On Voter Priorities

If you’re going vote, no candidate will take your every position, so you weigh priorities. That Ron Paul has caused such a progressive uproar speaks volumes about where those priorities lie

A Response to Taryn Hart.

As his infamous newsletters resurface, as he gains national support, and as the Iowa caucus is held today, Ron Paul is all over the damn Internet, especially in progressive circles. Matt Stoller, Mike Tracey, Robert Scheer, and Glenn Greenwald – among many others – have all written compelling pieces on the liberal debates surrounding the noted libertarian.

Taryn Hart, who blogs at Plutocracy Files (whose Occupy Wall Street interview work I recommend), joins the discussion to critique Greenwald’s article, and since she requested my thoughts, I’ll provide them here. The piece is called “Glenn Greenwald on Ron Paul: Why Worldview Matters.”

A preliminary reminder: Hart is not among the primary targets of Greenwald’s piece. The article, entitled “Progressives and the Ron Paul fallacies,” first and foremost takes aim at progressives who support Obama over Paul and continue to tout their anti-war credentials. As Hart makes explicitly clear in her first footnote, she does not “support Obama nor justify his actions as President.” Hart has claimed she is considering not voting, and I hope she revisits that discussion soon.

But she is a progressive, and the question of support for Paul, or at least his candidacy, remains. Hart’s criticism of Greenwald’s argument goes like this: 

Specifically, Greenwald’s argument assumes that all that matters is a candidate’s positions on isolated issues – as if it’s just a matter of creating a ranked pro and con list for each candidate and crunching the numbers.

Greenwald suggests choosing between the candidates is just a matter of prioritizing a limited list of isolated issues. However, it’s not just a candidate’s positions on individual issues that are important**; what’s also important (in most instances more important) is the candidate’s worldview. A President’s worldview will determine the outcome of thousands of decisions the President will make, almost all of which will not be campaign issues and many of which are unforeseeable.

First, I take issue with the “isolated issues” claim – one I think trivializes progressives’ stance. Paul opposes our current wars (hot, cold, covert, on drugs, and on whistleblowers), opposes imperialism, has called American corporatism a route to “soft fascism,” supports Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks, has praised Occupy Wall Street, and opposes the Patriot Act and the growing surveillance and police state. These are many issues that progressives (especially under Bush) have supported in the past, and they are hardly isolated – reducing the military-industrial complex would reduce our national deficit, removing our troops from the Middle East and ending support for Israeli apartheid would have drastic effects in global relations, to comment on just two.

Furthermore, though, I have a problem with the argument that voters don’t prioritize a list of individual issues. I agree that ideally we’d have candidates who supported our worldview and subsequently would take all the positions we’d want them to take, but the fact remains that we don’t. I get the feeling that Hart would support someone like Ralph Nader or Dennis Kucinich, if they were running. But since we’re discussing who actually is running, and therefore who could actually be the next president, I’d argue that voters do prioritize their lists of issues. Since there will never be a candidate who supports all of our positions, and since Hart is not arguing (here) against voting altogether, I think it’d behoove Hart to reconsider Greenwald’s brutally honest hypothetical, which she quotes and denounces:

It’s perfectly rational and reasonable for progressives to decide that the evils of their candidate are outweighed by the evils of the GOP candidate, whether Ron Paul or anyone else. An honest line of reasoning in this regard would go as follows:

Yes, I’m willing to continue to have Muslim children slaughtered by covert drones and cluster bombs, and America’s minorities imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands for no good reason, and the CIA able to run rampant with no checks or transparency, and privacy eroded further by the unchecked Surveillance State, and American citizens targeted by the President for assassination with no due process, and whistleblowers threatened with life imprisonment for “espionage,” and the Fed able to dole out trillions to bankers in secret, and a substantially higher risk of war with Iran (fought by the U.S. or by Israel with U.S. support) in exchange for less severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, the preservation of the Education and Energy Departments, more stringent environmental regulations, broader health care coverage, defense of reproductive rights for women, stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities, a President with no associations with racist views in a newsletter, and a more progressive Supreme Court.

