Quoting Maimonides and the Bible, he’s voting Paul in 2012
David Deerson went to Jewish day school, attended and worked at a Jewish summer camp and he has been to Israel multiple times. He also thinks the Jewish State might as well be in Wyoming. And he’s voting for Ron Paul in 2012.
Deerson is a regional campus coordinator for Students for Liberty, a Libertarian college activism organization, and the vice president of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill College Libertarians. His love for the limited government philosophy has made him an avid Paul supporter, but Deerson is a calmer advocate for libertarian values than his bombastic political hero.
When it comes to Israel, Deerson says his views match up completely with Paul’s. He thinks foreign aid is inefficient and easily lost in bureaucracy, and he understood when Paul allegedly said Israel should be given to the Palestinians when a viable Jewish state could be implemented anywhere other than the “hornets’ nest” of the Middle East, even in the United States or Africa he said.
“I think it [a Jewish State] has an absolute right to exist. The question is: Is it wise or prudent to exist in that specific area of the world, given the sort of geopolitical conditions of today?” Deerson said in a telephone interview.
Despite all of the negative press Paul has been getting, Deerson has been advocating for him on campus, at parties and anywhere else he can find someone willing to listen. Deerson said Paul could not possibly be racist or anti-Semitic. Racism, he said, defies libertarianism’s love for individualism, as opposed to collectivism. Plus, Deerson pointed out, Paul’s economic superhero of choice is Austrian Jewish economist Ludwig von Mises.
“The heroes of the liberty movement have largely been Jewish, so the idea of somebody in the liberty movement who respects these people but is secretly anti-Semitic seems a little bit silly to me,” Deerson said.
Deerson’s politics have less to do with his religion than with Westen political thought.
“I would say, maybe in some ways our culture is based on Judeo-Christian values, but our political system is much more based on Enlightenment philosophy of government,” Deerson said.
But that doesn’t mean the two sides of his personal philosophy are completely separate. Deerson regularly writes about the connections between Judaism and libertarian principles. On the UNC-CH College Libertarians’ blog and on the Students for Liberty website, Deerson used Maimonides to defend libertarianism’s definition of charity, saying, “According to Maimonides, those who provide employment are the most charitable people. It isn’t the politicians and the bureaucrats who have the moral high ground, but the innovators and the job creators.”
Deerson also posted an excerpt from the biblical book of Samuel, where the eponymous prophet warns against the Hebrews’ desire for a king, equating that desire with the overbearing government influence that libertarianism stands in opposition to. Deerson quoted Samuel: “He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.”
“As far as Judaism goes, it’s an incredibly ancient religion, and I think one of the beauties of it today is that you can really interpret it in any way you want,” Deerson said.
Zach C. Cohen is the New Voices associate editor and political correspondent. He is the student life editor of The Eagle at American University. Zach has contributed writing and reporting to TIME Magazine, the Jewish Daily Forward, AWOL, AmWord and the Suburban News. Follow him on Twitter at @Zachary_Cohen.