Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why I Am Not Supporting Ron Paul

If you were to listen to the cheerleaders in our gated communities of this country, you would think that Ron Paul was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  The near cultishness of these followers, including a close friend from my undergrad days, is alarming and yet at the same time amusing (rivaling any hippie commune in the late '60s).  There is just something about watching a white person under the age of 40 wanting to keep his stock options untaxed, and his porn unmonitored, that makes you wonder about the future of our increasingly trivial polity.

There is even an attempt by right-wing Ron Paul supporters to try to appeal to progressives to vote for their most favored libertarian.

Sadly, many of the libertarian lemmings on the left will be crawling over to the Ron Paul train on their hands and knees, as they always do (yes, Mr. Cockburn, that includes you) when faced with the possibility of selling their souls, but I will not be one of them.   Take the libertarian appeals with a grain of salt because they continually whitewash every single one of the less savory aspects of Ron Paul with ad hominems and defenses that would be handled quite differently if committed by someone they politically disliked.

Ron Paul: The Good Side

This is not to obfuscate the positive contributions of Ron Paul on issues that count (and there are a few).  One, he is opposed to our interventionist foreign policy, voting against the war in Iraq (although it should be noted that Ron Paul, in spite of what he and his defenders say, voted in favor of the war in Afghanistan back in 2001).  And this is not a recent or newfound position.  Paul has been one of the more consistent critics of our foreign policy since the beginning of his Congressional career, dating back to the '70s, opposing the existence of NATO during the Cold War.  He is the most vociferous and erstwhile opponent of our imperial ways of any presidential candidate in the two major parties since Dennis Kucinich.

Two, Ron Paul is the only candidate in the current presidential field (in the two parties) who openly condemns the war on drugs, our government's addiction to law enforcement tactics to execute this incarceration spree, and what it has done to us politically and economically.  Paul is not the only elected official willing to challenge the war on drugs and our prison industrial complex (the result of the war on drugs), but he is the only one who is running for POTUS who thinks this way.

In addition, Rep. Paul opposes the Patriot Act (from the start and still does to this day), the National Defense Authorization Act, and he is on record as wanting to abolish foreign aid to the apartheid state that is Israel.  Those are not minor stances.  He has taken them time and again, even to his political detriment in his own party.  It is also why he will never win the presidential nomination in the Republican Party (who supports all of those policies as a matter of principle).  It is also why I at least have some modicum of respect for Ron Paul and believe him to be the only member of the stupid party in Congress who is not bought and sold by some interest group.

None of these positives should be ignored when passing any judgment on Ron Paul or his ideological inclinations, and it is why I understand some progressives for taking a serious look at Rep. Paul's candidacy.

Ron Paul: The Bad and Ugly

Unfortunately, Ron Paul has a downside, and the reservoir of that downside is as immense and deep as any of the other congregation of bigots in the Republican presidential field.

No matter how much anyone wants to sidestep it, the blatant racism and hatefilledness of Ron Paul's newsletters back in the '90s is sickening.  Here are just some of the views that Ron Paul wrote/signed off on.

"If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be." - Ron Paul, 1992
"Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the `criminal justice system,' I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal." - Ron Paul, 1992
"We don't think a child of 13 should be held responsible as a man of 23. That's true for most people, but black males age 13 who have been raised on the streets and who have joined criminal gangs are as big, strong, tough, scary and culpable as any adult and should be treated as such." - Ron Paul, 1992
"What else do we need to know about the political establishment than that it refuses to discuss the crimes that terrify Americans on grounds that doing so is racist? Why isn't that true of complex embezzling, which is 100 percent white and Asian?" - Ron Paul, 1992

Contrary to the complaints by Ron Paul supporters of a media conspiracy in bringing up the newsletters, it is nothing new.  The media has given extensive coverage to the newsletters throughout the 2000s, even back when Paul ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 (the details of which I gave coverage to on this site).  According to Ron Paul, he never wrote any of this, or cannot recall it.  Paul himself has stated that he never read his own newsletter, but merely signed off on it.  It has been rumored more than once that Lew Rockwell (the chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute) wrote the offending passages which, if true, shows that racialist attitudes on the libertarian right are no less foreign today than they were 60 years ago when libertarians opposed the civil rights movement on the grounds of states' rights (the same enabling concept that makes them sympathize with those who owned the very people they denigrate today).

