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Friday, October 24, 2008

Question Period: Maine GOP congressional candidate on liberty, Mencken, Ron Paul, and marijuana

Frary_2 Yesterday, we started covering the campaign of professor John Frary, the Republican congressional candidate in the second district of Maine. Frary piqued our interest for a very simple reason: He's curmudgeonly. And curmudgeons, like H.L. Mencken, tend to be skeptical of government, and tend to want to be left alone.

And, true to expectations, here's Frary summarizing his policy prescriptions:

In short, my policy might be described as "Do as you please, and kindly stay out of my yard."

Intrigued, I sent Frary a series of questions, hoping that he might give Western Standard readers a little more insight about his campaign and his policy preferences. He sent me a response, which was prefaced with this: "I visit The Western Standard fairly regularly and it gives much satisfaction."

How nice to hear, professor. Without further ado, here's the Question Period with John Frary:

Peter Jaworski: How would you describe your political philosophy?

John Frary: I am a Burkean conservative, a traditionalist, but I have no hope that traditions can be preserved by the police. And, once gone, they can’t be revived. I suppose I am pragmatically libertarian. I don’t foresee, and can’t imagine, the appearance of a body of professional politicians who can be trusted with the power of modern government.

PJ: News articles about you refer to you as a curmudgeon. H.L. Mencken used to call himself a curmudgeon with pride. How do you feel about this label? Is it accurate?

JF: The term "curmudgeon" is more than acceptable. It sets me apart from the mob of professional politicians forever sucking up to the voters -- a debilitating professional deformation if there ever was one. It suggests an indifference to ‘popularity’, a thing to which I have grown progressively more indifferent as I left early adolescence far behind. My vanity has taken different, more exotic forms; like pride in being called a curmudgeon.

I was nurtured on old Henry Louis from the eighth grade, even though complete understanding came later. My father was a devotee and there were a number of his works ready to hand. Mencken would not approve of my high ecclesiastical office (Vestryman of St. Stephens Traditional Anglican Church, New Sharon, Maine) but I approve of him, with certain obvious reservations.

PJ: Which of the U.S. founding fathers do you most admire?

JF: I’m going to have to be a little shifty here (call it political license if you wish). A combination of Washington’s character and Hamilton’s intellect would make a perfect founding father. There was more wisdom in Jefferson’s words than in his actions.

PJ: What do you think about the modern Republican Party? Is it headed in the right direction?

JF: I have no idea in what direction the Republican party is heading. I’d guess that there are about 60 conservatives of one degree and variety or another in the Congress who have strong and intelligent philosophical convictions. All are Republicans. There are about 60 members of the Democratic Socialists of America. They are all Democrats. So I am a Republican.

PJ: What do you think of Texas Congressman Ron Paul?

JF: Ron Paul believes in fidelity to the Constitution to which he takes an oath. So do I. This gives us a lot of common ground, and some room for disagreement. I assume that very few congresscritters have given any serious thought to their obligations under Art. VI [of the Constitution] and only a minority have even read it. There can be no doubt that Rep. Paul has.

The gold standard preserves the integrity of money from the reckless interference of politicians, but this is a complicated question which we must leave aside.

There is a utopian streak in libertarianism that believes in final solutions to perennial problems. I appreciate the truth of the dictum: "War is the health of the state." I understand that foreign policy elites love power as much as any other class or school of elitists.

But I see no salvation in isolationism.

PJ: What is your view on marijuana?

JF: My view on marijuana is that whenever I have found myself in a room thick with cannabis smoke, I could expect to hear a lot of silly babbling and giggling. Years ago, when I ate a plate of well-laced brownies the experience was so repellent that I immediately set out to sleep it off. Then I had the lousiest sequence of dreams in my entire life -- no plot, stupid dialogue, no sex, nothing.

Forty years ago I would have said "nip it in the bud." Thirty years ago I’d have said "stamp it out." In 2008, I argue that it’s time to legalize it, regulate it, tax it. More, I advocate a serious reconsideration of the whole war on drugs.

Concluding, Frary wrote:

Taking a larger view, I should tell you that I believe there is a huge mass of history to show that dependency and servitude is the default position of the human race. It may be that the experiment with personal freedom is drawing to a close. I feel obliged to resist.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 24, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink

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Comments

"Taking a larger view, I should tell you that I believe there is a huge mass of history to show that dependency and servitude is the default position of the human race. It may be that the experiment with personal freedom is drawing to a close. I feel obliged to resist."

Holy smokes, I like that. Describes my position almost perfectly!

"Dependency and servitude is the default position of the human race...I feel obliged to resist."

I wish I could vote for Prof. Frary.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-10-24 12:03:03 PM


That makes two of us, Terrence.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-10-24 12:18:00 PM


Wow, ask him if he'll please run for office in Michigan!

Posted by: Abearfan | 2008-10-24 12:50:40 PM


Ah, Jaws, I always thought you were more optimistic about people than I am :-).

...

When I was on my Koch fellowship, I kept asking other libertarians why they thought people deserved more freedom. A bit disingenuous, because -- the argument goes -- freedom is supposed to be something you're entitled to, not something you deserve.

On the other hand, I wonder how people can be *entitled* to that which is, at bottom, incompatible with their nature, if in fact dependency and servitude is the default position.

Hm.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-10-24 1:00:45 PM


Frary's comment regarding 'isolationism' reveals a stark misunderstanding of Ron Paul's stance on interaction with other nations. Frary seems to think of non-interventionism as isolationism, a troublesome mistake. Opposition to managed trade agreements with other nations and also military intervention on behalf of international corporations is a good thing and consistent with traditional American values of free and open trade.

His levity is disturbing, I don't yet know how I feel about it yet.

Posted by: temjr.pgh | 2008-10-24 1:32:28 PM


I can't believe that anyone would defend a drug dealer. Legalization will cause chaos and anarchy because there'll be no stopping these people. If you do legalize, please pass a castle law and liberalize gun laws so it will be legal to kill druggies who come on my property.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-10-24 1:32:52 PM


I can't believe that anyone would defend a drug dealer or a user. It's simply wrong. They're a menace to themselves and others.

If you do legalize drugs, I recommend liberalizing gun laws AND passing a "castle law" with a "stand your ground" element so that I can shoot druggies who trespass on my property. Fair is fair.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-10-24 1:35:59 PM


"If you do legalize, please pass a castle law and liberalize gun laws so it will be legal to kill druggies who come on my property."

Zeb,

Heh, ok. But I don't know if you need to worry much about a rampaging mob of pot smokers coming to your house.

That is, unless they smell brownies.

Then you'd better get out the mortar.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-10-24 1:36:56 PM


He would get my vote if I had one.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-10-24 2:39:51 PM


I do like Dr. Fray's comment in the last paragraph, yet the man does seem a bit flippant. I agree with the previous commenter who said that Prof. Fray misunderstands Ron Paul's stance on foreign policy. There is a definite difference between isolationism and non-interventionism. As far as Prof. Fray's admiration of Hamilton: Burr did the nation a favor on that fateful morning of July 11, 1804... Putting an end to the Northeastern (Fray's home turf) Federalist's attempt to establish an imperial presidency. Wait, aren't the Bush's from Maine too?

Posted by: Eric | 2008-10-24 9:36:15 PM


If you legalize drugs, the prices will plummet. Giving the drug dealers less incentive to sell, and police more time to persue real crimes. I'm sure Al Capone or any other thug would agree that prohibition works.

As for the "isolationist" comment by John, I smell a a fake...

Posted by: DJ | 2008-10-27 1:25:50 PM



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