The point is, someone is going to be president come 2013. If you’re a progressive who plans on voting, you cannot ignore this set of choices. This is a limited version of “lesser-evilism,” or voting for someone who holds positions you dislike in favor of someone whose positions you dislike even more. But for me at least, and I am a progressive who values Paul’s candidacy without endorsing it, it’s a very specific one that puts my anti-war, pro-civil-liberties stances first. It’s saying that if you’re going to choose a lesser evil, stop arguing that Obama is the lesser evil on these many important issues.

There are many examples of liberals putting specific values first. Balloon Juice writer DougJ proclaims:

For a liberal like me, who is primarily interested in the well-being of the American middle-class and in providing opportunity for everyone in the United States, regardless of race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion etc., I just don’t see why I should be “challenged” by Ron Paul. I understand that if you’re a liberal who is primarily interested in civil liberties and a less bellicose foreign policy, then you might be conflicted about Paul. But to me, he’s just another racist asshole who wants to fuck the American middle-class.

DougJ is explicitly arguing that the “well-being of the American middle-class” is more important than the lives of the Muslims we’re killing abroad, which he callously disguises as a “bellicose” foreign policy. This reads to me as arbitrary nationalism, dressed up as righteous middle-class protection.

David Atkins, in a particularly pedantic lecture, distorts this prioritizing here:

It’s true that some liberals are so legitimately incensed by President Obama’s transgressions on civil liberties that they are inclined to support Paul in the same way that a person obsessed with illegal immigration might support a hardline anti-immigration Democrat over a Republican like George W. Bush or John McCain. But both of those cases are standard single-issue monomanias. Neither case speaks to any sort of real ideological hypocrisy.

Atkins ignores the other aforementioned progressive stances to minimize the importance of civil liberties in favor of his preferred issues, like regulating corporations and a woman’s right to abortion.

Worldview does matter, but it can be easily overstated. Atkins argues with Paul’s worldview, even when it aligns with his positions:

Ron Paul is against the drug war, yes, but for the same reasons he is against preventing factories from dumping mercury in our rivers: he opposes any sort of intervention at all by the government to assist those in need, or to stop those who would do harm to others, except in the most simplistic cases of the use of force.

Ron Paul is against foreign interventions, yes, but for the same reason he opposes providing healthcare to sick people: he believes that the U.S. government should not be in the business of interfering against almost anyone, on behalf of anyone else.

J.A. Myerson approaches Paul’s foreign policy similarly (emphasize in original):

Yes, Ron Paul’s aversion to foreign policy leads him to adopt a host of positions that are very attractive, but they don’t come from a humane or sophisticated ideology.

To paraphrase both: I agree with Paul’s conclusions, but I disagree with how he got there. Both are putting the ideology above the policy, as is their preference. But if they’re going to be honest about their priorities, we must examine the consequences of those decisions. Is it really OK to allow the continued slaughter of innocent civilians just because it’s in the name of a president who claims to be a liberal? I can hardly stomach typing it out.

Everyone who votes prioritizes in some ways. If you’re arguing against prioritization, you’re arguing against American electoral politics (and I’m with you! Let’s talk about that!). But if you’re going to vote, no candidate will take your every position, and so you value some things above others. That Paul has caused such a progressive uproar speaks volumes about where priorities really lie.

37 thoughts on “On Voter Priorities”

  1. thanks for the discussion. You’re the first in this mega-exchange who has even mentioned Nader, and I’ve found his absence from the discussion interesting–as he is so relevant to some of the claims being made. Perhaps he so traumatized the Dems. that he no longer exists for them. Wishful thinking on their part. I also think a distinction needs to be drawn between Liberals and Democrats. There is arguably as little space for liberals in the Democratic party as there is for moderates in the GOP.


    1. Thanks – I agree, I think Nader and Paul raise a lot of the same problems, both bringing out the hypocrisy and eroded values of the Democratic Party. I wonder what effect a 3rd-party left-wing candidate would have, or if Gary Johnson will gain traction if there isn’t one.


