By Ron Paul
Young people's dissatisfaction with President Barack Obama's failure to deliver the peace and prosperity he promised in 2008 could allow Republicans to capture the youth vote in 2016. But in order to capitalize on that opportunity, Republicans must embrace the philosophy of liberty that drew so many young people to my 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.
These younger voters expect Republicans to consistently defend individual liberty and limited government. Millennial voters also expect the GOP to oppose crony capitalism, even – and especially – when the cronies are GOP donors. Sadly, two presidential candidates, Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida, are supporting legislation that combines an unconstitutional assault on individual liberty with cronyism.
The bill in question is the so-called "Restoration of America's Wire Act," more accurately named the iGaming ban. This legislation makes it a federal crime to gamble online. It nullifies laws in three states allowing online gambling and it pre-empts ongoing debates in several states considering legalizing internet gambling.
Proponents of the iGaming ban claim a nationwide ban on internet gambling is necessary to protect against widespread online gambling by citizens in states where gambling is outlawed. This argument ignores the existence of technology allowing online casinos to ensure their customers are legally allowed to gamble online.
A national ban would not be justified even if state laws allowing online gambling led to widespread violations of other state laws prohibiting Internet gambling. The 10th Amendment is supposed to restrain federal power, not justify creating new federal crimes.
Passage of the ban will give the federal government a new excuse to spy on all of our online activities. Whenever I speak to young people, they enthusiastically cheer my attacks on warrantless wiretapping and mass surveillance. Does anyone believe these younger voters will support a candidate or a party that supports letting government agencies spy on their online activities to ensure they are not playing poker?
Libertarian-minded millennials agree with conservative attacks on liberal nanny state programs like gun control, Obamacare and Michelle Obama's school lunch program. However, they are alienated by the hypocrisy shown by too many conservatives who claim to favor individual liberty, yet support legislation like the iGaming ban because they disapprove of gambling. A "conservative" nanny state is just as unconstitutional, and as dangerous to liberty, as a liberal one.
Those with moral objections to gambling have the right to try to persuade their fellow citizens to not gamble. What they do not have the right to do is use government force to stop people from engaging in activities, like gambling, that do not involve force or fraud.
It is an open secret that the iGaming ban is being pushed by one billionaire casino mogul, who (not coincidentally) is also one of the country's top political donors. This donor has chosen to not operate an online casino, and, rather than fairly compete with his online competitors, he is attempting to use his influence to outlaw Internet gambling.
Prior to waging his personal struggle against online gambling, this donor had earned the gratitude of neoconservatives in and out of Congress for using his money to promote a hawkish foreign policy. This may explain why some of the iGaming ban's biggest supporters, including Graham and Rubio, are also some of the biggest hawks in Congress.
It is hard to imagine a better way to alienate millennial voters than by supporting another unconstitutional infringement on their freedom in order to aid one billionaire neocon. Any politician who bets on the iGaming ban is bound to come up with lemons.
This article was originally published at U.S. News & World Report.