Joe Scarborough: I voted for Ron Paul
Joe Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman and current host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, explained yesterday in his column at Politico that he couldn’t bear the thought of casting his ballot for Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum, so he voted instead for Ron Paul:
I operate on instinct. So I should not have been surprised by my own gut reaction to the absentee ballot that lay before me on the kitchen table.
I scanned the list for Republican primary candidates and let instinct take over.
Mitt Romney? Not on your life. A big government Republican who will say anything to get elected.
Rick Santorum? No way. A pro-life statist who helped George W. Bush double the national debt.
Newt Gingrich? Ideologically unmoored. A champion of liberty one day, a central planner the next.
Ron Paul? Yep. I quickly checked his name and moved on to a far more complex task: fixing my daughter a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
After spending six months analyzing each candidate’s every move for three hours a day, five days a week, it never occurred to me that my decision to vote for the quirky congressman from Texas would happen as fast as a tornado whipping through an Amarillo parking lot. After all, who would vote for a candidate that criticized the killing of Osama bin Laden, blamed U.S. foreign policy for Sept. 11 and wants to abolish Social Security?
But I also would never vote for a GOP candidate who was the godfather of Obamacare, or another who added $7 trillion to Medicare’s debt or yet another who bashed Paul Ryan one week and venture capital the next. Faced with this truckload of big government Republicans, I cast my vote for the only candidate who spent his entire public career standing athwart history yelling “stop” to an ever-expanding centralized state.
While Romney was distancing himself from Ronald Reagan, Paul was fighting with Republicans to balance the budget for the first time in a generation. While Santorum was supporting an unprecedented expansion of entitlement spending, Paul was warning of a great recession that would be caused by government interference in the housing market. And while Gingrich was talking about how he would build up the federal government to push his conservative agenda, Congressman Paul spent all his waking hours focused on dismembering that big government beast.
Do I think a Ron Paul presidency is ever possible? No, I don’t. But I do want some of the Pauline virtues of candor and non-poll-tested conviction to play a larger role in our politics.
So now I’ve cast my protest vote. It felt good.
Believe me, I know how this feels. Despite some of my Republican friends pushing me to get behind their “guy” — usually Romney or Gingrich, who carried my home state of Georgia, I just couldn’t vote for candidates that I knew would govern counter to the principles in which I believe.
None of them were going to deal with the budget in any serious way. None of them were going to keep government out of the private lives of Americans. And none of them had an ounce of principle. That’s why I voted for Ron Paul on Super Tuesday.
Much like Scarborough, I knew that Paul winning was highly unlikely, despite the frequent ramblings of his most hardcore supporters telling me otherwise. Even if I didn’t always agree with everything he said — issues that were few and far between — or the actions of a small number of his supporter, but the limited government, constitutional point of view is something I can always get behind.