      1. I hope media will let us hear from Johnson, they’ve done a pretty good job of silencing Roemer. Rocky Anderson with the Justice Party and Jill Stein With the Greens are both in and pretty solidly progressive on peace and justice issues, I believe. I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone like Roemer running with Americans Elect. Regardless, I think as the Super Pac contest rolls on for the next 9 months, the conditions will be ripe for a third party candidate (or two) to get a lot of support.


  2. “Ron Paul is against the drug war, yes, but for the same reasons he is against preventing factories from dumping mercury in our rivers”

    The latter half of the sentence is an oft-repeated accusation against Paul, but it is untrue.

    Yes, Paul opposes government regulation of the environment. There’s a case to be made for that position.
    Even if we set the cost of bloated bureaucracies and the inevitable corruption aside, what government really does is *legalise* pollution — by establishing a lower boundary below which pollution shall not be considered pollution.

    As things are, a factory can dump certain amounts of mercury (if that’s not true of mercury, pick another example, it’s not difficult) in said river. If you happen to have riverside property downstream, to be fishing in that river and eating the fish, and get sick — because for instance you’ve got some genetic peculiarity that makes you several magnitudes more receptive to mercury than the population average based on which the gov’t experts established their regulations — and seek recourse, then you’re out of luck, because the factory hasn’t done anything illegal.

    Rather, what Paul envisions is protection of the environment through *property rights*. No one has the right to pollute another’s property, period. The environment would be protected — in the courts run by the government — via people protecting their property.

    As a welcome byeffect, it eliminates a huge swath of corruption and the taxation necessary to run the bureaucratic apparatus. So while I’m not certain it would be perfect, considering what we have now, I’d be more than willing to give it a try.


    1. “Rather, what Paul envisions is protection of the environment through *property rights*. No one has the right to pollute another’s property, period.”

      I don’t care about property. I care about people (especially me).

      This is where Libertarianism falls flat.

      What happens if I rent a property built on land that was previously used to dump toxic waste? Do the owner’s ‘property rights’ trump my own rights not to be poisoned? Even if the property owner is responsible for the condition of his property and how it affects me, how do I defend my interests? What possible incentive does the offending property owner have for letting anyone assess the condition of that property? How will I aquire the resources to take on a much wealthier opponent?

      Property rights often incentivize destructive, or even criminal behaviour. Property is a source of conflict; not a magical solution to it.

      We are all born equally naked — utterly devoid of property. That is our natural state. Property can come later, as in our culture, or not at all, as it does in some aboriginal societies. My point is government is our cultural response to the necessity of divying up scarce resources. It isn’t perfect, but it’s all we have to pursue common interests.

      I admire Ron Paul’s commitment to civil liberties, to dismantling the Fed and rolling back the Empire. I welcome his candidacy and I’m grateful that someone is willing to make the arguments he does. Still, some of his policy proscriptions would generate catastrophic results. Only Paul’s most ardent believers believe otherwise.


      1. Your understanding of property rights as being unrelated to human rights is deeply flawed. Every human right depends on property rights. Freedom of Speech is impossible without a printing press, a radio station, a newspaper or at least a “home” base from which to disseminate your speech. Where do you build your church if you have no property rights? Property rights are simply the HUMAN rights to property. We all need a place to live a place to work a place to worship or a place to organize with fellow atheists.

        How does one make use of their right to life, if they have no right to the property that is their home? How does one defend oneself without the right to own the means of self defense?

        Some liberals like to pretend that property rights are somehow antithetical to human rights. But this is completely wrong. When the Nazis rounded up the Jews and threw them in Concentration Camps, taking away their homes, their businesses, even their clothing, were you thinking Oh well that is JUST a violation of property rights? NO! That was a cruel cruel repression of human rights to property, without which none of could ever feel entirely safe.

        Claiming that property rights are secondary to human rights is the same thing as saying that human rights are secondary to human rights. My car is MY car because I traded the fruits of my labor with the car dealer. If you TAKE my car, you have stolen my labor. The very same labor that I use to purchase ALL the necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, electricity, and so forth. Property is how I secure my right to live where I want, travel where I want, read what I want, shelter myself and my children.

