Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How Dangerous is Ron Paul Really?

Adele M. Stan, in her Alternet article, "5 Reasons Progressives Should Treat Ron Paul with Extreme Caution -- 'Cuddly' Libertarian Has Some Very Dark Politics," begins with a snide reference to Rep. Paul as an "anti-war Republican...as if that's good enough." Since he is the only anti-war Republican seeking the Presidency and there is no anti-war Democrat seeking the Presidency, perhaps that is good enough.

"But Ron Paul is much, much more than that," Stan continues. "He's the anti-Civil-Rights-Act Republican. He's an anti-reproductive-rights Republican. He's a gay-demonizing Republican. He's an anti-public education Republican and an anti-Social Security Republican. He's the John Birch Society's favorite congressman. And he's a booster of the Constitution Party, which has a Christian Reconstructionist platform. So, if you're a member of the anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-senior-citizen, anti-equality, anti-education, pro-communist-witch-hunt wing of the progressive movement, I can see how he'd be your guy."

Let us consider this litany of charges "lit by lit."

Ron Paul opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In 2004, Rep. Paul spoke against a resolution commemorating passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and it failed to achieve its stated goals, which, according to Dr. Paul, were promoting racial harmony and a color-blind society. To say that a law is unconstitional is not to say it is undesirable, any more than saying a law is constitutional affirms its desirability. Prior to 1913, a federal income tax was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. With ratification of the 16th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it became constitutional, though many argue it remains undesirable.

I never have read the Civil Rights Act of 1964, so I do not know if it states as its goals the promoting of racial harmony and color-blindness in American society. But I agree with Dr. Paul that racial dissonance and color perceptiveness are very much present with us still. Whether that is attributable to attempts to enforce the law is another matter. Dr. Paul sees a causal link. Does that make him anti-black?

..and supports racist organizations.

The evidence Stan presents for this charge is the fact that Paul "occasionally appears at events sponsored by the John Birch Society, the segregationist right-wing organization that is closely aligned with the Christian Reconstructionist wing of the religious right."

First, Ron Paul is a politician. Politicians are notorious for going wherever there is an audience that will listen and, hopefully, give money. Second, while the John Birch Society did indeed oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sociologist Stuart A. Wright has stated that "their political racism however was no different from both Republicans and Democratic politicians of the time," according to Wikipedia's article on the JBS. In the absence of clear evidence that Ron Paul is a racist, Stan considers it enough to say he is at times seen in the company of people who may be racist. Should we all stop attending family reunions?

...and espouses racist views.

This charge is based on an article in The New Republic that cited allegedly racist statements in newsletters published under Ron Paul's name. The only comment acually cited in Stan's article concerns the L.A. riots of 1992. Paul has stated, according to Stan, that the remark was not his, that he finds it offensive and that he accepts responsibility for not monitoring the content of his newsletters as carefully as he ought have. No case for Stan so far.

Ron Paul wants to overturn Roe v. Wade.

This is true. Not only does he believe Roe was a misinterpretation of the Constitution, but he has introduced a so-called "Sanctity of Life" bill that would forbid federal agencies or courts from any involvement in the abortion issue. States would be free to outlaw, or permit, abortion as they choose. While I disagree with Paul on this, his proposal is less radical than that of other Republican candidates who favor a nationwide ban on all abortions. As for President Obama, his rhetoric and legislative records are decidedly pro choice; however, in March of 2010, he signed an executive order that would preserve current limits to federal funding of abortion. This was part of a deal, no doubt, to gain pro-life Democratic votes on the health care bill. So a woman's right to choose to procreate or not is less than secure under the Obama administration.

Ron Paul is a homophobe.

This is based on one article cited in the same The New Republic article mentioned above, Again: Ron Paul denies having written those articles and, hopefully, is being more vigilant about what goes out under his name. From the fact that Paul supports the right of states to legalize same-sex marriage, if they choose, one can infer that he would support repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (which, incidentally, President Clinton, a "progressive" Democrat, signed into law). This puts Rep. Paul in the same ball park with President Obama, who opposes DOMA but would not force states to recognize recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Ron Paul calls Social Security unconstitutional and compares it to slavery.

Again, desirability and constitutionality are separate issues. If there are sound legal arguments that Social Security is unconstitutional, they have not made it to the courts in seventy-five years and I doubt they ever will. Put it in the same category with Barack Obama's views on legalization of marijuana -- people believe weird things.

Ron Paul never said that Social Security is equvalent to slavery. What Stan quoted him as saying was, "the courts said slavery was legal, too, and we had to reverse that." This was in response to a question from Chris Wallace about the 1937 Supreme Court ruling that upheld Social Security. Paul was not saying Social Security equals slavery, he was saying the Supreme Court is some times wrong. Think Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson -- see what he means?

Ron Paul supports Christian Reconstructionists and the John Birch Society.

More guilt by association. Was Ted Kennedy not a true progressive because he co sponsored legislation with Orrin Hatch? In politics, your friend is whoever is on your side at this moment. Different issues, different friends. That's how it works.

SO, what sets Ron Paul apart from all other Republican candidates and the only Democratic candidate for President in 2012?

Ron Paul is THE anti-war candidate. He is also THE end-the-war-on-drugs candidate and THE stop-trying-to-run-the-world-through-military-interventionism-and-empire-building candidate. Among Democrats and Republicans, that is.

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