in Kulturkampf

Ron Paul is Not a Progressive

I was Tweeted this yesterday: “5 Reasons Why Progressives Should Join the Ron Paul Revolution

There aren’t many people still calling Ron Paul’s ideas radical.  In fact, his credibility in the eyes of many has only been fortified since his 2008 candidacy due to his consistently accurate analysis. His 2012 presidential campaign is in full swing, armed with a formidable war chest, impressive straw poll victories, and the same resonating message of peace and liberty. Yet, he has been completely ignored by the progressive media.

That’s how this whole piece goes: reality gets completely inverted to the point that you need hundreds of words just to extract the whole of the stupid in the opening ‘graff. Ron Paul was never radical. He’s a reactionary, which is quite a different thing. Progressives, who believe that government can be made less awful and turned toward constructive ends, are radicals. Just ask Saul Alinsky. Ron Paul’s ideology of governance is closer to Grover Norquist’s, so it’s correct to call him extreme, at least on economic issues.

Indeed, back in 2008 we might have called him “fringe.” True, he is no longer the fringe of the GOP. That role has been taken over by a whole set of the new (old) loons. K-Street adopted the moneybombs and tea parties invented by the Ron Paul groupies and turned them into Teh Tea Party™, a new banner under which the same old culture warriors now march in unified Republican voting patterns to the drumbeat of FOX Noise.

This has allowed the fringe to widen its presence within mainstream conservatism. The ranks of the paranoid have grown. Indeed, Paul is still fringe but belongs to an increasingly-fringe political party. Paul remains a steadfast Republican, despite his stated libertarian principles; he has refused to divide his party by joining a third, and now no longer needs to, anyway.

As to the question of Ron Paul’s credibility: he wants to bring back the gold standard, believes property rights should trump civil rights, and says the Civil War was Lincoln’s fault. What was that about “accurate analysis”? But Eric Blair, author of the piece in question, slips the surly bonds of Earth in the next sentence:

His 2012 presidential campaign is in full swing, armed with a formidable war chest, impressive straw poll victories, and the same resonating message of peace and liberty.

By “formidable,” Blair doesn’t mean $86 million like Obama raised the other day. He means $4.5 million. Hey, he raised more than Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty — wooo! As for “straw polls,” we’re talking about CPAC. You know, that convention where Rachel Maddow found the John Birchers? Liberty, I get; Paul is a libertarian, so he at least pretends to understand how liberty works. But peace? Really?

And that is the centerpiece of Blair’s argument: that Ron Paul is a non-interventionist, which is apparently the next best thing to a pacifist. In reality, Ron Paul is an isolationist, advocating withdrawal from the United Nations. That is classic Fuoride-scaremongering, tinfoil hat John Bircher stuff — and I don’t know anyone in the peace movement who advocates a similar position. David Swanson, Father Roy Bourgeois, and Daniel Ellsberg have never advocated the idea. It’s pure right-wing fringe.

Any apparent pacifism is actually classic Ayn Rand: I’ve got mine, screw you. His non-interference abroad is actually not-giving-a-crap. Ron Paul doesn’t even think the federal government should do disaster relief at home, much less in other countries; he’s that kind of peacemonger. He takes such pride in voting “no” as often as possible to any kind of foreign anything that he even opposed a letter of condolence to the people of Haiti.

Libertarianism has made a deliberate effort to infect the peace movement. Every pacifist event I’ve attended since 2001 features a “9/11 truth” sign, though their numbers have thankfully fallen over the years. And at crunch time, one guy always yells “NINE ELEVEN WAS AN INSIDE JOB! VOTE RON PAUL!” while actual progressives are getting arrested.

So I’ll believe Ron Paul is all about peace when he shows up to be seen with the peace movement. He can attend School of the Americas Watch and meet the victims of torture by graduates of the school. He can join a gathering with Ellsberg and Michael Moore to talk about Bradley Manning. He can meet Medea Benjamin and Chris Hedges as they prepare to be arrested. Until then, it’s all just wind.

Blair makes an effort to make it seem as though Paul supports gay marriage, but Paul has never put his Congressional vote where his mouth is because he’s homophobic. He prefers austerity to stimulus. He is a culture warrior, opposing abortion rights, denying evolution as well as climate change, and favoring abstinence-only education. “Libertarian” is cover for the same old culture wars, it seems.

There’s nothing progressive about Ron Paul unless we change the meaning of the word “progressive” until it is meaningless.  You don’t need a litmus test to figure him out. I’m not saying he’s evil, or a liar, or nasty; the only thing he agrees on with progressivism simply happens to be war. I can guarantee that a President Ron Paul would be extraordinarily bad for everything else the progressive movement holds dear: he would not bring peace, no, not at all.