        If you DISS my property rights you DISS my right to live.


      2. A renter and a property owner are very different. A renter has the right to leave because they have no stake in the property, they are more mobile with their decision. The property owner has the stake, he or she has the vested interest. If the property is being rented for the need of money then the concerns of those who won’t rent unless it is addressed becomes the focus. The free market takes care of things like this.
        Laws take care of individual well being when one is harmed. Laws hold the property owner liable if he has caused harm.
        Ron Paul says, we are entitle to life and liberty. If a person life is threatened by someone else’s misconduct then there will always be legal recourse.
        Property rights protect the owner. Individual rights protect the renter.


      3. You don’t research positions carefully and you don’t know what libertarianism is.

        Property rights are not arbitrary rights. Property rights are rights because they are product of your labor and labor is a product of your body. Since you own your body and have rights to your body, no individual or corporation can poison or pollute your body. Your property also includes your body.

        You should do some honest research before you post nonsense.


      4. Your body is also property; just as your thoughts, your labor and by extension other physical property, such as land. So people are their own property.

        The landlord’s rights wouldn’t trump yours in the example you gave because you enter into a contract to rent that property. If he knew about the toxic he would be liable just as if he sold or rented you any other faulty product …it would be “fraud”. If the factory polluted your rented property you would have the right to go after the factory also. You would get the resources the same way as now, lawyers who work off a commission.

        “Property rights often incentivize destructive or even criminal behavior. Property is a source of
        conflict; not a magical solution to it”

        It is the absence of respect or outright violation of property rights that causes the above. The factory polluting your rented property is a violation of your property rights. A more basic example would be a rapist violating an individual’s right to, property, their body ; I doubt you would blame the concept of a person’s right to their own body for the act of rape.

        “My point is government is our cultural response to the necessity of divvying up scarce resources. It isn’t perfect, but it’s all we have to pursue common interests”

        I guess it would depend on what an individual sees as the role of government. If one believes, as I do, that government’s role is to protect property rights, to include, harm from each other, then “divvying up scarce resources” comes from the mutual consent to trade. This then is how we persue common interests; when government is injected into it, the tendency is to favor one individual or group over another. Government’s role is to step in only if there is a violation, such as theft or fraud. Not to create and decide who the winners and losers are.


      5. “I don’t care about property. I care about people (especially me).

        This is where Libertarianism falls flat.”

        Perhaps it’s just where your understanding falls short.

        The “pure” libertarian view is that your body (like your work) is your sole, absolute property, thus entitling you to protection by law of your rights in that property to use when and as you see fit without coercion by others, including the state.

        Libertarians, for that reason, are often opposed to draft conscription and laws against prostitution and drug laws which cannot be shown to significantly protect health (property rights) of others.

        Nevertheless, some libertarian might readily sign up for military duty (many do) and never visit carnal houses or grow pot. Other libertarians might choose the opposite behaviors.

        Libertarianism has nothing to do with forcing any particular personal choices on others. It’s about promoting liberty of persons to exercise choice to the fullest extent possible without infringing the liberty of others to make different choices. That is not to say libertarians don’t have strong personal opinions or disapprove of personal choices made by others. Most do both. But to preserve their own liberty, they know they must assure full liberty must be enjoyed by others.


      1. Is Paul the perfect candidate…far from it. I disagree with a number of his views. But I encourage all of you to read his latest book before you pass judgment on some of the issues you are discussing. I think you may find we have more in common that you realize.

        About the issue of rights…Paul is for human rights above all. Your right to do whatever you want as long as you don’t harm someone else or their possessions. So in the case of pollution that was brought up. You shouldn’t pollute because you are ultimately harming someone’s else. Property rights are just an extension of your human rights to live without someone harming you or what you have. And a way to enforce pollution without the government corruption. You don’t have to own property to have the right to be protected from someone’s pollution. Property rights are just a way of enforcing. Understand?

