This article was originally published at americanchronicle.com on Sept. 27th, 2008
A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about Ron Paul´s ability to raise money and Bob Barr´s failure to do so. In the course of that article I expressed my impressions of some of the other third party candidates in a not too favorable light. This was also an expression of my frustration and anger at the system which removed the candidate I most supported, the candidate I feel would provide the best leadership for this nation. In my mind Ron Paul is still the most principled, viable candidate put forth by any political party in this election season, but I begin to question the wisdom of my plan to write him in on a ballot where it almost certainly would go unnoticed. The thought of writing "This ballot intentionally left blank" as a protest and a show that I reject the government´s rule over me and no longer consent to be part of the system seemed an even better alternative, but the ballot is anonymous and so I must wonder if it would really accomplish anything at all except maybe give some bureaucrat a good laugh. This left me to re-examine the choices I had left.
I explained my impressions of other third party candidates in an earlier article and promised I´d dedicate an article to Chuck Baldwin. This is mainly because of the pro Chuck Baldwin emails I received after I wrote the first article. Many of his supporters were adamant that he is a strict constitutionalist, but I had my reservations. I was under the impression that he advocated government intrusions into our bedrooms. I was under the impression that he was in favor of federal laws that would try to moderate personal behavior. Perhaps this was due to his being a pastor of a Baptist church. Perhaps it was due to the Constitution Party´s platform. In any case, I was shown that my impressions were mistaken.
There were a couple particular Chuck Baldwin supporters who wrote me very articulate and persuasive emails. They were very polite in asking me to explain in greater detail my misgivings and then in responding to explain their positions and point out my misconceptions. I told one respondent that I felt he was a good writer and that he should publish his point of view in an online publication or blog. Mr. Baldwin has been largely ignored by the mainstream media and his campaign just hasn´t attracted the type of attention Ron Paul´s campaign managed. I believe this is because Ron Paul is a part of the establishment, like it or not, although the establishment does everything it can to keep his voice from being heard. Mr. Baldwin, like all third party candidates, faces an unfair system geared toward keeping the powerful establishment in power and a biased media geared toward doing its best to silence any other significant points of view. This, in my humble opinion, is the sad truth of our modern political process.
Politics is a dirty business. I don´t know if this has always been true, but it´s certainly been true for much of mankind´s written history. It attracts people of questionable character. It attracts those who wish to wield power over others. This is just the nature of the beast. That is one reason I find it difficult to trust anyone involved in politics. It is easy to smear a candidate. It is easy to accuse him of being crazy, a theocrat, a neocon, a bigot, an extremist of some sort or any number of undesirable things and many people will hear such accusations and believe them without question. I am not beyond such failings, for I am as human as anyone else. Ron Paul had to overcome such obstacles in his run and did an excellent job of it when he was given the opportunity. It is difficult to overcome such labels if one is never given the opportunity to explain one´s positions to a large audience. Third party candidates will not get the chance to participate in debates with Obama and McCain, will not get news coverage every time they open their mouths to speak like the two establishment candidates and will not get the exposure the establishment puppets have the privilege of receiving. This is not only unfair and unfortunate, but it also leaves voters believing they have to choose between two undesirable choices, to put it nicely.
I had a correspondence with a woman named Teri Owens. She is the State Secretary for the Constitution Party of Ohio. She was quite polite and I felt honored that she respected my opinion enough to make the effort to change it. I told her specifically that I had thought Mr. Baldwin supported a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman and that he wanted to ban stem cell research in the United States. I pointed to Mr. Baldwin´s own campaign website as evidence of this. She assured me that he wasn´t for such an amendment and pointed me to a quote of his where he spoke against the constitutional amendment. She also pointed out that he was simply against funding stem cell research with federal dollars (something I agree with) not against the private sector pursuing such research and using their own money to do so.
