Ron Paul is retiring from Congress, but his ideas will not retire with him. I don’t aim to canonize the man. I think his stances on abortion, immigration and free trade agreements could use some tempering. But there are a handful of congressmen in Washington who espouse some of Paul’s ardent beliefs who deserve special consideration from libertarians.
These politicians are not perfect, and many stand for issues Paul would vehemently oppose. So I don’t expect to be able to defend any one of them for too long in this comment section if they espouse positions you find personally antithetical to Paul’s policies. But many of them agree with Paul on which wars to end and which to fight.
I have awarded each politician up to six points as follows: one point for calling off the drug war; two for ending foreign wars; three for “declaring war” on the cost and scope of the federal government. These are debatable and amorphous criteria, so the only way to judge these positions is by voting record, and I have made extensive use of ontheissues.org. I did not include Rand Paul because, come on. His nickname happens to be the last name of the most popular anarcho-capitalist ever, and his last name is Paul.
Many of these Democrats opposed foreign wars during the Bush administration, but that does not necessarily mean they still oppose involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya under Obama.
10. Greg Walden, 2nd district representative Oregon (R):
To be the only Republican representative in the state of Oregon, you can’t exactly be Pat Buchanan. Granted, inland Oregon is more like the Northern Plains than Portland, but Walden is still not an entirely typical Republican. Yes, he was for Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is for Iranian sanctions. He also voted to extend the PATRIOT Act’s roving wiretaps in February 2011. Nevertheless, he is ardently pro-life, which OBGYN Paul would is all about, and anti-illegal immigration. Walden voted no on bailing out GM and Chrysler and has argued for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. I grant him a little more than a point for at least aping fiscal conservatism, and his anti-abortion and illegal immigration stances. He’s about as Paulite as most Republicans will ever be.
9. Tom Udall Senator, junior senator New Mexico (D):
The state that Bill Richardson and Gary Johnson have governed is politically and geographically somewhere between Arizona and Austin. His stances on abortion and immigration would not jive with Paul’s, but the ACLU, HRC and NAACP have all highly rated Udall’s voting record. And while he voted to allocate more funds for the war on drugs in Mexico, he voted against prohibiting needle exchanges and medical marijuana in DC. Further, although he also sponsors sanctions against Iran, he opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and called for troop pullout in 2008. I give him a little more than a point as I did Walden and think he’s about as Paulite as most Democrats will ever be.
8. Blake Farenthold, 27th district representative, Texas (R):
Farenthold represents a strip of the Gulf Coast adjacent to Ron Paul’s constituency that had been controlled by the Democrats from 1983 to 2011. So while he hasn’t been in Congress long, he looks a bit like Paul already. He believes life begins at conception and opposes a pathway to citizenship for immigrants and same-sex marriage, but has taken a stand against supernational organizations. He has argued to reassert the principles of one of libertarians’ favorite amendments, the tenth, and thinks the U.S. should not contribute to the UN automatically but voluntarily sort of as the states did under the Articles of Confederation to the federal government. While he wants a continued presence in Afghanistan and sanctions against Iran, he has demanded a balanced budget amendment and frowns at increasing the debt limit. I give him two points.
7. Jim Webb, senior senator, Virginia (D):
An author and former Secretary of the Navy, Webb has been representing the swing state of Virginia since 2007 but will retire at the end of this term. He was a strong opponent of the war in Iraq and ostensible supporting of civil liberties at home, but he voted to extend the PATRIOT Act’s roving wiretaps in February 2011. He is a Democrat so he does not agree with Paul on abortion or immigration and is no fiscally conservative, but because he represents Virginia he has voted to protect gun rights. I give him a little more than two points.
6. Daniel Akaka, junior senator, Hawaii (D):
Akaka will retire at the end of this term, but he has served Obama’s home state in a more than usual libertarian way. While he is pro-choice and favors a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants like most Democrats, so he has also opposed increasing penalties for drug offenses and spending more funds on drug control. He opposed the war in Iraq, and in 2007 called for Congressional approval before any military action in Iran. His record is less Paulite domestically. Although he says he opposes the PATRIOT Act, he voted to extend roving wiretaps in February 2011, and he is by no means a fiscal conservative. I give him three points.
5. Jared Polis, 2nd district representative, Colorado (D):
Polis, an open homosexual and Boulder resident, was recently in the news for putting DEA administrator Michele Leonhart in the hot seat about medical marijuana. He is not blindly pro-Israel and supports travel between the U.S. and Cuba. Contrary to Paul, he is pro-choice and takes a generous stance on illegal immigration. But Polis, unlike many other people on this list, actually voted against extending the PATRIOT Act’s roving wiretaps. Unfortunately, while he opposed Bush’s presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was okay with action in Libya and supports sanctions against Iran. Finally, even though he voted for the bailouts and a Senate pay raise, he wants to require internet disclosure of earmarks and ban Congressional insider stock trading. I give him three points.
4. Angus King, candidate for senator, Maine (I):
An independent from Maine is more likely to lean libertarian than most, and King does not disappoint. Though he supports abortion rights and the drug war, he also supports gay marriage and gun control. He did not develop a serious foreign policy as governor of Maine and obviously did not need to, but he admits the futility of reforming Afghanistan in November 2009. He is fond of federalism and advocates a shared federal-state approach to fighting terrorism and illegal immigration. This sort of constitutional approach is very much in line with Paul’s views. I give him four points and look forward to what he would do as a senator.
3. Dennis Kucinich, 10th district representative, Ohio (D):
It’s tough marching to the beat of a different drum on the Hill, but Kucinich does it. While many just know him for his smoking hot wife, Kucinich is the Democrat’s Ron Paul so aside from fiscal policy they are similar in almost every way. (As mayor of Cleveland, his was the first city to default since the Depression. You can read his views on the debt ceiling on HuffPo.) The LGBTQ community loves him, and the NRA hates him. He has consistently voted against military action and spending, and even voted against the PATRIOT Act’s very first iteration. He wants to relax punishments for drug offenses and lower the drinking age to 18. For me, his almost intransigent positions against the drug war and foreign wars give him a bonus point. So despite being terrible with money, I give him four points.
2. Jimmy Duncan, 2nd district representative, Tennessee (R):
While a Democrat has not represented Tennessee’s 2nd district since 1855, Duncan is no lock step Republican. Like Paul he is pro-life and tough on illegal immigration, but unlike many Republicans he voted against the bailouts. He also voted against a Senate pay raise and actually talks about the tenth amendment. And while he supported constitutionally enshrining traditional marriage, he has voted against extension of the PATRIOT Act and to end the war in Iraq. The NRA has given his voting record an A, and he has even spoken out against the war on drugs. I give him five points.
1. Justin Amash, 3rd district representative, Michigan (R):
YouTube has a video of Amash speaking out against CISPA in the House titled “The New Ron Paul of the House.” He has not been in Congress long, so he doesn’t have much of a voting record. Nevertheless, he seems to love the Constitution as Paul does. He voted against extending the PATRIOT Act and to ban armed forces in Libya without Congressional approval. He believes in as few restrictions as possible on guns and energy, and wants to keep taxes low for everyone. He has even called for auditing federal agencies to reform or eliminate them. He has not served long, but he is definitely one to watch. I give him five points, and would probably give him a sixth if he had any record on the drug war.