Ron Paul 2012

I have come to the sad realization that Barack Obama is a massive failure. Ron Paul would’ve been a much better choice in 2008 and likely in 2012, even for a left-leaning libertarian like myself. I’m not saying that I would vote for any Republican over Barack Obama. Obama is at least marginally less repugnant than most of the Fox news endorsed yahoos like Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. Nor am I saying that I agree with Ron Paul on everything. I don’t. But there seems to be no reasonable Democratic candidate who will deliver on any of the issues on which I do disagree with Ron Paul. Given that fact, the rational choice, the lesser of two evils, is the Republican. It’s not hard to see why. Just consider what Obama has delivered and compare that to what Ron Paul would’ve delivered.

I’m basically a libertarian in the Robert Anton Wilson mode, someone who likes nature and doesn’t hate taxes or poor people. Welfare doesn’t bother me but sending airplanes halfway around the world to kill a bunch of poor villagers does. With that in mind, let’s consider the issues:

Healthcare: I want a reliable, single-payer system that ensures everyone has access to reasonable health care. On this issue Ron Paul would’ve delivered exactly what Barack Obama has: absolutely nothing.

The economy: Keynes described the state of the economy we’re in 70 years ago. Massive government intervention is called for. However, that intervention should focus on shoring up people’s incomes and support systems, not the bonuses of Wall Street bankers. Here Obama may have actually done a little bit better than Ron Paul would’ve done. However, he hasn’t done nearly enough. This minor improvement is hardly justification for the continuing torture state endorsed by Barack Obama.

The environment: freedom stops at the next person’s nose. Pollution doesn’t. Regulating emissions and protecting the environment is a proper function of government. We need much stronger environmental regulations and government enforcement thereof. And once again, Ron Paul would’ve accomplished exactly what Barack Obama has: absolutely nothing.

Foreign-policy: this is the area where Ron Paul really shines. Barack Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay. He didn’t. There is at least a reasonable possibility that Ron Paul would’ve actually shut the torture prison down by now. Barack Obama promised to get us out of Iraq within a year. He didn’t, and there’s no exit date in sight. Ron Paul would have the troops out by now. Barack Obama promised to expand the war in Afghanistan and kill more people, and this is one promise he delivered on. Ron Paul would not have done that.

The Supreme Court: Barack Obama’s one choice so far for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, isn’t awful but neither is she great. Perhaps she’ll become another Earl Warren or Thurgood Marshall, but I’m not betting on it. I suspect Ron Paul would have nominated a candidate at least this good for the Supreme Court, though doubtless there’d be some differences from issue to issue.

Immigration: as a libertarian I believe in free and unrestricted movement of people. I see no reason whatsoever that anyone who wants to shouldn’t be able to walk across the border (any border) any time to seek work or for any other reason. On this issue, Paul is decidedly not libertarian. He seems to believe that freedom is only for native-born Americans, and voted for the erection of fences to restrict the freedom of movement of Mexicans. But so did Barack Obama. Recently, Obama has proposed cutting the funds for further extension of the border fence. However, I suspect Ron Paul would eliminate the militaristic checkpoints stopping all drivers in the Southwest. Again, I don’t really like Paul or his stand on the issue, but he’s not significantly worse than Obama.

Marijuana: Barack Obama claims to be okay with medical marijuana, but this is belied by the continued arrest and persecution of cannabis clubs in California and elsewhere. Ron Paul simply wants to legalize it. Advantage Paul.

Crime: Democrats have long been accused of being soft on crime, whereas Republicans have long been accused of being criminals. The last two administrations have proven both of these calumnies to be true. The Bush/Cheney administration was the most criminal in American history, and the Obama administration has completely let them off the hook. I don’t know if Ron Paul would have actually prosecuted the criminals in the Bush administration had he been elected, but he certainly couldn’t have done less than Barack Obama has.

I could go on with many other issues — freedom of choice, Palestine, government surveillance of citizens, welfare, etc. — but on issue after issue, Paul ranges from significantly better than Obama to no worse. When you get down to it, the only thing that Barack Obama has really delivered in the last year and a half is a slight improvement in credit card terms and a brief extension of unemployment benefits. By contrast, if Ron Paul had been elected, Guantanamo would be closed and we’d be out of Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s hardly an ideal scenario. The economy would still be in the toilet. Global warming would still be pushing us toward complete environmental disaster with no effective action from the government. Tens of millions of Americans would be without adequate health care. But how is that any different from the situation we’re in now? If the Democrats can’t deliver on Democratic issues like the environment, healthcare, and the economy, then we might as well vote for a Republican who would at least deliver on not torturing and assassinating people.