I answered Ms. Owens´ email with a request for links to videos and articles to help clarify Mr. Baldwin´s positions. I also asked her what his position was on the war on drugs as I had heard he was a big drug warrior. More specifically, I asked her about his position on medical marijuana. Ms. Owens happily provided these. Here are some excerpts from her email:
"Here is what Chuck has to say about the "drug war":
"I believe that as president, I would have the responsibility to keep drugs from crossing the borders, and I would do ever[y]thing in my power to keep drugs out of America. Once they come into the country, drug enforcement falls under the rubric of law enforcement, and the Constitution gives no authority to the federal government for domestic law enforcement. That is the responsibility of the state and local communities. So I believe that the drug war has been used by the federal government many times excessively, to the point where individual rights have been abridged and abrogated. I think the propensity for overreach is too great."
(Author´s note: This means he would do away with the DEA, which is an improvement to what the two "major" party candidates would do, as they would do nothing)
With Regard to Medical Marijuana
This also falls within the jurisdiction of the states and you can see from his response that he recognizes the limitations of the Federal government. Here is a clip:
"I think that's a states' issue. I don't think the federal government should have anything to do with that...I think those are states issues and I respect that."
"The federal government has no Constitutional provision to regulate or restrict the freedom of the people to have access to medical care, supplies or treatments. We advocate, therefore, the elimination of the federal Food and Drug Administration, as it has been the federal agency primarily responsible for prohibiting beneficial products, treatments, and technologies here in the United States that are freely available in much of the rest of the civilized world."
With Regard to Marriage:
In the same interview with The New American Magazine referenced above, Chuck Baldwin states:
"I support DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act."
The Defense of Marriage Act used Congress's constitutional authority to define what official state documents other states have to recognize under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, to ensure that no state would be forced to recognize a "same sex" marriage license issued in another state. The other side of that coin is that if a state chooses to recognize same sex marriage, Baldwin admits there is nothing that he, as President or the Federal government in general is "Constitutionally" permitted to do about it.
"If a federal Marriage Amendment was enacted all that would do would [be to] authorize the Supreme Court to meddle with it, and by the time the Supreme Court would be done with it, it could be something far more monstrous than what the pro-life and pro-family people would want. I don't think that's a good idea. I don't think that's a necessary approach."
With Regard to Embryonic Stem Cell Research
"Only those duties, functions, and programs specifically assigned to the federal government by the Constitution should be funded. We call upon Congress and the President to stop all federal expenditures which are not specifically authorized by the U. S. Constitution, and to restore to the states those powers, programs, and sources of revenue that the federal government has usurped." " (end quote)
One of the wonderful things about Ron Paul´s presidential campaign was his ability to spread the message of liberty to so many. He was already a popular congressman in Texas and already had a reputation on capital hill being known as "Dr. No." He had a twenty year voting record under his belt and so his supporters could be certain he meant what he said. He was able to get into the debates and grappled with the establishment candidates extremely well. The common folk of this country came to know and support him because he was genuine, not because he made promises to them or tried to make them feel good. He didn´t pretend to be their savior. He simply remained honest and delivered the same message he had delivered for decades. And the Republicans rebuked him for that. Mr. Chuck Baldwin does not have that luxury. He has no voting record for us to look at. I looked at the Constitution Party´s platform and made some assumptions about him, but that was not fair. He doesn´t necessarily agree with the Constitution Party´s platform on all issues. Certainly Ron Paul didn´t agree on the Republican Party´s platform on all issues and I didn´t judge him because he is a Republican. I now chose to show the same courtesy to Mr. Baldwin. In some spots his stances might not be clear, and I believe that some of his words are carefully chosen to obfuscate in order to attract the maximum amount of voters, but that is the nature of politics. If one is willing to forgive these minor transgressions than certainly one would consider voting for Mr. Baldwin. Ron Paul has now endorsed him, and that certainly has a lot of pull in my book. One thing is definite, Chuck Baldwin is a superior choice to either Barack Obama or John McCain, or for that matter any of the socialist third party candidates we are presented with.
I´m still uncertain as to exactly what I will do when it comes to voting this November. As I´ve been shown these last couple of weeks, there´s always room to reconsider if one is willing. This world is in constant flux and one never knows what information may be revealed in the next few weeks. For right now, Chuck Baldwin is high on my list of possibilities.