Vox Constitution, Vox Dei?

From our old friends at the Lew Rockwell Blog comes a link to a Statement of Faith from Rep. Ron Paul published by Reconstructionist website CovenantNews.com. In his Statement of Faith, Rep. Paul makes a rather stunning admission:

I am running for president to restore the rule of law and to stand up for our divinely inspired Constitution.

(emphasis mine)

Politicians are not known for their candor, but supposedly Rep. Paul is an exception to this rule. If he is as truthful as is claimed, then he believes that the Constitution comes from God. This should pose a serious problem to the libertarians behind him. No one needs to remind them of the long and nasty history of church-state relations, nor the reasons why Congress is forbidden from treating one religion differently than another.

It poses interesting theological questions, too. Why would God author a document which permitted slavery for 8 decades? How can mere men hope to improve it with amendments; certainly they do not know more than God, do they? Should politicians who do not follow the Constitution be excommunicated? Where does the Constitution even claim inspiration?

Although Rep. Paul will not win the nomination or a general election, it would be wise for his supporters to clarify exactly what he means. It would not make them look so good to be backing the Constitution’s righteous defender.

36 thoughts on “Vox Constitution, Vox Dei?”

  1. Holmes,

    Although Rep. Paul will not win the nomination or a general election, it would be wise for his supporters to clarify exactly what he means. It would not make them look so good to be backing the Constitution’s righteous defender.

    You are very naive. His supporters agree with him, so why would they want to clarify anything? I could easily bring 500 links that show prominent conservatives and pseudo-libertarians claiming that this country was created by God, that the constitution was inspired by Him, and that it is based on the Ten Commandments.

    So, why are you so surprised?

  2. Because his supporters are, primarily, not the religious wing of the party. They’re the small government conservatives and libertarians within the Republican Party. Many of them are openly atheist and agnostic, and among those who are not, many still support a healthy distance between state and church and would not say the Constitution was divine.

  3. Neither of us, I think, have hard numbers to back us up, but I think the vast majority of Republicans and conservatives believe the constitution is divinely-inspired, God created the US, etc. I doubt 1% of conservatives/Republicans support anything close to a healthy distance between church and state.

    Besides, true libertarians either don’t vote at all or vote Libertarian. If you truly believe in small government and want to vote for someone with no chance of winning, you vote for the LP candidate, not for Ron Paul.

    And as for the non-religious wing of the Republican Party, I doubt it has more than six members or so.

  4. Josh,

    He said the constitution was divinely inspired, not that it was in any sense the literal word of God. He almost certainly holds that of course slavery is wrong and not sanctioned by God and yet he is persuaded that parts of the document or even the general thrust of it were inspired by God. And the fact that religions have done evil is not a very strong argument against divine inspiration.

    I of course think that’s nonsense, but I also think your argument overreaches.

    Could God inspire men to some great good that they proceeded to implement substantially yet imperfectly? I don’t see why not.

    My objection is that the God hypothesis really explains nothing. As LaPlace famously observed: “Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là“.

    Libertarians interested in elections might plausibly weigh the prospect of a Paul presidency against exiting alternatives. For all his faults, and I could list a fair number, are there any candidates who aren’t likely to do worse damage to your liberty?

  5. For all his faults, and I could list a fair number, are there any candidates who aren’t likely to do worse damage to your liberty?

    Yes – whoever runs for the LP, so long as he’s anything like Harry Browne.

  6. He said the constitution was divinely inspired, not that it was in any sense the literal word of God.

    Look at the context of his remarks: they’re being published by a radical Protestant website. Perhaps he doesn’t mean the literal word of God, but it’s the standard Protestant understanding of divine inspiration, and the CovenantNews people would probably tell you that’s exactly what he means. Politicians are notorious for speaking in code, such as Reagan discussing the importance of states’ rights in a campaign speech in Philadelphia, MS. Whatever Paul may claim to mean, he knows what his audience will think he means.

  7. Politicians are notorious for speaking in code…

    And also for leading people along with vague assurances….

    Whatever Paul may claim to mean, he knows what his audience will think he means.

    I don’t doubt that for a minute. But saying the Constitution is divinely inspired isn’t a campaign promise. And if a block of voters takes it as such, so much the better for the politician. It obligates Paul to exactly nothing. This kind of head nod works for politicians all the time.

    And anyway, Paul’s comment isn’t far out of the mainstream for presidents. I think it would be difficult to name a president who would want to publicly take serious issue with Paul’s statement.

  8. Kennedy,

    You said,

    Libertarians interested in elections might plausibly weigh the prospect of a Paul presidency against exiting alternatives.

    Well, if they do, they should be brain dead not to see that a Harry Browne-like LP candidate is far better than whatever human crap the Republicans have to offer, including Ron Paul.

    Having said that, you don’t have to convince me that there is a better use of my time than to stand in line to vote.

  9. That was in the past; I live in the present.

    And why is Ron Paul not in the LP anymore? Maybe because it’s easier to get elected when you run as a Republican; maybe because the LP was too radical for him (after all, many of them want to let the wetbacks in!); or maybe it’s because the LP puked him out like the piece of barf that he is. Either way, he is where he belongs – amongst the Republican manure.