12 Responses to “Ron Paul 2012”

  1. John Cowan Says:

    You’re doing the equivalent of comparing two programs, one of which you run every day. The other you have never run but only looked at the claims on the box. This is, to be sure, unavoidable in this situation, since “President of the United States” is a singleton, but it means that such comparisons can’t be taken any too seriously.

    I mean, suppose Bill Clinton had lost to Bush I in 1992. Then all us good civil libertarians would have been sitting around and saying “Well, at least he would have given us national health care and full rights for gay people in the military”.

  2. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    I’m assuming Ron Paul wouldn’t get everything he wanted–I see no feasibility of ever returning to the gold standard, for example, nor do I think we should–but given how little Obama has actually accomplished, it’s really hard to see how a Paul presidency would be worse, and it could be a lot better.

    I voted for Obama the first time because I thought he might actually do something about the issues I cared about. He didn’t. Now we know. I’d rather pick a relative unknown who at least offers some possibility of improvement over someone we know won’t get the job done.

    The proper analogy is not Clinton in 1992 when I voted Democratic for the same reasons. It’s Clinton in 1996. By that point he was an obvious failure, and I supported Nader. The difference this time is that there’s a chance there may be a Republican who’s not as bad as the Democrat. That wasn’t true in 1996.

    As long as the Democrats only pay lip service to progressive issues without actually delivering the goods, don’t look to us to support them. Since Nixon, they’ve played this game of moving just a teeny bit to the left of the Republicans and expecting everyone to fall in line. That’s not going to work. It lost them the election in 2000, and it may well lose them the election in 2012.

  3. Joseph E. Davis Says:

    The problem is that both parties have wandered far afield from our founding values of individual freedom and responsibility. It is a terrible shame, and it’s going to take some kind of calamity to reverse course, I’m afraid.

  4. Jimbo Says:

    Interesting thoughts. I had actually thought long about Ron Paul before John McCain won the Republican nomination. Although I also do not agree with many of Ron Paul’s opinions, I would have voted for Ron Paul if he had been the Republican candidate instead of McCain. My investigation of Ron Paul showed that he had voted in Congress exactly the way he said he would vote before those votes. That was not at all so of McCain and less so of Obama compared to Ron Paul. I am pretty much in line with the opinions of Elliotte Rusty Harold. The environment is very important for me, I don’t think preventing people from crossing borders does anybody any good in the long run, I am against torturing anybody and I am also for handling captured suspected terrorists in accordance with existing laws. I think everyone should be able to get at least a minimum in the way of health care and I have no problem with paying higher taxes for social programs, but do not want my taxes paying for bombs to kill innocent farmers half way around the world. I am very disappointed that Obama, who got my vote in the last Presidential election, has failed on almost all fronts!

  5. Robert Young Says:

    No offense, but you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face, to quote my Pappy. The reason Obama has “accomplished” so little is that Fox and the Right Wingnuts have blocked everything which isn’t of themselves. The Senate is, to all intents and purposes, run by small minded people (of both parties, but all Right Wingnuts by virtue of being …) from small population rural states. This is governance by minority. The Democrats, who have represented the majority of the population at least since 1932, have been unable to enforce a party/ideological discipline when they are in either the majority or minority. The problem isn’t with the particular Democratic President. Paul is no solution. As one of my blogs is subtitled: “It’s the Distribution, Stupid”. Paul doesn’t understand this any more than the garden variety Right Wingnuts. What has got us into the mess is a simple fact: in 1980 1% took 8% of national income, in 2008 they took 24%. There will be no recovery (what capitalists are calling, consumer demand) unless and until most of the national income goes to most of the population. Paul would do nothing to advance that solution; if anything, he would continue the concentration. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

  6. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    I’m fully aware of just how responsible the Republicans are for this mess. However the bottom line remains, if the Democrats aren’t willing to fight the Republicans, why I should I support them? I agree that Ron Paul would likely not change the distribution any more than the Democrats have. So what? Again, we’re not comparing Ron Paul to some mythical Democratic president who actually accomplishes progressive goals. We’re comparing him to the Democratic presidents we actually get, uniformly a batch of ineffective, center-right, war criminal do-nothings.

    If Paul did nothing more than close Guantanamo and get the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan (which he could do by executive fiat without the consent of the blowhards on both sides of the aisle in Congress) he would have accomplished far more than Obama has.

