5 Reasons Progressives Should Treat Ron Paul with Extreme Caution -- 'Cuddly' Libertarian Has Some Very Dark Politics
This article has been updated.
There are few things as maddening in a maddening political season as the warm and fuzzy feelings some progressives evince for Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the Republican presidential candidate. "The anti-war Republican," people say, as if that's good enough.
But Ron Paul is much, much more than that. 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.
Paul first drew the attention of progressives with his vocal opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Coupled with the Texan's famous call to end the Federal Reserve, that somehow rendered him, in the eyes of the single-minded, the GOP's very own Dennis Kucinich. Throw in Paul's opposition to the drug war and his belief that marriage rights should be determined by the states, and Paul seemed suitable enough to an emotionally immature segment of the progressive movement, a wing populated by people with privilege adequate enough to insulate them from the nasty bits of the Paul agenda. (Tough on you blacks! And you, women! And you, queers! And you, old people without money.)
Ron Paul's anti-war stance, you see, comes not from a cry for peace, but from the deeply held isolationism of the far right. Some may say that, when it comes to ending the slaughter of innocents, the ends justify the means. But, in their romance with Ron Paul, what ends do Paulite progressives really seek? The end of war, or simply payback for a president who has let them down. And for that payback some seem all too willing go along with means, that if allowed to come to fruition, involve trading the rights and security of a great many Americans for the promise of non-intervention.
Here's a list -- by no means comprehensive -- of Ron Paul positions and associates that should explain, once and for all, why no self-respecting progressive could possibly sidle up to Paul.
1) Ron Paul on Race
Based on his religious adherence to his purportedly libertarian principles, Ron Paul opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Unlike his son, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Ron Paul has not even tried to walk back from this position. In fact, he wears it proudly. Here's an excerpt from Ron Paul's 2004 floor speech about the Civil Rights Act, in which he explains why he voted against a House resolution honoring the 40th anniversary of the law:
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty; it also failed to achieve its stated goals of promoting racial harmony and a color-blind society. Federal bureaucrats and judges cannot read minds to see if actions are motivated by racism. Therefore, the only way the federal government could ensure an employer was not violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was to ensure that the racial composition of a business's workforce matched the racial composition of a bureaucrat or judge's defined body of potential employees. Thus, bureaucrats began forcing employers to hire by racial quota. Racial quotas have not contributed to racial harmony or advanced the goal of a color-blind society. Instead, these quotas encouraged racial balkanization, and fostered racial strife.
He also said this: "[T]he forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty."