So I was hesitant to write this for several reasons. The biggest one concerns the fact that I start school in a week and I really don’t feel like wading through the deluge of crazy bullshit that usually accompanies the comment section whenever someone challenges the 4Chan style hive that is the Ron Paul support base. However I’m also bored and I need to hone my flame war skills for next semester. So here it goes.
Being a Liberal used to mean something. It meant that you voted with your conscience and that you supported an expansion of
“rights” (i.e. codified legal protections to all people in this society we all live in) based on the shared value of citizenship. In the wake of WWII, liberalism meant using the awesome war machine that keeps this country safe ONLY when absolutely necessary in order to prevent another holocaust. But most of all liberalism (or at least the way that I embraced it) meant supporting a society where every one had a place to sleep at night, food in their belly, and clothes on their back. Liberals do not want a society where the supposed “winners” get all the goods they can stuff down their gullet, and the poor “losers” who supposedly do not contribute as much to our wonderful country get the privilege of dying in the street and then being buried in a potters field.
This is why the rise of Ron Paul amongst people my own age is such an agonizing development and is so badly analyzed by the press. Ron Paul is not popular because of who he is or the vast majority of the absolutely stupid policies he espouses. Rather Ron Paul is popular because the Republican Party royally fucked up this country and the Democratic Party abandoned the principals (and lessons) of liberalism in exchange for sweet sweet corporate money. My generation is not stupid, rather we are desperate for a representative in the Government who will save us from the rampaging shitstorm that was caused by modern conservativism. Unfortunately my generation also has a short attention span, so many well-meaning people fell in love with this asshat instead of this dude (for example).
Why Paul is popular reason #1: THE WAR IN IRAQ.
The under-analyzed reason that Paul ascended to new heights within the Republican party after years of deserved treatment as a crank who voted as an old school isolationist was simply his party’s disastrous invasion of Iraq. Lets be frank, if Kerry had voted against the War in Iraq (or at least honestly explained why he was so wrong in voting for it) he would have probably beat W in 2004. Same goes for Hillary in 2008. In fact the current President gained much of his prominence in 2004 simply due to the fact that he was right about the single biggest foreign policy blunder this country has ever seen.
Ron Paul went against the wishes of his party and voted against the invasion, however make no mistake in believing that he is anti-war or anti-imperialist. Ron Paul is cut from the same cloth as the older discredited GOP, which was built on an isolationism at all cost plank that worked out disastrously in the 20th Century. In Ron Paul’s world there would be no war in Iraq, but there would also no US supported humanitarian missions in Libya, Haiti, or the Liberia. The desperate oppressed people of the world know that the US doesn’t care if they died under the yoke of some terrible autocrat because Ron Paul figures it was there own damn fault for being born in Kosovo or wherever.
Why Paul is popular reason #2: The War on Drugs is fucking stupid
This dual failure of our two parties to think straight and avoid being scarred into making decisions on the basis of how they are played on Fox News is how we got into the mess where Ron Paul seems reasonable or prophet-like. Let’s take the War on Drugs for example.
Ron Paul and his supporters are correct in asserting that this century-old War is a stupid waste of money that has resulted in a lot of people being unjustly imprisoned. Unfortunately simply legalizing everything from pot (which is a reasonable idea) to fucking heroin (which is beyond deadly and addictive) is incredibly idiotic and misses the point. The government does have a legitimate interest in keeping “hard drugs” or frankly any other insanely destructive substance with a limited benefit out of the hands of the public.
The difference between liberalism and jackass libertarianism is that liberals realize that relying on the “assumption of the risk” with a crack dealer (or a business that deals in cancer-causing chemicals) creates a risk of consequences that are so high that any legitimate society cannot except them. Liberals believe that these sorts of businesses, ones with high cost externalities, need to be “regulated” by the government. Regulation in this case means fines and possible criminal action for those who profit off of actions that cause unjustifiable suffering, not the declaration of a meaningless and amorphous “war” on a flawed industry. Regulation is why you can sleep at night without something like this happening.
Conservative ideology believes that getting high as a concept is so immoral that drugs must be disincentivized with harsh jail sentences and a massive overhaul of policing to constitutionally unacceptable levels of oppression. Liberals on the other hand realize that people like getting high, and that getting high in an of itself is not a bad thing necessarily. However liberals also realize that the government must prevent people from using drugs to the point where they damages one’s capabilities to act as a human being or when the cost to one’s health is so high that it damages the rest of society. This is why liberals support giant taxes on tobacco and the regulation of alcohol to where one drink at a bar will not cost you your sight.
Unfortunately since Democrats are by nature as scarred of being labeled “anti-war” as they are “soft on drugs” no one has ever articulated this nuanced (and correct) stance on drugs. This leaves the door open to cranks like Paul who wouldn’t mind if the country became a festering shithole full of crank as 1) he and his buddies could profit off of it and 2) he has guns so he doesn’t have to worry about anything. Again Liberals want a place where people are weaned off of drugs, conservatives want people beaten and raped in prison until they no longer want to get high (because you deserve it hippie), and Ron Paul thinks that natural survival will take care of the situation. Only one of these ideologies represents a sane way to run a country.
Why Paul is popular reason #3: People fail to realize that Welfare is a good and necessary thing
The failure to articulate the liberal message is not only confined to drugs and war. We also failed to describe why basic tenants of our social safety net are necessary to avoid creating the hobbesian, Mad Max-style hellscape that every libertarian society would immediately devolve into. There is something just simply wrong when Paul Krugman and Rachel Maddow are literally the only people left in the media who have to tell us that things like unemployment benefits, a minimum wage, the legal right to unionize, workplace safety laws, Social Security, TANF, and WIC are not programs that “enslave us” but are rather earned benefits that protect one’s life and prosperity and that are owed to somebody by simply being a citizen in this country. Listen to this speech from the modern founder of the Democratic Party and get really pissed off for a moment:
Isn’t that fantastic? Isn’t that the kind of empathetic affirmation of humanity that we need our leaders to believe in before they have the privilege of making decisions on our behalf? Now listen to this asshole:
Are you fucking serious. Freedom to die is what awaits you when you vote for this insane ideology. Talk about compassionate self-righteous individualism all you want. I want to grow old in a place where I know I do not have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. Again, the “government” in this country is YOU, the citizen, and everyone else who lives here. I prefer not to defame my neighbors or make a demagogue out of representative democratic power as a concept. Any Democrat who can’t point out how completely and transparently bogus (and corrupt) the libertarian way of thinking is not worthy of your vote either.
Why Paul is popular reason #4: Dead people tell no tales about how crazy the 1990’s were
Finally lets address the newsletters. There are plenty of reasons why any liberal should scoff at the idea of voting for Ron Paul (REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS are a big one) but these newsletters alone should disqualify him. I don’t care if they were ghostwritten or how obvious it was that the Romney campaign is behind their sudden unexplained prominence in the media after existing for over twenty years. This sort of rhetoric was extremely popular within the pissed off white guy community in the 1990’s, and they had a very real consequence;
Don’t recognize that charred building? That was what was left of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City after the domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh blew up a gigantic car bomb alongside it. McVeigh was inspired by the Turner Diaries, a novel containing the insane ramblings of Neo-Nazi luminary William Pierce. The book sold very well in the underground pre-internet gatherings of crackers like McVeigh at places like gun shows or through survivalist magazines. Ron Paul was just one of many politicians during this time to make money off of the fringe neo-patriot movement, which grew to new heights at that period as an economic rescission and the election of a Centrist-Democratic President allowed the GOP to use their angry white base to scare them of an impending “new world order” (sound familiar?).
Go ahead and read the newsletters. Get beyond the incendiary use of racisism, homophobia, and flirtations with anti-semitism and you still have a screed that plays into the paranoid delusions of heavily armed people with nothing to lose and the need to punish “the government” for causing all of there woes. Does Paul truly believe this warmed over John Birch Society crap? Maybe not, but he helped spread it and he made a serious amount of money off of it, so maybe that is even worse.
Is Obama the perfect candidate for a liberal? No. But since Russ Feingold is not running, Al Franken still needs time to develop, and Teddy Kennedy is dead, he is our best hope. The man has done much more fantastically great things than what the mainstream media gives him credit for, and many of the attacks from left are short sighted and frankly simplistic in their solutions (and to repeat Barney Frank, where the fuck where they in 2010?). In 2012 you need to march your ass to the polls to vote for him. Vote for Obama not just because the alternative has you voting for a legitimately insane candidate with an “R” next to their name, but because Obama ultimately has his heart in the right place, unlike some Texas congressmen that I know.
PS: I support drone assassinations, as should any liberal who would like to avoid invading literally every place where members of Al Qaeda like to hang out and plot destructive attacks against us. Oh and your indefinite detention BS started in the House under the GOP, and Obama already took care of it with a signing statement. Take these arguments into account when you start your flame war in the comments.