Backpeddlers to the Left of Me, Hypocrites to the Right, Here I am, Stuck in the Middle with Ron Paul
Greginak comments on why the Ron Paul discussions are stupid:
For one there is only so much one can say about any subject before there are few returns. To many attempts to analyze what the newsletters meant when they the newsletters themselves are unambiguous. RP ended up being a stand in for all sorts of other discussions with RP being pointlessly shoehorned in.
I don’t think the inclusion of Ron Paul is irrelevant or extraneous. Paul is one of three remaining contenders for President of the United States in an age when who the President is actually matters. Nevertheless, I agree with Greginak that supporters should own the newsletters.
As a teacher, I tried to get as much as possible out of the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, and I got in the habit of meta-analyzing everything I did. There are enough posts on Ron Paul at the League (including a Moore Award nominee. Congratulations, Ryan!) that we can now lay out a proper meta-analysis. Detractors of Ron Paul, it seems, fall into several camps.
Hypocrites on the Left – I see lots of parallels between Ron Paul and Julian Assange, and I support both of those dudes on the grounds that the good things they do far outweigh the bad things they do. That’s it, bottom line: making sure America does not cause evil in the world > my President being a dude I want to go have a beer with.
Hypocrites on the Right – Hypocrites on the right are hypocrites essentially, for criticizing the debt/deficit without being willing to put military spending or spending on domestic wars on the table.
The Water is much colder than it looked – Mistermix suggests that early Ron Paul endorsers have backpedaled. I don’t think they have. The Ron Paul baggage has been generally available since the 2008 campaign, and for Serious Bloggers to have endorsed Paul in 2011 and then to have retracted their endorsements because “the newsletters surfaced” means either (A) Serious Bloggers are not so Serious about research; or (B) Serious Bloggers realized they “were on the wrong side of history” – i.e. they caved to pressure. To support a known racist/homophobe/antisemite like Paul is to admit to being a racist cum homophobe cum antisemite. (Personally, I would backpedal, if Christopher Carr were my actual, real name. Good thing for my future in journalism my real name is Schmadox McGeesus-fruits.)
Overwhelmed by the Stench – Pop quiz: Abraham Lincoln or Ron Paul?
I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything. – Lincoln at Lincoln/Douglas debate, September 18, 1858
Who would deny that Lincoln did more than any other President to bring about the social and political equality of the black and white races? If Lincoln were running for President today, would we not vote for him because of his explicit racist views? Even though he freed the slaves? I realize that eighties/nineties Ron Paul missed the memo about racial pandering and questionable financial arrangements coming back to bite him in the ass (and he may even hate minorities), but… alone among all candidates, Ron Paul opposes The Drug War, which is the most crippling form of institutional racism in existence today. According to Human Rights Watch:
The racial disparities in the rates of drug arrests culminate in dramatic racial disproportions among incarcerated drug offenders. At least two-thirds of drug arrests result in a criminal conviction. Many convicted drug offenders are sentenced to incarceration: an estimated 67 percent of convicted felony drug defendants are sentenced to jail or prison. The likelihood of incarceration increases if the defendant has a prior conviction. Since blacks are more likely to be arrested than whites on drug charges, they are more likely to acquire the convictions that ultimately lead to higher rates of incarceration. Although the data in this backgrounder indicate that blacks represent about one-third of drug arrests, they constitute 46 percent of persons convicted of drug felonies in state courts. Among black defendants convicted of drug offenses, 71 percent received sentences to incarceration in contrast to 63 percent of convicted white drug offenders. Human Rights Watch’s analysis of prison admission data for 2003 revealed that relative to population, blacks are 10.1 times more likely than whites to be sent to prison for drug offenses.