Even assuming that Ron Paul is telling the truth, and let us say he is, he signed off on this newsletter and employed a white supremacist to write under his masthead.  If he did not read it, he is even worse for being a fool and incompetent, something Paul is not noted for being, which led me to believe four years ago (and today) that he is lying through his teeth about writing/reading his old newsletter.  He almost certainly did read it before he signed off on the passages, at the very least (and likely wrote it).  In fact, contrary to what Ron Paul supporters will tell you, Paul himself took responsibility for what he wrote/signed off on (depending on who you believe) back in 1996.

Do I believe for one minute that Ron Paul is the second coming of the Ku Klux Klan?  No, that seems very unlikely when considering that Paul has never ran his campaigns based on those issues.  What is more more likely is that Paul wrote/signed off on the newsletter's racism because he knew such expressed sentiments with his (almost exclusively) white readership would sell.  After all, it was a profit-making enterprise, something that should be familiar to anyone who believes money is the most important thing in life.

Ron Paul and Libertarians: In the Heart of Evil

Position-wise, and most dangerously, like with all libertarians Ron Paul supports unregulated capital.  He can call himself an opponent of corporatism, but he only opposes direct government subsidization.  Something you will never hear Ron Paul say is that we should take it a step further and abolish all preferential tax credits for corporations (save for an abolition of the tax code) and for that matter eliminate corporate charters and contracts enforcement for corporations, since all of the aforementioned take place under the watchful eye of our government.  Why would he support such government ownership and oversight of the rules?  Because libertarians believe that corporations are humans and that we are atomistic individuals who should selfishly pursue money in this system of unfettered capitalism (i.e., economic stratification, poverty, and misery for most of the population).

That might not sound so horrible, if you have economic resources or if you play a game of Monopoly.  What Ron Paul does not stress and what his supporters hate to mention, is that this means the abolition of child labor laws, the abolition of the right to collectively bargain (and for any unionization, at least legal recognition [a 20th century invention in the U.S.]), and the abolition of public education and what remains of our lessening social safety net, particularly Social Security and Medicare, which Ron Paul has declared un-Constitutional and should be abolished.  Here is Rep. Paul in a more open moment.

Naturally, as a presidential candidate, Ron Paul has partially reversed himself and now states he likes these programs after all.  And the best way to preserve the social safety net?  By cutting the living daylights out of it, of course!

Think about this.  Ron Paul considers Social Security slavery, but wants to preserve it by abolishing education and public housing.   This hypocrisy should not sound unfamiliar because Rep. Paul feels the same way about those who have been real slaves in this country.  Again, I will let Rep. Paul speak for himself.

This is not some newsletter.  It is the honest expressions of the man.  Ron Paul supports the Confederacy and lives the illusion that the best way to get rid of owning other human beings is through market forces (i.e., buying their freedom and compensating those who owned and treated slaves like animals), even though the market supported and made slavery viable for over two centuries (the first holding company on the New York Stock Exchange traded and sold slaves).   This is not unlike his son's declaration that the civil rights movement was unnecessary because market principles (the real motivating fetishism of libertarianism) could have eliminated segregation.

What Rand and Ron fail to note is that these institutions were culturally and politically supported (and overwhelmingly so by those at the top of the racial caste), and no market in the world is going to change what politics and culture maintains (for example, there is a supply and demand for harvesting and selling of human organs, but our cultural mores and laws do not permit it).  Moreover, slavery in the U.S. became the most profitable institution in American history because (not in spite of) the capitalist industrial revolution with the invention of the cotton gin.  Actually, many historians date Eli Whitney's invention with being one of the economic rationales to spread slavery, which became a lightening rod politically throughout the early 1800s after U.S. expansion westward.  If Ron and Rand Paul had it their way, we would still be dealing with these issues today because they never would have adjudicated and resolved them in 1865 or 1965 (back when the market and Southern culture commanded their presence).

