Ron Paul gets applause in the Republican debate for stating the obvious

Paul says what we all know: the number of people interested in doing heroin is not going to be radically greater if we decriminalize it, especially on the federal level.

And here is a long video with a number of questions and responses, but the money section starts at about the 8:00 mark, when former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson baldly states that he thinks our timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan should be “tomorrow.” He also says he thought invading Iraq was a bad idea from the beginning, and he doesn’t think we should be in Libya.

Later in the same clip, at about 11:45, Ron Paul says we shouldn’t be holding people in military prisons for years and years without due process.

Look, even if he gets on the ballot I’m probably not going to vote for Paul, or for Johnson. There are a lot of things in their particular libertarianisms I don’t agree with. And I know the smart money’s not on either of these guys — conventional wisdom says they’re both too ideologically pure to capture the middle. But I’m impressed that they are able to say what even supposed lefty President Obama appears to be unable to say now that he’s in office: that we waste untold capital and cause untold suffering with our failing “War On Drugs” at home and our unnecessarily broad “War On Terror” overseas.

I’ve been wondering for a while what version of libertarianism I could get behind. I think it goes something like this: Criminalize as few things as possible. Put as few people in jail as possible. Fight as few wars as possible. And even if I don’t end up wanting to vote for them, I’m grateful to Paul and to Johnson for at least stating those principles clearly. I hope they reframe the debate on the Republican side, at least a little, because I have no interest in hearing people like Rick Santorum justify Bush-era foreign policy failures and clamor for war with Iran for another 18 months.

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