Friday, January 13, 2012

Sorry, Glenn Greenwald, but Ron Paul's no diamond in the rough

(Ed. note: For my part, I'll just say that I like Glenn a lot and admire his strong positions in support of civil liberties and against American militarism. But I also dislike Ron Paul a great deal and find it rather difficult to approve of any sort of liberal / progressive admiration for him, even if he's right on a number of key issues, more so even than most Democrats. He's just so terribly wrong on so much else. -- MJWS)


Barack Obama is running unopposed for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Admittedly, that may be the single most obvious observation made thus far in the 2012 presidential election cycle.

Sadly, it's one that deserves some attention -- particularly for politically plugged-in progressives who've willingly subjected themselves to the broken record of purely ideological, unabashedly partisan, and intellectually vacuous sound bites that comprise the score of torturous GOP debates held over the last eight agonizing months.

The blindly faithful Obamabots who initially cursed the bleeding hearts for even suggesting that another Democrat should challenge Obama for the presidency are now regretting that someone didn't step in. At least it would have elevated the national dialogue above the monotonous (and backward) calls for further deregulation, even lower tax rates, and the end of "Obamacare" that all of the GOP candidates have used as the foundation of their presidential platforms.

In the absence of a real Democratic primary, the party of sanity has been drowned out by the angry slurs of anti-government Republicans who've held a monopoly on the past year's mainstream political news coverage with more than 20 debates held so far -- and eight more scheduled before a GOP nominee is chosen and a Democrat is finally allowed to jump into the ring.

In the mean time, we can't allow the intellectual deprivation of 24/7 GOP primary news to turn us into conservatives.

I'm talking to you, Glenn Greenwald, and whoever stumbled upon your two-part, 8,500-word series on the superiorly progressive platform of Ron Paul.

Greenwald doesn't explicitly or implicitly endorse Paul. The blogger makes that quite clear in a novella-length clarification column dedicated to those who drew that fallacious and ridiculous conclusion from his original Paul piece, which touted the "anti-war, pro-due-process, pro-transparency, anti-Fed, anti-Wall-Street-bailout, anti-Drug-War advocate" and therefore "progressive" credentials of the Texas congressman.

"[I]t is indisputably true," Greenwald states, that Paul is "the only political figure with any sort of national platform... who advocates policy views on issues that liberals and progressives have long flamboyantly claimed are both compelling and crucial." He is "the only major candidate from either party advocating crucial views on vital issues that need to be heard." 
By "vital issues," Greenwald almost assuredly isn't referring to Paul's promise to abolish the Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, and Interior departments during his first year in office.
By "vital issues," we can all assume he's not talking about the libertarian stance of completely deregulating the financial sector or upending decades-old equality laws forbidding schools and businesses from discriminating against students and customers based on race, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.
He's talking mostly about Paul's staunch opposition to military intervention of any kind, in any case, for any reason, in any part of the world -- an idea, given the costly and embarrassing debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, that most Americans, particularly liberals, can support.

To that I say this: Hitler may have a non-alcoholic recipe for Manischewitz wine that's to die for, but that doesn't mean you should invite him to your bar mitzvah.

If Greenwald, or anyone else for that matter, is so desperate to find a candidate who is unequivocally, philosophically, morally, practically, and theoretically opposed to war, he doesn't need to scan the deserts of Texas with a metal detector looking for a bomb shelter full of libertarians.

Ralph Nader still lives in D.C. Chris Hedges lives in Princeton. According to Democratic Underground, Dennis Kucinich lives in a cardboard box somewhere in downtown Cleveland.

These guys may not be running for president, but each of them has as good a chance as Paul of being elected. Paul may get stage time, but what does that matter when only three percent of eligible voters tune in?

The American masses know the name "Ron Paul." They may have seen a "Ron Paul Revolution" T-shirt or heard his fans call in to morning radio talk shows and yell "Ron Paul" before abruptly hanging up, but other than the radical policy positions hyped by the media -- legalizing heroin and prostitution, calling economic sanctions against Iran an "act of war," abolishing "the Fed" (as if most Americans know what that means) -- he's just a cantankerous old man ranting about a fantastical conspiracy theory to castrate the government.

Rick Santorum believes children should grow up with two parents. I happen to agree, but sharing one idea about one issue isn't enough for me to write a 8,500-word screed touting Santorum as "the only political figure with any sort of national platform."

Besides that, the "vital issues" aren't war policies, transparency, or due process, and to claim that they are only perpetuates the decades-old notion that progressives are out-of-touch puritopians -- the reason why they've failed to live up to their namesake over the past 40 years. ("Terrorism" and "Afghanistan" rank just below "illegal immigration" on the American people's list of top concerns -- at four percent and three percent, respectively.)

Opposing war doesn't require that you morph into a gun-toting, deregulation-touting free-market libertarian. If you want to herald an anti-war viewpoint, progressive readers would be better off with a history lesson on Howard Zinn, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., or John Lennon. Leo Tolstoy might work, too. Nor do you have to make a hero out of a radical just because his policy position differs ever-so-slightly from the other dunces with whom he shares a stage during a primary.

President Obama may consider using this mind-numbing Republican primary election as a torture technique for all the U.S. citizens he indefinitely detains thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act, but we shouldn't let the fatigue we've suffered from this GOP freak show break us down to the point of praising a kooky libertarian's very unprogressive platform.

Ron Paul is appealing in theory because he has about the same record of advancing his libertarian views as liberals have of advancing theirs.

So he opposes war.

Whoopty-fuckin'-doo. So does Martin Sheen.

(Cross-posted at Muddy Politics.)

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