John or Abby… Checkout sweetbabyjames website there is a young mom trying to reach out to you guys regarding her babe’s diagnosis similar to James’s…. Not sure if you check it regularly… Winnie nurse…Burgandi

    Can’t wait to learn the name of the new Gjertsen babe…

  6. Laura says:

    You know, I’ve been reading you guys since Sweet Baby James. I’ve never really felt compelled to comment until now, but I always wish your family well.

    I live in Massachusetts. For a period of time, I was without job-provided health insurance. I used Romney’s “prototype for the Obama’s train wreck of a healthcare overhaul”. It was fantastic. Everything I could have asked for, and at a price I could afford easily. I am proud to live in a state where no one is afraid to visit a doctor or a hospital due to cost, because affordable insurance plans are available to all. I’m currently in the process of applying to medical school, and the healthcare system in MA has been a major inspiration to me.

    I remember the problems you had with your Florida insurance with James ( There are no gaps in coverage here. Although I dislike the vast majority of
    Romney’s policies and would never vote for him for President, his healthcare policy prevents things like that from happening in my state. I am more than happy to have my tax dollars used to make sure people don’t have to think twice about seeking medical care. Who do you think is paying, anyway, when an uninsured person racks up more medical bills than they could ever pay in their lifetime? Since our healthcare reform was implemented, Massachusetts became the state with the least number of uninsured individuals in the country.

    So, you may think it’s a train wreck, but as someone who actually lives in MA, it’s a godsend.

    • John says:

      Thanks for the long-term following and the well wishes, Laura! I have to say, not just to you, but everyone reading these comments, that I’m a little bit surprised at how I’ve invited Romney supporters to offer me some reasons to vote for him, and so far I’ve had no takers. (Hello, Romney fans? Are you there? {chirp, chirp}) Abby thinks they don’t want me to argue with them, but I hope I’m being civil and fair with everyone who’s written so far, even those I have major ideological disconnects with them.

      Anyway, you’re not the first to remind me of our medical insurance experiences with James (and with myself) after leaving the group market into the individual market, and dealing with Medicaid. And I can understand how that seems contradictory to a free-market, get-the-government-out-of-insurance mentality which I hold. It’s one thing for the state to subsidize the medical insurance of society’s most needy, especially very sick infants and children. It’s another thing altogether to extend that paradigm to the entire population. The more the price elasticity of demand is made inelastic—which is what results with health care mandates as well as separating the consumer (patient) from the payer—the more the price goes up and the less incentive there is for industry to innovate. That’s basic economics. I believe health reform should envision a future where everyone going to the doctor knows exactly what they will owe (or what their insurance will cover) for what level of service before they request it, and then get the government out of the way and let the markets determine the price. We’d all find it a lot more affordable. By the way, after “health reform” was implemented in MA, the state had (and maybe still has) the highest premiums for health insurance of any state. Surprise, surprise…

  7. Kathy M says:

    I understand the importance of political discussions, but how about next time you sneak in an adorable picture of Valor for good measure. Like a palate cleanser! 😉
    Blessing to you and your beautiful family!

  8. Sharon S says:

    Kay, late to the party, but as you know I’m a Romney fan. Doesn’t mean I don’t have reservations about him, but I am super optimistic he will get the job done.

    My main reason for this is his history of turning around organizations, events, governments, etc… He did an amazing job at Bain and despite what the commercials would have you believe, companies were turned around, founded, etc… He also did an amazing job with the SLC Olympics which is very similar (in my mind) to the challenges he would face as POTUS. A huge bureacracy where no one pays attention to costs – he came in, took it and it’s deficit on and turned it into one of the most successful games ever… And then as governor of MA he did turn it around – left them with a budget surplus, not a deficit – and this in spite of having an overwhelming Democratic congress (70+%) – This is a piece of context frequently left out when people criticize his term in MA.

    You might not like Romneycare, but is it not better than plain ole govt provided healthcare? It is the privatized option… And I think you have to realize those were the two choices being offered.

    I too am an idealist – like with being pro-life – I want all abortions made illegal b/c I simply don’t believe any child should die. (A belief made all the more resolute after having children and actually understanding fetal development – seriously, how does anyone who has had a 12 week u/s think it is okay to abort that?)

    BUT, does that mean I would vote against legislation that would make it rarer – or that would say, make 2nd trimester abortion illegal while at the same time makes 1st legal? I would suggest, the option is better than we have now – and then people would argue that I voted for abortion.

    So I would say Romney is a pragmatist and has functioned as conservative as possible in the context where he has been. I have to admit, I do suffer from believing he is more conservative than he has shown to the world based upon the fact he is Mormon and his background and I might be gravely disaapointed.

    I also think you have to consider the wind blowing is very conservative and so I definitely believe he will move things right. Paul, I might agree with ideology wise, but I don’t think he would actually be effective at moving things to the right. To get things moved, you have to compromise. That’s just true. Paul is so set in his ideology, he won’t vote for a bill that is 90% good. You might see that as good – I don’t know if it is, if it at least moves us in the right direction. The POTUS will not have a filibuster proof Republican Senate, so some compromise is going to be required.

