Thursday, April 1, 2010

I Don't Need Your Civil War

I occasionally joke that Ron Paul is OK, except he's always one sentence away from declaring Abraham Lincoln to be a blood thirsty war monger. Today, and not for the first time, he reached that sentence: Correcting Ron Paul: Buying the Slaves Was Not An Option

Ron Paul insisted in a recent interview that Abe Lincoln could have avoided the Civil War by buying the southern slaves from the southerners. Paul argues that Lincoln (a warmonger) was “determined to fight this civil war” that he could have avoided “for 1/100 the cost.”
Right Wing News reported, via HotAir:

QUESTION: Getting down to the last two questions here…. Most people consider Abe Lincoln to be one of our greatest presidents, if not the greatest president we’ve ever had. Would you agree with that sentiment and why or why not?

RON PAUL: No, I don’t think he was one of our greatest presidents. I mean, he was determined to fight a bloody civil war, which many have argued could have been avoided. For 1/100 the cost of the war, plus 600 thousand lives, enough money would have been available to buy up all the slaves and free them. So, I don’t see that is a good part of our history. Besides, the Civil War was to prove that we had a very, very strong centralized federal government and that’s what it did. It rejected the notion that states were a sovereign nation.

Whatta doof. As Gateway Pundit notes, proposals for such schemes were common in the years leading up to the Civil War - the American desire to solve every problem with a quick payout was ratified along with The Constitution - but were rejected as prohibitively expensive. So, no, you couldn't just "buy all the slaves" and avoid a collision between North and South. By the time Lincoln was elected, the two political "sides" in American politics - slavery/Democrats and freedom/Republicans (sound familiar?) - had gotten to the point where war was the only way to resolve their political disputes.

And you can't blame this on Paul's age or that he was "tired." This is actually a common belief, both on the Rothbardian wing of the libertarians and even among some progressives, who have developed the theory that the framers of the 14th Amendment were "redistributionists" because they "took" the Confederates' slaves (via conquest and constitutional amendment) without just compensation (as God is my witness, I am not making this up).

Paul is one of the most potent spokesmen for limited government and the moral dimensions of the national debt. But he is a problematic spokesman because he is a contrarian who feels compelled to be contrary on virtually everything. Also, if you read his last couple books, it is clear that his ant-Fed crusade is as much an anti-war crusade as it is an anti-Big Government one. Not saying we should stop listening to him entirely, but just know that you might want to watch your head when Paul is operating heavy machinery.

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