I am not of the mind that either of the Pauls are white supremacists.  They are libertarians and motivated by other factors first (primarily economic), but like with Barry Goldwater's opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act their ideology embodies its greatest weakness--to recognize that markets do not answer all problems in society and sometimes, dare the thought, government intervention is necessary to remedy quandaries not infrequently caused by their side, and politically and culturally defended as traditions in need of preservation (a phenomenon of the right that plagues us to this day on gay marriage).  And they recognize this, which is why the catchall defense for the failures of the market for libertarians is to blame what few government regulations that do exist (even when never used), or opine about the importance of maintaining unregulated capital over all else (even if/when they do not provide for optimal returns).  The blind faith in the correcting nature of their economic system (which encourages people with economic resources to dismantle the commons and segregate themselves from everyone else) borders on the kind of ignorance one typically sees in a religious person who rationalizes the inattentiveness of their skygod after a prayer is not answered.

The inability of libertarians to care one wit for someone who does not have disposable income is the most grievous part of their ideology.  Notice again the hypocrisy of a Ron Paul or most libertarians' refusal to want to abolish state-contracts enforcement or corporate charters, while simultaneously advocating for the elimination of the National Labor Relations Board and the right of a working person in this country to form a labor union and collectively bargain for a higher wage (since that means legal and state recognition of such organizing, which situationally is interpreted as 'big government').  And that is the kernel of the evil, yes, the evil, of libertarianism and of laissez-faire capitalism.  The legal/state preservation of the owning class over (and at the expense of) everyone else.  It is why at the end of the day the right in this country supported and fought to preserve slavery, opposed the abolition of child labor, opposed unions, opposed the income tax, and public education.  Libertarianism (just a more socially liberal strain of conservatism) is an ideology centered on the negation of civilization and denial of society to dodge paying its bills.  That is the fatal flaw of libertarianism and no cutbacks on military spending and non-enforcement of anti-terrorism laws will ever be able to mitigate it.

Sounds like a harsh judgment to our stockholding friends?  This is the world we lived in before the age of child labor laws and the 8 hour work day (maladies that were abolished by government, contravening market forces).

This is the kind of society we had before there were unions, OSHA, and safety regulations for workers, like coal miners.

About half of my family tree was wiped out by that industry in the pre-union and pre-OSHA days from black lung and mining accidents.  The fate of those men (my grandfather, great grandfather, great-great grandfather, and at least a dozen great uncles and cousins, all killed by that industry's safety standards under the invisible hand) is of no consequence to the libertarian because, after all, it is the market and the market can never be wrong (and should only be 'corrected' by trying to buy it).  Like the tollbooth, to the libertarian we are only human if we can afford to cross their arbitrary/state-sanctioned and enforced rule of corporate humanness.  Otherwise, we are just expendable atoms.

If Not Ron Paul, Who?

I know what I have written is heretical to the Ron Paul supporters and will get me flamed or red-baited, but I do not care or expect a libertarian to understand.  You cannot be that narcissistic and then pretend to care about people outside of your life after reading one blog post.  It is an appeal to anyone who views those below the upper 1% income tax bracket as full citizens that should be given equal treatment and the same opportunities in life.  To them, to you, who should I vote for?