In 2007, Paulites’ desperation to lend their fringe favorite some modicum of relevance led to innovative campaigning through websites, YouTube, and social media. The echo-chamber they created makes them fanatically excited, but their outreach efforts are all about further desperation for relevance at a time their man has been swallowed by a whole field of fringe Republicans.

So anyone who calls themselves a “progressive” and tells you they prefer Ron Paul to Barack Obama is deluded — or ratfucking. It’s that simple. As for Blair, who appears to be a Ron Paul organizer:

(Paul) has been completely ignored by the  progressive media

No, he hasn’t. We’re all on the Ron Paul beat — the real progressive media, anyway — because we know a reactionary when we see one.

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  • Anonymous

    Ezra Klein, way back in late 2007, got into a row with Glenn Greenwald over Ron Paul. It stuck with me. This section especially:

    But let’s be clear: Paul wants to destroy the minimum wage, dissolve Medicare, end the Constitutional right to choice, prevent gay adoptions, preserve “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell,” undermine Social Security, dismantle public education, etc, etc. He’s not merely a conservative on these issues. He’s a retrograde radical who wants to build a dystopic society of staggering inequality and cruelty, and then call it true “liberty.”

    We can add the debt ceiling in there too. (Who the fuck thought we’d be talking about that back in 2007?)Like I said on Twitter, my PEE Zone overlaps with Paul’s when it comes to the security state and smoking pot – I don’t smoke pot but I think it’d be swell if people could. My PEE Zone violently retreats when it comes to just about anything else that Paul stands for. He holds to his positions even in the face of any appeal to empathy – he talks about old people dying in the streets with a shrug, which is a hell of a step below a normal politician going “yeah, it’s terrible, and let me talk about fixing it and then not do anything.” At least the latter is acknowledging your point.

    I’ve been trying to ferret out Paul’s appeal and I think I hit on it: it’s the notion that he is ‘pure.’ He’s not a wishy-washy conservative who thinks government should be small except for the part of government that kills things – he wants that part of government shrunk too. Compromise is not on the agenda, and there’s an appeal to that, the notion that he is unshakable in his ideals even if so many of those ideals are in violent opposition to our own. Of course, nature and people and life’s not pure – the only origin of pure H2O is in a lab – and the Nirvana Fallacy is just that, a fallacy. But if fallacies never happened, we wouldn’t have a name for them. People fall prey to them too often.

  • “Compromise is not on the agenda, and there’s an appeal to that, the
    notion that he is unshakable in his ideals even if so many of those
    ideals are in violent opposition to our own.”

    The word I think you’re looking for is “sublime.” I once heard it used by a British veteran of Dunkirk to describe his feelings of awe and magnificence at the scope of the defeat.

    Absolutism is polarizing and exciting, no matter which side you’re on. Fanaticism, I suppose, has the advantage of sincerity.

  • Anonymous

    You know the old political saw “he may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch?” I think a lot of Paul’s progressive fans are taking the opposite point of view, of “I may not agree with him on 95% of everything, but at least I know where he stands on that other 5%.”
    Paul is sincere – I have no doubt he will try to do everything he talks about and that’s why I will never support him for President. 

  • As the author of the blog, Progressives for Ron Paul, I would like to suggest that you think about not only what he purportedly wants, but also what he could actually accomplish. He will never get into the white house without significant progressive support and that will mean significant compromise. He has offered a starting point: massive cuts in military empire building and maintenance with half of the savings going to social security and medicare and the other half to debt reduction. I believe this compromise is a good one but can be improved upon if progressives become the vital element he needs to build a temporary coalition government.  He will not under such a government be able to roll back civil rights or destroy social security, medicare, medicaid and other domestic programs Americans agree in overwhelming numbers are necessary to our nation’s well being. 

    You may disagree with this assessment but I think you would agree that our president will be nominated and that in most down ticket races, incumbents will win their primaries regardless of whether they are blue dog or progressive. Given that political reality, there is no good reason for progressives to take the rodent tactic as you describe it. Infiltrating the GOP primaries in significant numbers would severely damage the party especially as such progressives vote strategically down ticket as well for extremists who cannot defeat the Democrat or for libertarians who can possibly oust blue dogs in the general election. By all means if there is a competitive race between a blue dog and a progressive down ticket in your district, vote in the Democratic primary. But if not, there is much to be gained from jumping ship to punish the GOP. 

    Lets make the general election debate about how deep to cut the military and how to distribute the savings.

  • * no reason why progressive should not take….