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Why Do Some Progressives Support Ron Paul, Even Though He Is Anti-Woman, Anti-Civil Rights, and Anti-Equality?

AlterNet readers had a lot to say about Adele Stan's recent article explaining why progressives should think twice about supporting Ron Paul.
 
 
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Attracted by Ron Paul's opposition to foreign intervention and the war on drugs, some progressives find the libertarian candidate for president appealing, especially since his grandpa-like demeanor gives him an air of sweetness. But as Adele Stan noted in her AlterNet piece "5 Reasons Progressives Should Treat Ron Paul with Extreme Caution -- 'Cuddly' Libertarian Has Some Very Dark Politics," Paul and his politics are not so sweet. Sure, his opposition to war is a positive, but it must be considered in the context of his other positions, which are not, by any means, progressive. As Stan explained, 

"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."

Stan's article generated a lot of debate among commenters, with posts ranging from virulent defense of Ron Paul to meticulous debunking of his ideas. There was no shortage of emotion, nor lack of ideological assertions. 

The piece generated an astounding 1,723 comments, and they just keep on coming. Clearly, Ron Paul and libertarian politics are a hot topic for debate. Here is an overview of what commenters had to say.

Many suggested that Ron Paul's positions on abortion, gay rights and the Civil Rights Act simply do not matter. Because Paul is a champion of "freedom," they assert that their heroic leader would never enforce his opinions on others, but leave these decisions up to the states. 

okallright said:

These are all such funny arguments to me. Yes Ron Paul has voiced his personal skepticism on evolution but he hasn't ever said he's a creationist. The important thing though is that is his personal belief. I don't agree with him, but IT DOESN'T MATTER. That is the great thing about Ron Paul, he keeps his personal beliefs out of his politics. When he asked about these topics he says the same thing, that it's a stupid question and bears no importance to him becoming president. It's like asking him what his favorite color is. 

Jay Kras was typical of Paul supporters who saw no importance in Paul's personal beliefs:

Ron Paul is PERSONALLY against abortion but thinks it should be left up to the states to decide. He wants to repeal Roe v. Wade so that it can be left up to the states. I'm personally against abortion but I don't think I have that right to inflict my views on your choices in life. If you want to get an abortion, go for it. This is pretty much Ron's argument as well. How is that not enough for you? 

The response from progressives was clear: Leaving abortion rights up to the states does not protect women's rights to their own reproductive health. In fact, current legislation proves that it allows states to chip away at abortion access.  

Dan Hickey said:

It shouldn't be up to the states either. Repealing Roe v. Wade gives government at the state level the power to make that decision for women... and simply put, it's none of the states' damned business. "Let the states decide" is an excuse to cloak government interference with the false premise of states' rights. It's not about the rights of the states, it's about the rights of us as individuals. 

As commenter Kass Hales noted, states are already making reproductive decisions for women

First, please know that abortions by Planned Parenthood are privately funded and any funding that is withdrawn due to the state hurts preventable care, education, cancer screening etc. Not one abortion via Planned Parenthood is federally funded and please look at their audits on PP's site if you don't believe me. This is what states have done to Planned Parenthood.

Indiana prohibited Planned Parenthood from participating in the state's Medicaid program. Four days before Planned Parenthood's private funding ran out in Indiana, a temporary injunction from the federal court stopped the enforcement of the law which was preventing Planned Parenthood to participate in the Medicaid program. To make matters worse Indiana also has a law which instructs abortion providers to say that a fetus can feel pain at or before 20 weeks, which is medically unproven. In my honest opinion there should be no such law especially if there are no facts to uphold such a law....This is why states should not be allowed to ban/defund or have any control over abortions or any form of family care/planning!

Kass Hales elaborated:

"Why not let the state decide? " Because it's a federal constitutional question. The law doesn't force anyone to have an abortion. The law does not force anyone's religious beliefs on anyone else, it merely allows a woman to make a choice based on her personal circumstances. Anti-choice is anti-individual liberty. My point is if we allow the states like they are to continue their actions, many programs that help prevent unwanted pregnancies will be shut down. Sure women have the choice, but what good is the choice if they have no where to go?"

Other commenters were not impressed by Paul's isolationism

As Yellow said:

Ron Paul's position on the wars don't make him either a progressive or worthy of progressive support! So he's an old school isolationist ala William Jennings Bryan; I'm sooooo fuckin' impressed!! Like his fellow Texan, Rick Perry, he wants to entirely dismantle the federal government along with Social Security and Medicare! He'd also institute a flat tax at the federal level and cut all federal aid to states including funds for unemployment insurance! Then, he'd cynically leave it to financially broke states to provide what few services they could to the poor and middle class! The domestic economy would fall into chronic stagnation with only the top one percent surviving economically! He's only for the super rich!!

fuzzywzhe said:

"Ron Paul's position on the wars don't make him either a progressive or worthy of progressive support!"

Really? I want to hear you explain what you THINK Ron Paul's position on wars are.

How about Obama's views on war? He continued Iraq, Afghanistan and began Libya. 44 US soldiers are dead in Iraq so far this year. How much money is being spent on that? How do feel about the world's largest embassy in the world - it's being built in Iraq.

The mission in Iraq was to end the weapons of mass destruction program - a program that never existed. What's the mission now? Why are we still there? The mission in Afghanistan was to either capture or kill binLaden. That's been done. Why are we there now?

Victory Hemp said: 

There is one serious issue I have with libertarians. They are fervent about freedom but I take issue with their opposition to basic protections and safety nets for all. The difference I see between liberal and libertarian is that the former will choose to protect and care at all times which may be taken as overprotective by some. The latter choose to take an all hands out approach even in the darkest of days when help is needed. Some have looked at this as the same kind of behavior thieves in a gang display when they go desperate and break up with every individual for themselves, a true honor among thieves. The Republicans take the worst traits of nannying and leaving the sick and poor to die on the streets. For Ron Paul to choose to be a member of the Republican Party is more than enough to shred his credibility even as a generally Libertarian thinker. We have long lost a Democratic Party that used to think like Thomas Jefferson and FDR. If we could get that party back or help the Green Party rise well, we would have more objective thinkers of your type in power.

DocChaos also had something to say about the extremism of libertarians:

True libertarians seem to advocate keeping government out of morality all together. What they forget is promoting the general welfare and get caught up in austerity for all. There's a balance, but we won't find it until we take the corruption (and corporations) out of our election system. 

End the tax deduction for political contributions. Federally fund all elections equally. It would at least shorten the "political season" so someone would get some work done on OUR behalf for a change.  

Kristen Gwynne is a freelance writer and an editorial assistant at AlterNet.