        Paul also stated in his book that he once would have believed that a woman had the right to chose birth until he became a doctor. He saw small children less than a pound being born and living. He came to believe that a small living being should have the same rights as anyone else. Through abortion, a mother’s choice is harming another’s right to live. He values all life and believes all of it has value no matter what the person’s size, color or age.

        This belief he also extends to rights about marriage. He believes adults have the right to marry whomever they wish, man or woman and the problem is that the government has no right to define that nor regulate it. The definition of marriage should be between the people marrying and not the government. And that if you removed the financial benefits from our tax system, the issue would go away.

        After reading his book their is no way you can ever accuse him of being racist, unfair or unjust.


      2. Freedom isn’t perfect, but if you have courts/judges that respect individual property as much as corporate property, you would have stricter restraint on pollution than the legalized pollution from the EPA.


      3. “So, only those who own property can do anything about mercury poisoning (or whatever was inserted into your example)?”

        Do people just not do any research at all, ever? My god, you’d think 10 honest minutes of actual looking up the facts would be the norm.

        Your body is your property – actually do some research before you make up your mind. Anyone who makes up their mind before they know all the facts is a fool.


      4. Some of these decisions and stances boil down to not one hypothetical but ALL hypotheticals .. or rather .. you cant try to single it out so hard without considering the implications on the whole instead of just the select .. if 60% of the people were on wellfare and you had a vote *increase or decrease healthcare* because the budget cant afford it .. 60% would say increase it… this is why the forefathers put in you had to be a land owner to vote .. a landowner who mismanged would soon be without .. however this scares everyone without land to the depths of thier bones because lets face it .. paying your workers shit increases profits.. but whats “fair” value? … how much is one soldiers life worth? and will he ever really get paid? Do service men and women even get the day off on veterans day? however going back to it onces your off is just as poor.. look at the gold standard .. Ron Paul didnt want to leave it but that doesnt mean he wants to go back to it.. by comming off of it allows people to buy it all up with printed money easily made/available then switch it back and only 10 people have real currency. same with housing markets .. inflate the market and price by giving out loans to people who u know cant afford it, so they belly up down the line, in turn decreasing overall housing/land prices. you then buy it up cheap switch back to only land owners vote BAM instant win. not going to happen.. If you dont want to live in a toxic landfill then dont rent from there.. if thats your only option … deal with it .. it soon will be our only option if we dont pay attention to where our current policies are trashing this place. watch Ron Paul address congress on April 24th 2002 and tell me “he’s out of touch” or listen to him in the 80’s over the gold standard.. listen to the auctual points people are making instead of getting caught in a breeze that is 85% of the time propaganda meant to mislead and sway instead of inform. If advratizing companies put out adds like these campaigns they would be sued.. ommiting facts with the intention of misleading is lieing .. manipulating the words specificly to make them seem like they are saying something they are not is lieing as well.

        Our country used to know how to deal with liars and manipulators in government that use thier stations for personal gain. It was called Treason.

        They knew that our government would be infiltrated… freedom and liberty gives an open door to evil as well as good. by over regulating and only allowing select few to enforce the justice they have the “time/resources” for u dont prevent evil like intended but reduce the ability to affect real justice to those who deserve it.

        Now if you were to approach a government with trason-like charges you’ll be more or less labled a “enemy of the state” and be hauled off without warning, charge, trial, or anything resembiling what we declare we protect.

        And you are now free to move about the country as we see fit and do whatever you want so long as we approve it.. if you want to open a lemonade stand to teach your kids about business you better have my $150 for the permit or well burn it down and arrest folks because “we dont know how that lemonade is made”, so what if we never come out to check how its made after you pay us, your job as citizens isn’t to question our legitimicy, you job as citizens is to keep the machine running so we can sit high on our hogs and make 10k bets with eachother over nonsense then work harder to recover our losses because were to big to fail.


