Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ron Paul is the "Least" Offensive Republican Candidate

I really get a laugh, sadly, over centrist and liberal Democrats who think Ron Paul is a devil. From my view as a self described radical progressive, Ron Paul is actually the least objectionable of the Republicans. As I see it, while the other Republican candidates are 80 to 90% wrong, Ron Paul is at least 50% right.

Ron Paul is to the Republican Party what Dennis Kucinich is to the Democrats: a person whose politics is based on analysis according to principle rather than expediency according to power. As a person of libertarian principles, Ron Paul is as much a pariah to Wall Street Republicans as Kucinich's progressivism is anathema to Wall Street Democrats.

Now, as a progressive I personally find that libertarianism has a profound flaw consisting of myopic lacunae as deep as a canyon resulting in an irreparable breach of logic that is avoided and wrapped in dense layers of denial. Because of this flaw, libertarians are hated by both sides of the Wall Streeters who control bot parties. Leaving aside for now the nature of the flaw of libertarian analysis, merely on the principle that a political philosophy that is so hated by Wall Street can't be all bad, I would imagine that liberal Democrats would not be so hostile towards it or Ron Paul.

For now, Wall Streeters are in control of both the Republican and Democratic Parties and so they set the machinery of marginalization against those within the two parties represented by Paul and Kucinich. Libertarians and progressives (real progressives, not the fake kind like Clinton) within each party who rest their analysis of political events and foreign and domestic policies upon principled positions rather than upon lobbyists and vested interests are hated the most by the Wall Streeters because money plays no role in the decision making process, except where it really counts, in determining what the actual costs of proposals will be.

For example, liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans make decisions under the influence of who will profit? The cost of the Iraq war is hardly a concern for Wall Street liberals and conservatives alike. However, to libertarians and progressives, the cost of the Iraq war is outrageous to historical proportions and who is profiting from that cost is an abomination of justice, and of both republican and democratic (small "r" and "d" intended) principles.

Now, libertarianism as represented by Ron Paul, has a very solid basis in support of civil liberties. This is the area of agreement where libertarians and progressive can find their most common ground. Also in the arena of foreign policy, libertarians like Paul agree with progressives that the Constitution gives the war powers to Congress, not the President, so a Paul presidency would oppose interventionism and the adventurism of regime change such as is occurring in Iraq. Liberal Democrats should recognize those pluses without apology.

Clearly, it is in the area of fiscal analysis and policy that libertarianism and progressivism diverge the most widely. Libertarians and progressives both believe in the general principle of balanced budgets, but libertarians would balance a budget by minimizing government spending while progressives would balance a budget by maximizing revenue collections, especially by increased tax rates for wealthy individuals and corporations. While libertarians and progressives tend to a much greater degree to be Constitutionalists, from the progressive point of view, the libertarian view of minimal government is carried to a such an extreme that it reaches the point of violating the Constitutional purpose of Promoting the General Welfare. Progressives view libertarians to be fundamentally anti-social and in that extremism to deny the inherent and basic social premises of the Constitution

But even with this most fundamental disagreement, I would rather engage in a debate over this Constitutional principle with a president like Paul who would engage in that debate on the basis of principles, than with any other Republican who cares not a whit for analysis, principle, or debate, and instead simply states like Bush, "I'm the decider."

Updated Post Script: Just to be clear about "Dr. Paul" as his fans like to call him. The most offensive thing about him to me is that he is supported by white supremists and he doesn't go far enough to disavow their views. Paul says that racism is incompatible with libertarianism because libertarianism is individualism. He says the "collectivist" view sees people as part of a group, such as "whites" and "blacks," but as a libertarian he sees all people as individuals. That sounds almost good, but again, it really amounts to a denial of our social reality by hiding it behind the label "collectivist".

An individualist who denies the collectivity of social groups is as one-sided as a collectivist who denies the essential uniqueness of the individual.

Paul needs to say plainly that racism, prejudice, and segregation are wrong. But I don't think he can say that because in the view of libertarian individualism, individuals are allowed to be racist as an individual right. He can say it is wrong to not see and treat people as individuals, but he doesn't seem capable of saying that prejudice is wrong.

Because he believes in individuals and that government should be as limited as possible, he believes that the government should not enforce desegregation or prevent racial prejudice. That is why he is found so attractive to white supremists who see in him the dismantaling of the protections against wrongful discrimination. Paul would let the military, government, and all public accomodations allow discrimination as the exercise of individual rights even when he is supposed to be opposed to collectivist views, becasue he puts the right of the individual to be collectivist (e.g., racist) above the right of the individual to have to suffer from the collectivist view if it requires government to enforce that protection. This is another example of the failure of libertarianism to deal adequately with the social contract.

Updatede Post Post Script Well, the more I think about it the more tenuous I feel about the title of this blog. The problem is that Ron Paul is very on target with so much of what he says, but the stuff that he is off target about is to off target that it goes between the goofy to the really creepy.

Compare Ron Paul and the second least objectionable Republican John McCain. McCain seems like a relatively good guy, but he endorsed the war and supports the war with such a vengence that it is hard to compare the deaths of hundreds of thousands,if not over a million, of Iraqis for US pride with the delusional racism of Paul that doesn't seem to have any current credibility beoynd the loony reich wing. In other words the things that Paul is offensive with are very offensive but have little clout in todays world and in fact are so ridiculous that they really make him laughable. What is scary about him is that he and his followers take him so seriously and don't see the irony of a politician who make individualism into a fetish yet is a white supremacist.

Here's a link to a pdf file of the Ron Paul Political Report of June 15, 1992, Volume VI, Number 6, titled "A Special Issue on Racial Terrorism."

Some of the nasty quotes from this offensive writing include:

Of Washington D. C. he says,
"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?"

And this gem:
"Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began."

Here's a link to a New Republic story on it.

Here's a link to a DailyKos contributor's diary about this, titled Ron Paul's Racist Newsletters Revealed

And here are comments by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks.

I don't see any way for Ron Paul to argu his way out of responsibility for this racist piece of writing.