Election 2012

Ron Paul, Barack Obama and the Big Picture

Read this lengthy post by Glenn Greenwald and come back here.

Glenn is a gifted and extraordinarily tenacious writer with a massive vocabulary and even larger research folder. I personally like Glenn and we've occasionally corresponded via email.

But I continue to have serious issues with his approach.

Not every issue is weighed and prioritized equally. While I strongly disagree with the policy, ending drone strikes is nowhere near the top of my priority list, and neither is indefinite detention or drug policy. Illegal wiretaps are higher, as is the influence of corporate money in politics. (I hasten to note here that Greenwald supported the Citizens United decision allowing unfettered corporate money into politics under the wool of "free speech.") Yet none of these issues are near the top where women's rights, civil rights, the environment, financial reform, the economy, healthcare and ending the occupation of Iraq reside.

Therefore, I support the candidate who is most likely to achieve those priorities, move the nation, in general, in a more liberal direction, and I will continue to do so despite the heinous (yet lower priority) flaws.

To that point, I also understand the reality that no president has ever had a spotless record. How many civilians did FDR kill when firebombing Tokyo, or Truman when nuking Hiroshima/Nagasaki? Why did FDR indefinitely detain Japanese-Americans without charges? Why did Teddy Roosevelt write about white evolutionary superiority? Why did Lincoln suspend habeas when the Constitution explicitly enumerates the suspension of the writ as a congressional power under Article I? Etc, etc, etc.

American politics is about negotiation, compromise and the big picture. If we get too caught up in the sausage-making, everything seems ugly and no one is on our side. But when you're thinking about which candidate you'd like to support, it's important to look at the big picture in an almost historical sense, and ask yourself: 1) Who will move the nation closer, in general, to my values? And, 2) Who can actually achieve question 1?

Unlike President Obama, who is struggling to move the nation to the left and to roll back Reaganomics despite deeply entrenched partisan attacks against his very American-ness, Ron Paul, if he's ever elected president, would move the nation in a vastly more conservative direction. His historically right-wing congressional record proves this. He might have a more non-interventionist foreign policy, sure -- that is if he's sincere about his intentions and if he's able to actually govern without a strong party coalition. Some liberals might applaud Paul's foreign policy, but the clapping would be brief and muted as Paul's libertarian agenda would be totally indigestible. In every other sense, Ron Paul is farther to the right than anyone in Congress and any president in modern history.

In other words, and in the big picture, President Ron Paul would be a far-right conservative nightmare, leaving in his wake irreparable harm and a Brundlefly hellscape.

President Obama, on the other hand, is a politician who, while flawed like all the rest, has shown an aptitude to at least listen to and understand his opponents on the left. I'm convinced that if we make a strong enough case against an administration policy we disagree with, there's a solid shot at convincing the president to make a change. Ron Paul is completely immovable as evidenced by his continued opposition to the Civil Rights Act -- decades later. And no one on the left has a shot at convincing him otherwise.