    2. I would also hope that as a free society we could support a non-profit legal group that would come to the aid of property owners and sue the pants off anyone polluting the environment. I think this is very realistic in that many Americans would be willing to support such a legal group or increase support to existing groups. As to the other government departments, there activities are varied and complicated. To simply take a postition that all government agencies are “good” and must be preserved seems as bad as saying the alll, or at least 5, must go. It is complicated and requires a good deal of research to ascertain exactly what they do and whether or not they are worth their cost.


  3. My question would be what is Obama’s worldview? I would argue it is something along the lines of neoliberal imperialism. A libertarian bigot versus a neoliberal imperialist? I think I’ll stick to the individual issue calculus rather than the worldview test.


    1. Or is it even worse? Is Obama just a (very attractive but vacuous) sock puppet for the 1% ? Willing to pull on whichever worldview is expedient for the moment.


      1. The one who protects all our rights equally is hardly a bigot, and the one who signs them away (NDAA) and continues to bomb 3rd world countries without concern for their rights is the bigot.


      2. “Texas Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul is not a racist and is being smeared as one because he is a clear threat to the political establishment.”
        – Nelson Linder, Austin president of the NAACP


    2. Ron Paul isn’t a bigot. His entire political life has been a struggle for individual rights – that is all libertarianism is – the philosophy of individual liberty.

      Do some research for crying out loud.

      Ron Paul is heavily inspired by Jewish scholars such as Ludwig Von Mises (Austrian Economics) and has been on record for providing free healthcare for people of all colors.

      This is the third ignorant comment I’ve seen I really hope people are reading.


      1. “This is the third ignorant comment I’ve seen […]”

        There will be many more. Most people adopt opinions requiring the least possible effort and least discomfort their established prejudices. We are where we are because a majority of them also vote.


  4. FWIW, “Progressives”;

    Currently incarcerated in a federal penitentiary for the crime of selling seeds, Marc Emery, the “Prince of Pot” (60 Minutes, Rolling Stone), endorses the good doctor. Says Emery:

    “You’ll never meet a candidate for President of greater integrity and honesty. …

    “Ron Paul believes in the people of America, the ordinary citizen, and his policies reflect a treasured commitment to liberty, individual freedom, the sovereignty of the individual – unlike the current President, who has embraced the cynical, corrupted cronyism of the elites.

    “And Ron Paul is an incredibly decent man, he has never betrayed my support of him or his belief in individual freedom, sound finances, the liberty of the people. …

    “There is no man I believe in more on this whole planet than Ron Paul.

    “It is with this urgency and passion I ask you to join with Ron Paul and his campaign for President.”



    1. Marc Emery’s endorsement is worth slightly more than nothing. One, it seems to be a single issue recommendation. Two, that he is imprisoned for selling seeds does not make him an authority on anything but cannabis and, perhaps, the drug war. Three, Paul’s integrity is belied by his two-faced response to his racist newsletters: on one hand he has defended the contents; OTOH, he has denied authorship.

      Paul’s “belief in individual freedom” does not include women, a fact that he hides behind “states’ rights.” While his critiques of the Fed have much validity, libertarian economics–including a return to the gold standard–are deeply in the realm of fantasy: Libertarianism is juvenile http://bit.ly/uT1SYx


      1. Paul’s belief in individual rights does include women, but it also includes the baby which you seem willing to ignore. He hasn’t hid it behind anything, his first book was on the very subject, Abortion and Liberty.

        It’s interesting to see the Civil Rights movement of this generation has found new champions in the unborn and gays. You can’t discount the rights of any group.


      2. Individual rights include all individuals – including the unborn. Libertarians and all people can reasonably disagree over when life actually begins – his support of life doesn’t extend into a struggle to impose his beliefs on life over everyone – the Federal government has no authority to dictate to the states what policy over abortion that state settles on. His legislation proposed would neither fund nor prohibit abortions.

        The right of a woman’s choice ends where the unborn child begins, because that child has a right to his or her life just as a woman has a right to her life.

        “While his critiques of the Fed have much validity, libertarian economics–including a return to the gold standard–are deeply in the realm of fantasy: Libertarianism is juvenile.”

        Ron Paul predicted the entire collapse while almost everyone else was busy laughing and mocking him. This is far away from being “juvenile.” Ron Paul was correct to predict the housing crash and the recession. Obama and the establishment, including the GOP, were wrong.

        What is juvenile is the ridiculous belief that we can spend our money into oblivion and spend our way into prosperity. You have no credibility over the economy. Ron Paul has the credibility.


      3. You are not really being fair to Ron Paul on the race issue. He is very far from racist. It is against his entire being. If you are interested, you can see dozens african americans come to his defense on youtube. One notable man tells the story about how RP served his wife in the hospital free of charge, when no other doctor would treat her because of a mixed marriage. I say with full confidence that race is not on RP’s mind. He could care less.

        I agree with you on RP’s stance on abortion and states rights, well put. In this case his position is definitely contrary to individual freedom.

        There have been some great libertarian thinkers with in the likes of John Locke, Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand to mention a few. It is a mistake to be dismiss libertarians as juvenile. They have some ideas that are very important to people who value peace and prosperity, including myself.


  5. I don’t remember hearing all of this talk about the importane of ideology with Obama.

    And I agree with the comment about this being similar to Nader’s presidential campaign. There was similar anger on the left, even more so than at someone like Lieberman that openly supported a Republican presidential candidate.

    The truth is, a large amount of people on the left are more Democratic partisans than they are ideologically driven individuals. Which is fine, but we might want to think about the tribalism that keeps us more connected to them than to some on the right that we might have some overlap with.


  6. I think your characterization of DougJ’s attitude might be unfair, given his use of the phrase “For a liberal like me,” which to me indicates personal concern, not a demand that every liberal adopt this concern as primary. But I can’t read DougJ’s mind, so I dunno if that’s what he actually thinks.

    One more point: Greenwald’s hypothetical compares the promises of a candidate to the record of an incumbent. That is a MAJOR distinction, one worth noting. Good thoughts,
    ~ LFS


    1. DougJ was discussing his personal concerns, but it was in the context of other liberals “conflicted” about Ron Paul, so I inferred some prescriptive thinking. Either way, I meant to cite him as one of several self-identified liberals prioritizing their concerns – I think he does so in a way that minimizes our various wars.

      On your second point, I agree — promises of any type, and especially those of a candidate, should be considered suspicious. I’m always in favor of examining actions over words. On this I think Paul’s actions in congress have thus far proved his words as a candidate to be an accurate reflection of how he’d govern.

      Thanks for the comments!


      1. I also think that Paul’s actions in Congress demonstrate that his heart’s in what he says on the campaign trail. How much policy success he’d have, at least w/r/t the areas in which he and I agree, I think we’d all be interested to know that. But crystal balls are few and far between these days.


  7. I enjoyed reading this thoughtful and honest feed. I support Ron Paul because he is line with most of my values. I support civil liberties over a “safe” military state. I support economic liberties in exchange for a social safety net. However, I disagree with him on two important issues, abortion and states rights.


  8. If we can believe the government accountants, in less than 13 years, at are current rate of spending, there will be only enough tax revenue coming in to cover the interest payments on the debt. In this respect, I believe Ron Paul is the only candidate taking a serious look at our spending. If the price of maintaining a social safetly net is eliminating government departments that have not been successful, especially the department of commerce, than I say do it. As far as the outrageous military spending goes, that is something he can address immediately as commander-in-chief since none of the current wars have even been declared. To return to the department of commerce, my research shows they basically provide welfare for corporations – what a waste of taxpayer money. Lastly, follow the money. Opensecrets.org shows that both Romney and Obama do very well by the very banks that cheated the American people out of billions of dollars. If you still feel the race is an “our guy against their guy” instead of a referendum then my argument will fall on deaf ears. The only anti-establisment candidate in this race is Ron Paul. Thanks for reading and I hope you keep an open mind.


  9. Where is there any critical thinking about Ron Paul’s extremsit views?
    Why not tell it like it is? Ron Paul’s extreme views are not even a part
    of the debate for those who are trying to choose our next President.
    All that are offered up are Ron Paul’s less than sincere anti-war position.
    He voted for going to war with Afghanistan.f All that are offered up for discussion
    are the Newsletters he wrote way back when and his positions about
    Homeland Security. Every clock is right twice a day and some of Ron Paul’s
    positions are correct. The focus on reasonable sounding Libertarian views.
    are somehow welcome but where is the outrage about Ron Paul’s positions about
    the poor and powerless. Ron Paul would crush the poor with his Libertarian hammer.
    Ron Paul would end the safety net for the Middle Class. Wait until a Ron Paul
    Tea Party President gets a chance to vote and veto away the hard fought gains by
    women, racial minorities, elderly and disabled. Ignore Ron Paul’s radical
    views about Civil Rights at your own peril. Ron Paul says he would have never
    voted for the Civil Right’s Act of 1964.For whatever reason you came into the camp
    of Ron Paul’s cult-like followers,know Ron Paul means what he says about reversing Civil Rights:

    Women: Ron Paul says that if a woman is sexually harassed, she should
    just quit her job and move down the road. Do you you realize this is a
    prescription for tyranny?

    Minorities: Say what you want about illegal aliens but how about just plain ole
    Americans who are not White. Ron Paul says that a restaurant can serve whomever it
    wants to and hire whatever employee it so chooses. That sounds very Libertarian and
    maybe it even sounds right until you figure out that once Ron Paul’s policies are enacted,
    a Black man can then be refused access to the same water fountain as a White man if the
    owner of that water fountain happens to be White. Ron Paul hides his racism, since he decided
    to be a national candidate, inside of Libertarian principles.

    States Rights: Ron Paul is for giving States the power to say who votes in elections:
    If that is not a blank check for race based voting then nothing is. In South Carolina,
    that State is making it so a picture ID is required to vote. It sounds reasonable,
    until you realize that this State law will disenfranchise up to 200,000 registered voters,
    who are mostly ethnic minorities. Left handed racism is what Ron Paul stands for. If you
    do not get it then you are ignoring the facts. Before Civil Rights, if States did not agree
    with your position and you were outspoken about it, lynch mobs were not only common, t
    hey were sanctioned by the State and local governments.

    Tyranny Ron Paul style is not just about protecting women and minorities. Ron Paul
    will also end the Civil Rights for the Elderly and Disabled. That means you, if you live long enough..
    There is no There is no recourse for those are discriminated against and are not wealthy in
    Ron Paul’s Libertarian world. If you become disabled and hungry, you are not the right complexion
    or gender, then just die from a heart attack without insurance or starve.

    You can pretend all day long that Ron Paul’s ideals are mainstream and credible but wait until
    a Ron Paul or Rand Paul gets the Potus nod and wields the Libertarian hammer and veto power
    that comes with the Presidency. The Civil War was about States Rights. Ron Paul is a Civil War
    Revisionist. He may not be elected but you rest assured that either his son Rand Paul or some other
    racist hiding behind the veil of Libertarian will attempt to reverse Civil Rights. For those who are
    are not rich like Ron Paul and are subjected to immoral or amoral actions of those who hold power
    over others than either move on, starve or die. That is Ron Paul’s Liberty.The majority of Ron Paul
    followers are white & male for a reason. The abuses by privileged good ole boy rich white men
    were the reason for the Civil Right Act of 1964 and Ron Paul would by policy and
    veto power set back the suffrage movements to an open Racism and Sexism of decades past.
    Ron Paul is an old school bigot with pretty words of Liberty but I don’t like Ron Paul’s version
    of Liberty.


    1. As far as the Civil Rights act is concerned, Ron Paul supports the provisions that end government enforced racism, such as segregated public schools, and the like. By definition, private property means that the owner has the right to discriminate and exclude. You might not want me in your house/restaurant, that’s your choice. It is not a racist position, it is a matter of value judgement. A racist has very poor judgement and he will suffer for it by alienating not just his customers, but all of civil society.

      You don’t have to get at mad me. I’m just trying, like everyone else, to understand the world and make the best of it. Politics is a very difficult nuanced subject.


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