    And finally, I truly believe the #1 issue for the country right now is the debt. And I see Romney with 5 kids with their families and believe he knows this – and he doesn’t want their futures or our children’s to be saddled with that debt. I actually think his appearance of “moderate” will help him to get things done.

    And I honestly don’t even agree with all these no tax pledges – of course, I agree spending is the problem – not a lack of revenue, but I also think someone could propose something like – let’s go back to Clinton levels of taxation and spending – and that would be a pretty amazing thing for our country at this point. I don’t think painting yourself into a box is a smart thing.

    Anyways, I’m rambling, but of the choices, I only liked Romney and Paul – and Paul, I just think is more about ideals than getting things done. What has he ever actually passed? Not much – that’s scary. Things need to happen in the next 4 years to unwind the damage Obama has done. It can’t be an all or nothing approach, no?

    My two cents…

    PS – so excited for y’all’s new baby!

    • John says:

      Thanks, Sharon. Great comment on a number of levels. I’m glad that somebody felt the courage and conviction to take me up on the challenge that I thought was pretty explicit in the post. Although I’m happy to converse with those on the far-left, the reality is, my personal dilemma is whether my vote in the general election is cast for Ron Paul or the Republican nominee in the event those are different people. I see the uglier side of politics quite a bit, and I tend to notice when Romney’s people are scrambling and trying to subvert debate, neglect party rules, and force convention outcomes. I’m not blaming Romney directly for that, I just think to earn my vote he will have to make his case—and his supporters will have to help him make his case, as you have done—through reasonable debate.

      A turning point for me was actually when it occurred to me that the job of the president is not very similar to the job of a manager. Turning the country around has little in common with turning the Olympic Committee around. I respect Romney’s skill as a business manager. Managers evaluate projects and invest in those whose expected return exceeds their cost of capital. But what the markets need to start thriving is not a president who knows how to manipulate all its levers, but a president who understands the republic has no capital to spend apart from what can be borrowed and confiscated from its citizens. I honestly think Mitt’s idea of what it means to be president, like many who have gone before him, bear more resemblance to a monarch (much like we already have) than the enumerated powers given in the Constitution.

      It’s not scary at all to me that a legislator not be remembered with any sort of high-profile, sweeping piece of legislation. What is scary to me is armed drones flying over US soil, TSA agents patting down toddlers, the power of the president to indefinitely detain US citizens and hold them as enemy combatants without charges, the Patriot Act, Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, Agenda 21. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, they who sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither. The president has an important power, and that is to veto. I’m much more motivated to give that power to someone who recognizes the (sometimes unintended) consequences of careless legislation than someone who is made a name for themselves passing some monstrosity of a law. Like most neo-cons, Romney picks “security” over liberty on a pretty consistent basis.

      Then again, he’s demonstrated an ability to change his mind, so maybe there is hope.

      • Sharon Sykes says:

        Oh, I think a President that will only be doing vetos is appealing at all. There is so much that needs to get rolled back and if no budget is passed, the deficit will continue to balloon – which is my #1 concern.

        I would argue the Olympic Committee is very much like government with its bureaucracy – although, granted on a much smaller scale and seems like he had more authority than the President has as but one of three branches of government. Veto power would have been very useful these past 4 years, but those are now gone… And I find it funny that Romney is actually more likely to be able to overthrow Romneycare than Paul would be…

        I had a VP I reported too who told me – we don’t have to accomplish everything today – as long as we are moving the arrow (i.e. going in the right direction). An all or nothing approach will just leave us with nothing :-).

  9. Burgandi says:

    if memory serves correctly little bro #5 should be having a birthday party in a week or so joining the wonderful house of gjertsen. hope all is well and would love to find out the theme for this little ones nursery…

  10. Lisa Goodson says:

    I’m LDS and still not a gushing Romney fan. I much more in line with TEA party values. I get that we won’t elect someone that far right. I resent that it doesn’t work that way with someone so far left, ie. Our current president. I voted Paul in the Primaries. I’ll vote Romney, of course, in November. When 48% of US households are receiving some formof Govt assistance, is it any wonder who is most likely to be elected?

  11. Clayton New says:

    Wow, I love to see such a good location for political discussion. Now I read Sharon’s statement for Romney and she conveyed the same details I have heard about Romney through the main stream and some research. My overall complaint with him is that he hasn’t served us the meat and potatoes of his plan. I have reviewed independent studies on the GOP candidates economic plans. Romney did offer reduction in debt immediately which makes me happy to know it is only Romney and Paul in this race. Ron Paul offers the most reduction in debt immediately. I purposely overlook social issues because I completely feel we have larger fish to fry. Also I cannot find a better candidate to attack Obama on issues than Ron Paul. I am scared for Romney against Obama on Mainstream Television in a debate. Romney is campaigning on his differences in Obamacare but the masses are not so wise. The masses are clearly confused when they state “I thought Ron Paul dropped out” or you see votes for Newt and Santorum.

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