    If Franken, Kucinich, Nader, Krugman, or some equivalently strong-willed progressive runs against Obama from the left in the Democratic primary in 2012, I’ll vote for them; but right now it looks like Paul may be the best a progressive can hope for. This does not speak well for the Democratic party.

  7. Robert Young Says:

    Elliotte, my point is that Paul-ists are assigning to him the ability to overcome Right Wingnut blockades where Clinton and Obama couldn’t; there is not a shred of evidence that he, or anyone not of the Right Wing, can do so. Focusing on the Presidential Candidate, while comforting, isn’t the solution. The solution is to organize the Democratic Party, such that it ejects Blue Dogs and other Right Wingnuts in Democratic Clothing, to have a party with cohesion. It will be smaller, more urban (well, less rural), more Coastal, but still a majority. Remember, Nader gave us Bush II. Why would you want to repeat this? Neither party feels its sphincter tighten when ad hoc third party candidates appear; they only game the process to send weak kneed other party voters to the third party; that’s precisely what the Republicans did with Nader. Creating a right wing Third Party on the other hand, where the Blue Dogs would likely end up, just strengthens the smaller Democratic Party. Add in the likelihood that the Palinistas take the Republicans further to the Right or create yet another “fourth party”, and the reality will end up being governance by plurality rather than majority. The Democrats win in this scenario, too. Remember, not even Teddy Roosevelt, a very popular president, could pull it off. The fact that we don’t have a sensible runoff requirement in national elections (and only one state, IIRC, which I don’t remember at the moment, does) is a constitutional error.

    And the final reason to not go Paul: the most important safeguard we need to protect is the Supreme Court. While Sonja may not be progressive enough for you, if another Right Wingnut gets to pack the court, remembering that the liberals are the oldest, you can kiss any thoughts of democracy goodbye. I’ll never forgive O’Connor her self-absorbed selfishness, and she recently had the gall to complain about the give away to corporations on campaign finance.

  8. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    We could pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan by executive fiat. Ditto for closing Guantanamo Bay and stopping, at least temporarily, the torture state. A president doesn’t need to overcome Right Wingnut blockades to accomplish this. What’s needed here is executive will, not Congressional cooperation. At this point, I think it’s obvious that Obama doesn’t want to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan or close Guantanamo.

    As to the Supreme Court, I think Paul would make some very interesting picks there. Like Paul himself, I suspect they would be demonstrably better than Democrats on some issues and demonstrably worse on others. I don’t believe Paul would pick the same kinds of wingnuts as the Bushes did. He might pick different kinds of wingnuts, but it’s certainly not self-evident that they would be worse than we’d get under a Democratic administration and almost certainly would be better than we’d get under a typical Republican administration.

    Now if you can figure out a way to convert the Democrats into a cohesive force for American values and nominate a strong progressive candidate in 2012, then by all means go for it. However until that happy day comes, don’t expect me to waste my vote on yet another Democratic war criminal slightly to the right of Ronald Reagan just because he mouths a few platitudes about a health care plan he won’t fight for while he’s busy bombing civilians and assassinating U.S. citizens.

  9. Tsu Dho Nihm Says:

    Interestingly enough, Ron Paul has just written an article about what he would do if he were president:

    He lists some very specific things that a president can do without working with congress.

  10. cubiclegrrl Says:

    “Libertarian,” my ass: Ron Paul is anti-choice, and the “let the states decide” weasling is dog-whistle politics, so far as I’m concerned. No deal. You don’t get to call yourself a “Libertarian” when you presume to tell half the population what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

  11. yuriyg Says:

    “Let the states decide” is the most libertarian stance a person in a federal government can take. However, whether abortion would be allowed in each of the individual states or not, that’s is something to decide within that state’s borders. Don’t take me for a pro-lifer, on the contrary, I think this is the best way to guarantee a woman’s right to choose. The last several years clearly demonstrated that the congress can be taken over by the christian right in matter of two or four year. If that happens, Roe v. Wade flies out of the window. But there’s no chance in hell that New York or California will ever make abortions illegal.

  12. Russ Says:

    I love it when people without a clue, argue. Apparently you kids don’t realize that the POTUS is a title only. The international banksters, in league with the media moguls and corporate chieftains run the show. The president just follows orders. Ron Paul if he were elected would try to break the bad guys stranglehold on power. He’d probably be killed for his troubles.

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