  10. That was in the past; I live in the present.

    Is that why you’ve been invoking Harry Browne?

    Harry Browne is no more the present of the LP than Ron Paul is. It’s not like the two come from different eras of the LP, the LP only ran one candidate between them and that was the VP candidate from Paul’s ticket.

    If Ron Paul decided to switch back to the LP now he’d be welcomed back with open arms and he’d be their presidential candidate tomorrow.

    Harry Browne on Ron Paul in 2002: “If I lived in his district I would seriously consider voting for him. “

  11. Let’s put this quote in its proper context:

    “If I lived in his district I would seriously consider voting for him [for Congress]. “

    For Congress, sure. I assume there’s no better viable candidate in his district. But we’re talking about the Presidency.

    And surely you noted that I had said “… a Harry Browne-like LP candidate”.

  12. You said Paul belongs “amongst the republican manure” but Browne clearly thought otherwise – he always made a strong and favorable distinction between Paul and every other elected official. Browne even had Paul write the foreward for one of his books for crying out loud.

  13. Good Old Kennedy, goes back and edits his responses. Why not go all the way and edit mine as well, so I look like the spelling- and vocabulary-challenged idiot?

  14. Fort Bragg, CA — Citing overwhelming support from his own party’s members and lackluster response to Libertarian presidential campaigns, Steve Kubby today endorsed US Representative Ron Paul’s campaign for the Republican Party’s 2008 presidential nomination. Kubby, a candidate in his own party’s presidential contest, made the endorsement in an interview from his home in Mendocino County, California.

    “I am not, and have never been, a Republican,” says Kubby, 60, best known for his work for cannabis legalization and on behalf of medical marijuana patients. “For me, the Libertarian Party has always been, and remains, our last best hope for achieving freedom through the American political process. And until recently my position was that the Libertarian Party needed to stick to its own guns, stake out its own territory. But sometimes a special situation comes along.”

    Recent polling shows Paul garnering the support of about 70% of LP members — and the LP’s front-runners, including Kubby, clustered together in the 2-3% range among those same members. That polling, Paul’s much higher media profile, and fundraising reports showing that Paul has raised nearly 100 times as much money as any of his Libertarian competitors, convinced Kubby that this is just such a situation.

    “I’m still running for president,” says Kubby. “My campaign’s first television commercial will debut shortly. I’m continuing to debate my opponents, attend public events as a candidate, and appear on talk radio to make my case. There are important things that need to be said, and I’m saying them. Dr. Paul and I disagree on some issues that I want to skyline, and I firmly believe that I’m the best candidate to represent the party next November. But when 70% of your own party believes so strongly in a candidate that they’re willing to cross party lines to support him at least until he’s out of the running, you owe it to them to back their play.”

  15. Micha,

    Recent polling shows Paul garnering the support of about 70% of LP members.

    No surprise, the rank and file LP have always demonstrated a hunger for association with anyone having anything remotely like mainstream celebrity.

    It’s really not so much Paul’s positions, the see him as a way to mainstream the party. It won’t work any better for them than in 88.

  16. Holmes,

    It would not make them look so good to be backing the Constitution’s righteous defender.

    Paul’s religious visions, real or fake, aren’t going to alienate anyone except folks like you. And frankly, you probably weren’t going to vote for him anyway.

  17. Surely the Voice from the Whirlwind, that is to say the voice of “lung,” is quite right to observe that

    “the constitution is from the f[r]eemasons and the angle in the whirlwind. lung loves the constitution.”

    (( “feemasons” might be on purpose, for “lung” is very crafty indeed! But I incline to think not. ))

    That difficulty once obviated, the rest seems plain and easy: “lung” loves the Fedguv Constitution as any adult child loves its parent, forever distantly respectful, but as to any actual here-and-now compliance with specific wishes, well . . . ah, well, eventually one grows up, doesn’t one, then, after all?

    As to Congresscritter R. Paul, perhaps even he might be, so to say, “lungized”? Anyway, what’s Paul’s problem?

    “I am running for president to restore the rule of law and to stand up for our divinely inspired Constitution.”

    Only to “stand up for it,” mark you! Standin’ up for the USA Fedguv Constitution as George XLIII Bush might “stand up for” the precedents of George XLI Bush with no silly nonsense about rashly OBEYING the inheritance from one’s Daddy with any automatic mechanical compliance it upon the next degeneratio.

    R. Paul’s dotty Planet Dilbert theory that the Great Gate of Progressive Revelation was closed as recently as 1787 grabs attention instantly, but it’s a red herring. The practical upshot is that nobody can be “divinely inspired” in 2007, and isn’t that what “we” all agree to already, this side of Usáma’s Khurasán and Dubya’s Rancho Crawford?

  18. I am not a supporter of Paul, because I consider him way too conservative. However, I don’t believe that your comment makes any sense.

    How does Paul’s apparent belief that the constitution was divinely inspired have anything to do with a “separation of church and state?” Many past and present federal leaders of the U.S. have had similar views and have not violated a “separation of church and state.”

    In case you’re confused, a “separation of church and state” has to do with whether or not public resources are used to promote any particular church [at one end of the possible spectrum] or ANY “church” or equivalent [most religions do not have “churches”] at the other end of the spectrum. It does not have to do with the personal religious views of political leaders.

    Can you say “strawman”?

  19. Paul is only partially right. The Constitution was divinely inspired, but one need to take into account the very bedrock of America’s foundation to properly understand what that implies:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”

    ALL humans possess natural rights which were granted to them by the force that THEY perceive as The Creative. Besides, the very last thing in the world that Evangelicals desire to happen in America is for the Country to return to its true religious roots. The Anabaptists (believers that baptism must be submersion, and is only proper if the person has freely consented, no babies allowed) faced a tremendous amount of persecution in colonial times as heretical proselytisers. Jefferson’s assertion of “a wall of separation between church and State” is found in a letter he penned to the Baptist Association in Danbury, CT., January 1, 1802 to allay their fears about a possible state sanctioned church with an unequivocal negative. Why do so present-day leaders of Anabaptist sects, who know the truth, deceive their flocks of sheep? The odious word for the day is antinomianism…

    As to Ron Paul’s and the Mises members’ libertarianism: it is obviously a sham, and a bitter irony, because anyone who would place the right to possess property on a higher plane than humanity’s right to exist wherever they decide it is most beneficial to them, assuredly does not hold personal liberty as the axiom from which all else political flows.

    It is also directly oppositional to the Libertarian Party Platform, which in Article IV;1 states in part: “Political freedom and escape from tyranny demands that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.”

    This bastardised right-siding of libertarian thought in America makes me exceedingly remorseful that I ever worked towards its continued existence in America. The LP sold out in the 2006 election cycle by not loudly decrying the state’s imprimatur upon acts of human torture, the destruction of the 4th 5th and 6th amendments, as well as the theft of habeas corpus, and instead incessantly whined about the eminent domain issue, which although is indeed a valid concern, in perspective is a vastly less harmful wrong than all the those previously noted.

    Again, to elevate a right to possess personal property higher than the right to be found guilty by a jury of the people in a fair and open tribunal process which strictly adhered to due process of law, before the state can strip away a human’s freedom, is antithetical to the very fount libertarianism.

  20. A great many of Paul’s online supporters don’t seem to be Christian and all, and don’t care that he is. He has introduced legislation that would prevent the feds from getting involved in in the prohibition or promotion of atheist or religious ideas and speech. Just because Paul thinks the creator that gave us our rights is a Judo-Christian god doesn’t matter one whit to me.

    I’d say the biggest thing that keeps him from getting more atheist and agnostic supporters is the fact that he is pro-life.

    I don’t see how it matters which party he belongs to. Successful organizations are not based on unity of ideas (though they often are to some extent), but unity of action. The LP’s alienation of those who it considers as being ideologically impure does not help it achieve its goals, nor does it help spread the cause of liberty. Paul’s campaign has done more to spread libertarian ideas than anything else has recently, and most of those people who are newly educated are not so-called right-leaning libertarians. I agree with Mises that, ultimately, people get the kind of government they want, and so I believe education is the best cure for the state.

  21. I didn’t think the LP alienated Paul either, but I wasn’t talking about Paul specifically.

    That should have read something more along the lines of “government can only deviate so far from the will of the people”. As long as the people believe powerful government is necissary, thats what they’ll have.

  22. What incentive do they have to learn better? I know better; but that doesn’t get me a better regime.

    There is no political return on the effort needed to improve one’s political understanding. Which is why almost nobody bothers, and why most never will.

    But there are always countless opportunities to reap short term benefits by wielding political power unjustly. That effort pays off for many, and everybody sees it paying off. Which is why many will always be hungry to wield political power.

  23. “If every person has the right to defend – even by force – his person,
    his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have
    the right to mass produce millions and millions of adorable little
    creatures to protect these rights constantly, and they should give the
    adorable little creatures donuts when they ask nice and are polite and
    let them stay up late and watch that movie about the mushroom people.”
    – THE LAW, by Frederic Bastiat, Paris, 1850, maybe

  24. “Why would God author a document which permitted slavery for 8 decades? How can mere men hope to improve it with amendments; certainly they do not know more than God, do they? Should politicians who do not follow the Constitution be excommunicated? Where does the Constitution even claim inspiration?”

    Oh, don’t be deliberately addle-headed. Marvin Gaye said that, while working on the album that included “What’s Going On” and “Mercy, Mercy Me” that he was inspired by God. No one at all took him to mean that God “wrote” his songs, that no one could improve a note of them, or that people who didn’t like them were heretics.

    It’s one thing to say something like, “There is no God, so Paul is foolish.” But you’re intentionally reading his remark in a way that says, if X is a remotely possible stupid corollary of view Y, then let’s attribute X to the holders of Y to discredit them.

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