The Libertarian Party's message of economic and personal freedom was brought to Utahns Wednesday night by the party's presidential candidate, Ron Paul.
Welcomed by the shouted chant of "Ron Paul, ABC!" the candidate spoke to about 150 people in the Hillside Intermediate School, 2375 Garfield Ave. The "ABC" part of the chant refers to the Libertarian Party's support of the three tax-limitation initiatives on the ballot."It's a great state. Too bad you have too many taxes here," Paul began.
He cited Utah as one of the party's "target" states, where he hopes to receive more votes and more media coverage.
"I'm depending on the state of Utah to make a real difference," he said.
Other Western states Paul counts as significant to the party are Wyoming, Montana, California and Alaska. He believes New Hampshire and Vermont are also showing promise for the Libertarian Party.
In Utah, the only town with a Libertarian majority is Big Water, Kane County. Libertarian Alex Joseph is mayor of the polygamist settlement, and the City Council members are predominantly Libertarian also. The town newspaper, owned by Joseph and one of his plural wives, has endorsed Paul for president.
Paul said the American public has become disgruntled with the major political parties, calling them "the single Democrat-Republican option." Contending that both candidates have a "flawed philosophy," Paul said "conservatives no longer defend economic liberty and liberals no longer defend civil liberty."
"The other two candidates are not believable. People are sick of it," he said.
Paul listed some of the Libertarian Party's remedies to national ills such as the national debt, the trade deficit and drug abuse. If elected, Paul said he would eliminate personal income tax and the IRS and balance the budget by closing several federal departments, including the Departments of Education and Agriculture.
Another solution to the deficit is to end all foreign aid, said Paul. He also believes all armed U.S. troops should be taken out of Europe and other areas and that the United States should stop spending money defending other countries such as Japan.
"Why don't we just come home and mind our own business?" he asked.
Minding our own business begins at home, and the Libertarian Party believes in total personal freedom, short of harming another person, Paul said. His comments on legalizing drugs that are now seen as a huge social ill drew only lukewarm applause from the audience that had cheered his other remarks.
"I'm predicting a total failure of the war on drugs," he said in a short interview after his speech. Paul likens drug-enforcement efforts to the government's attempt to enforce prohibition laws in the '20s. He feels personal choice includes personal responsibility for those choices.
Despite a lack of attention from national news media, causing "difficulty in getting our message out," Paul said he is optimistic about his party's role in future races.
"We are going to be the wave of the future and the dominant party in the 1990s," he said.
Paul is a former four-term Republican congressman from Texas.