If you read this blog or any of my posts, including the ones in the 'best of' blogroll, I am no friend of Barack Obama.  I voted for him back in 2008, knowing that I would not vote for him in 2012, foreseeing many of his betrayals.  That is because Barack Obama was never a real progressive.  Yes, that is hard for Ron Paul supporters or any person who watches Fox "news" to believe.  You think he's a Communist.  A Communist who gave us a "government takeover" of healthcare.  You will never hear them tell us how a government subsidy for a private insurance plan is the same as government ownership and takeover because to them if the government so much as passes wind at someone less fortunate than they are, then that is Communism.  I debated a fellow once, where I live in the South (yes, he is a native Southerner), who assert to me that libraries were Bolshevist because they were supported by government.  That is how reactionary our politics has become in this country, a contribution given to us in part by the Ron Pauls and libertarians.

Barack Obama, the "Communist-socialist Islamist," is the same "Communist-socialist Islamist," who has given this country payroll tax cuts, extension of the Bush tax cuts (after running against them), support for free trade, opposition to a single-payer healthcare system (real socialism, for those of you paying attention), appointed a deficit panel that wants to gut Social Security, caved in to Republicans for a Congressional (and extra-Constitutional) "super" committee to legislatively address the deficit (and put Social Security and Medicare on the table for cuts), and appointed to his economic team the very people (Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers) who pushed for the recension of the Glass-Steagall Act back in the late '90s, helping to facilitate our economic collapse in 2008.  I either anticipated or knew all of that was coming (excepting the Bush tax cut extension), and yet I still voted for this man, just to spite the Republican Party of the Bush era, which I blamed partly on voters like myself who pulled the lever (or punched the chad) for Ralph Nader back in 2000  (buyer's remorse is always 20/20).

What I did not expect, and what has disappointed me to no end, is the level of depravity and constant flip-flopping of the Obama administration on the few issues he ran on back in 2008 that attracted me to vote for him, especially on the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, and national security vs. civil liberties.

This was Barack Obama back in 2008.

In the past three years, President Obama has gone back on every one of those sentiments (with the notable exception of an executive order banning torture).  The current administration has supported the extension of the Patriot Act, warrantless searches (which he previously critiqued as violating Constitutional values), turned whistleblowers like Bradley Manning into criminals (after giving support to laws that would protect them), and has expanded on George Bush's actions with even greater calumnies, like having a personal private hit list filled with the names of alleged (but not charged) terrorists (including American citizens), who are to be killed on sight by our government.  No charges, no trials, just murdered.  This administration has already killed our own citizens in this manner.  We afford trials for the likes of Jerry Sandusky and Jeffrey Dahmer, but if you are deemed to be a terrorist (on the word of one person [with absolutely no legal oversight]) then you can be killed.

And then there was the National Defense Authorization Act.  President Obama has threatened to veto the bill because of his opposition to some parts of the legislation.  But like with our pullout from Iraq, it is not a policy outcome he wants.  Indeed, he supports the worst parts of the bill, according to one of its sponsors, Rep. Carl Levin.  And just what are the worst parts of the bill he supports?  The arrest and detention of American citizens by the U.S. Army without warrant, held (potentially for life) without charge or access to an attorney and family.  In essence, the current administration in theory is supporting (or so reassured by one of the bill's sponsors) the ability of the U.S. government to disappear its own citizens, negating the Fourth and Sixth Amendments, habeas corpus, and the Posse Comitatus Act.   On my most cynical day as a voter in 2008, I never anticipated or imagined this.  

On account of the aforementioned, and these are only some of the administration's deviations, I will not and can not in good conscience support his re-election. 

So, if not Ron Paul or Barack Obama (or anyone in the Republican field), who should I support?  I honestly do not have an answer at this point.  I only know who I will not be voting for, and it will not be Barack Obama or Ron Paul.  Why sell my soul to vote for one imperfection over another?  If I do vote for anyone, it will be a real progressive, something which those of us on the left need to take to, instead of going into a coalition with people who want to abolish the tax code (and this country's poor) so we do not go to war over moderated believers in the system and all of its moles.  These candidates are two sides of the same coin, as much as they would like to portray themselves as being agents of change.  Doubt me?  Ask Ron Paul and Barack Obama their view on universal government-run healthcare.

No comments: