Hey, what’s that in our stocking? It’s Ron Paul! Oh joy – we got The TruthÂ® for Christmas!
Ahem. So those of you who thought Ron Paul was going to go away once the big boys got serious have probably been surprised by his staying power so far. He’s polling in the high single digits (something
Ronald Reagan Fred Thompson can’t say) and one pollster thinks his actual numbers are in the double digits. He says he’s raised $19M this quarter. His supporters are insane courageously enthusiastic, and he seems to be showing strength among some groups that you wouldn’t expect – progressives, younger voters, etc.
And of course, he’s left the rest of the pack for dead in the highly scientific S&R reader poll, where at the moment of this writing he has over twice as many votes as the rest of the GOP candidates put together (unless you count “other”).
Election watchers in both parties are trying to better understand Paul’s appeal and what it means for their candidates’ chances. Based on what I’m reading lately, I’m not sure which party is more concerned about a potential 3rd-party run by the representative from TX-14. Probably the GOP, although some Dem strategists are paying closer attention than you’d expect. In fact, I’ve even seen some very smart progressive analysts working through early primary scenarios whereby Paul becomes a legit power past South Carolina.
A good part of Paul’s popularity seems as obvious as the reasons why both parties should be nervous. To put it simply – which is how we Americans like our issues – Ron Paul is right about some very important things. He’s balls-to-the-wall against our little misadventure in Iraq. He likewise opposes hostilities against the region’s other Ira, Iran. And he managed to see the Patriot Act for the blatant assault on our liberties that it is. He’s distressed by our nation’s move toward a “soft” fascism (although I’m damned if I can find much in his actual voting record that’s consistent with his concern that “corporations [are] running the show” and “big government [is] in bed with big business”; more on this below). There are others, but these are the high spots for a lot of his supporters, I suspect.
There are also a number of issues where Paul is wrong. Way wrong. Tragically wrong. And if you find my use of the word “wrong” arrogant, then let me see if I can put it more objectively: Ron Paul holds positions on many issues that likely run counter to the beliefs of many of his supporters. It’s this segment of voters – disaffected progressives and moderates who’ve had enough of the GOP – that I’d like to address. Short version: I feel your pain, but I fear you’re letting your pain lead you into
barking idiocy short-sightedness and counterproductive anti-thinking.
For instance, what about that nasty racism issue that won’t seem to go away? Let’s look at some of his own words:
The professional blacks may have cowed the elites, but good sense survives at the grass roots. Many more are going to have difficultly avoiding the belief that our country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists — and they can be identified by the color of their skin. This conclusion may not be entirely fair, but it is, for many, entirely unavoidable.
Indeed, it is shocking to consider the uniformity of opinion among blacks in this country. Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty, and the end of welfare and affirmative action…. Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the “criminal justice system,” I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.
If similar in-depth studies were conducted in other major cities, who doubts that similar results would be produced? We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, but it is hardly irrational. Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings, and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers.
We should note that Paul later attempted to back off of these words a bit by explaining that he didn’t say them, they were the product of the people who wrote his newsletter for him. So that absolves him of responsibility and guilt, I guess.
But then there’s this bit, attributed to the American National Socialist Workers Party Web site:
I have kept quiet about the Ron Paul campaign for a while, because I didn’t see any need to say anything that would cause any trouble. However, reading the latest release from his campaign spokesman, I am compelled to tell the truth about Ron Paul’s extensive involvement in white nationalism.
Both Congressman Paul and his aides regularly meet with members of the Stormfront set, American Renaissance, the Institute for Historic Review, and others at the Tara Thai restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, usually on Wednesdays. This is part of a dinner that was originally organized by Pat Buchanan, Sam Francis and Joe Sobran, and has since been mostly taken over by the Council of Conservative Citizens.
Is Ron Paul a racist? I don’t know what lurks in the man’s heart, but I don’t think it unreasonable to suggest that he’s given us ample reason to wonder, do you? He’s certainly abandoned any presumption of innocence in an electoral context.
This is hardly the only point where an educated, thoughtful, progressive-minded voter might pause to reflect on Congressman Paul. For instance:
- He’s ardently anti-choice, which makes me question whether he’s even a real Libertarian. He has managed to concoct a rationalization around the rights of fetuses, but it strikes me as labored (and his invocation of Terri Schiavo doesn’t help here, either)..
- He’s earned a 76% rating from the Christian Coalition. I hate to get too ad hominem, but this is an organization that makes a point of opposing all things socially progressive.
- He voted NO on allowing embryonic stem cell research. (May 2005) This doesn’t tell you all you need to know, but it tells you a lot that it’s helpful to know.
- Voted YES on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad.
- Voted NO on requiring lobbyist disclosure of bundled donations. (May 2007) Because, you know, he’s worried about corporatism.
- Voted NO on campaign finance reform banning soft-money contributions. (Feb 2002) Because he’s terribly concerned about politicians being in bed with the big money.
- Voted NO on banning soft money and issue ads. (Sep 1999)
- Voted YES on building a fence along the Mexican border. (Sep 2006)
- Voted NO on increasing the minimum wage to $7.25. (Jan 2007) You can really begin to sense his rage at exploitative big business here, can’t you?
- Voted NO on “network neutrality.” (Jun 2006)
- Voted NO on allowing telephone monopolies to offer Internet access. (Feb 2002)
- He supports a Constitutional Amendment for school prayer. Because there’s nowhere left in America where you can go to pray, I guess.
- YES on “protecting” the Pledge of Allegiance.
- YES on vouchers for private & parochial schools.
- He’s rated at 5% by the League of Conservation Voters, indicating a strongly anti-environment record.
- NO on raising Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and incentives for alternative fuels.
- NO on prohibiting oil drilling & development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Source)
Now, I get that no candidate is perfect. Very few people are lucky enough to have a candidate on the ballot for any office who agrees with him or her 100% of the time. We all have to decide which candidate comes closest to representing our views on the issues that matter most to us. I’m no different from Paul’s supporters on this. If I vote for Edwards, I’ll do so because his views on critical class issues outweigh his views on gays and the fact that, apology notwithstanding, he was once dumb enough to fall for Dubya’s lying and warmongering. If I vote for Obama I’ll have to find a way past the fact that he’s way too willing to issue high-sounding pronouncements from a safe distance while actual leaders are back doing the dirty work of standing up for the Constitution. If I vote for Hillary I’ll have to overlook just about everygoddamnedthing and hold my nose while I vote for bad over evil. If I vote for Huckabee or Giuliani I’ll have to find a way to deal with the fact that somebody lobotomized me in my sleep.
Yes, there are a number of issues where Paul isn’t just right, he’s probably the most right of all the candidates. And yes, I understand how your rage over two or three major issues can dominate your thinking.
But backing Paul, when we consider the full range of issues? That isn’t cutting off your nose to spite your face. It’s stuffing your entire body into a wood chipper to spite your face. The truth is that once you get past Iraq and the Patriot Act, he’s worse than the Busheviks on most other issues.
- He’s iffy on race – at best.
- His Fundie Right anti-abortion leanings are so strong they’re the one thing that compels him to abandon Libertarian dogma. In fact, he’s been known to express a baffling degree of Christian paranoia.
“We hear bleats about homophobia, but it is actually religiophobia that afflicts America. The government is starting with the fringe, but it won’t stop there. All Christians have much to fear.”
Right. Because since only 85%+ of Americans and an even higher percentage of our political leaders are Christians, there’s a real risk that the 10% Satanic/Liberal minority is going to overrun the place any day now.
- He’s a corporatist’s wet dream and an environmentalist’s worst nightmare.
- He places the rights of stem cells that are never going to be used to conceive a fetus above those of actual human beings with serious illnesses.
America has more than one or two problems. And nothing creates more and worse problems than a lot of one-issue voting. So for those of my fellow citizens who are in love with Ron Paul, I ask you to step back, take a deep breath, and think about the fact that it does us little good to get out of Iraq if the cost is further annihilating the home front. Please, think about the big picture.
And for our other presidential candidates, especially the Democrats who are allegedly about progress, all I want for Christmas is for you to stop making a pro-corporatist, anti-environment, anti-choice Jesuscrat with a disturbing record on race look viable.
I don’t think that’s asking too much. Do you?