I'm for Obama, but only because Ron Paul can't win
End the war, bring the troops home, and stop the imperial meddling in other nations' business. That's a wonderfully encouraging platform to see from a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. The fact that it is coming from a Republican who shares the field for his party's nomination with proud apologists for torture is even more remarkable. For this reason, Texas Congressman Ron Paul has been drumming up money and interest on the internet, and has even begun to register in national and state polls.
Predictably, a small number of those who would generally consider themselves on the left have also contracted Paul fever. My partner Nina and I have overheard several people say that they are "really for Ron Paul, but will settle for Obama" since Paul doesn't have a chance. I've seen chalk, spraypaint, stapleguns and wheatpaste, the full arsenal of the activist cadre mobilized to spread his message. Some are traditional libertarians, but others are campus lefty types. Though Paul is unlikely to make much of a dent when it comes to actual voting, it's all a pretty depressing reminder of just how silly folks on the left can be. This is the problem with not having a real progressive narrative, and the fact that our progressive leaders (like, um, Obama) won't actually spell one out in a way that really makes sense. Paul is for "change". Obama is for "change". People want "change". Ergo, Obama, Paul and "the people" all want the same thing. They don't, of course, but it is possible to make that mistake considering Obama's refrain about putting all that boring old "left vs right" stuff behind us.
Let's review, though, just for fun, all the ways in which Ron Paul is a serious nutjob, albeit an affable one: Paul is firmly anti-choice. He wants to abolish the federal income tax, along with most of the functions of the Federal government. Department of Education? Gone. EPA? Gone. IRS? Gone. NEA? Gone. What's left? Police to lock you up for performing and abortion.
Yes, he wants to pull us out of Iraq and NAFTA, but also the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. He has stopped calling for the immediate abolition of social security, but wants to phase it out. He identifies Federal regulation as the greatest threat to the environment (I didn't make that up). Amazingly, though undocumented workers pay millions of dollars into social security they will never see, his priority is to make sure that social security is for "Americans only." And that's just a small sample.
Many right wingers oppose foriegn wars. There has always been an isolationist tradition on the American right. Confusing it with progressivism is a very bad mistake.
Personally, I agree with John Edwards, Barack Obama and Dennis Kucinic, the three actual progressives running for president this year. They are all calling, in different ways, for a revitalization of our public sector. They've pointed out that we've seen the effects of the anti-government vision Ron Paul broadcasts at work: in the effective loss of New Orleans, in the foreclosure crisis, in our national health care disaster and in the privatization of our military. It's not "change." It's a deepening of the mistakes we've been making as a nation for thirty years. It's time to turn the page indeed.
PS: Just for fun, here's Ron Paul solving the problem of racism in our society through...limited government!
"A nation that once prided itself on a sense of rugged individualism has become uncomfortably obsessed with racial group identities. The collectivist mindset is at the heart of racism.
Government as an institution is particularly ill-suited to combat bigotry. Bigotry at its essence is a problem of the heart, and we cannot change people's hearts by passing more laws and regulations. It is the federal government that most divides us by race, class, religion, and gender. Through its taxes, restrictive regulations, corporate subsidies, racial set-asides, and welfare programs, government plays far too large a role in determining who succeeds and who fails. Government "benevolence" crowds out genuine goodwill by institutionalizing group thinking, thus making each group suspicious that others are receiving more of the government loot. This leads to resentment and hostility among us."