Honest Opposition – Glenn Greenwald puts it quite well:
It’s perfectly rational and reasonable for progressives to decide that the evils of their candidate are outweighed by the evils of the GOP candidate, whether Ron Paul or anyone else. An honest line of reasoning in this regard would go as follows:
Yes, I’m willing to continue to have Muslim children slaughtered by covert drones and cluster bombs, and America’s minorities imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands for no good reason, and the CIA able to run rampant with no checks or transparency, and privacy eroded further by the unchecked Surveillance State, and American citizens targeted by the President for assassination with no due process, and whistleblowers threatened with life imprisonment for “espionage,” and the Fed able to dole out trillions to bankers in secret, and a substantially higher risk of war with Iran (fought by the U.S. or by Israel with U.S. support) in exchange for less severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, the preservation of the Education and Energy Departments, more stringent environmental regulations, broader health care coverage, defense of reproductive rights for women, stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities, a President with no associations with racist views in a newsletter, and a more progressive Supreme Court.
Without my adopting it, that is at least an honest, candid, and rational way to defend one’s choice. It is the classic lesser-of-two-evils rationale, the key being that it explicitly recognizes that both sides are “evil”
Like Mr. Kuznicki, I’ll recommend the entire piece.
Bizarro Burkeans – In my opinion, an extremely on-point Greenwald actually misses that the best argument against Paul getting the nod is an accidental Burkean one, here espoused by BlaiseP (although he’ll deny his argument is Burkean):
A political endorsement, like a conversion experience or a poker game, eventually resolves to pushing your little stack of chips forward and saying “All In”. It doesn’t mean you completely understand what you’re committing to in the process nor are you required to approve of everything implied in the choice you’ve made. It means you’ve weighed all in the balances and made a decision based on the alternatives. In this election, there are few good alternatives; you have made your choice.
In a choice between words and bombs, I observe words inevitably precede the bombs: those who have made the choice for Team Ron Paul must be clear about their positions on the rhetorical bombs he’s been throwing about of late. If given free rein to do exactly what he says he wants to do, the economy would grind to a halt as it did in the days of Jimmy Carter, a point I’ve made before, as you very well know.
Therefore, this business about Words or Bombs is a false dichotomy. Words lead to Bombs of many sorts and Ron Paul scares me to death: not because he would lead us to war on other nations but to war of iconoclasm, tearing down much that is good in our government.
I admire the intentions of people who hold up Ron Paul’s anti-interventionism as a means of ending suffering.
At the same time, I’ve also questioned whether or not sufficient thought is placed on the second-order effects of US withdrawal from multilateral institutions and general lack of US involvement in international system affairs.
My problem is, those who support Paul and people like me have far different ideas of what will happen in January of 2013. In short, all the bad policies of Paul (gold standard, Federal Reserve, entitlements, abortion, gay rights, etc.) will actually get passed or at least a fair hearing as they’ll be largely supported by a Republican Congress that would come with a Paul victory.
On the other hand, those massive cuts to the defense budget? Sorry, overridden by a 2/3 majority of Congress who have pork projects. Limiting of the drug war? Sorry, overridden by a 2/3 majority of Congress who still believes we need to throw minorities in jail. Attempts at a fair bargaining in Israel? Overridden by a 2/3 majority who are owned by AIPAC.
BlaiseP, Nob, and Jesse make some very good points here. Assuming that public opinion matters and is the dominant force of legislative change in the American democracy, voters generally oppose the gold standard, support neutering the Fed, generally oppose cutting entitlements, favor legal gay marriage, are fairly mixed and incoherent on the defense budget; a widely-cited Zogby poll suggests that Americans believe the War on Drugs is a failure.
Nevertheless, even in a nominal democracy, we can’t discount the power of special interests to put a lid on and suffocate even universally popular legislation, and none of the issues commonly discussed as part of Ron Paul’s platform is as black and white as we’d like to believe. Political realities obscure discussion and impede progress. Special interests compel action against popular mandate.
Does that mean we should just give up? Would setting up tents in the park be a more effective means to getting the kinds of policies we want?