Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ron Paul

I know there are a few folks out there who still kind of like Ron Paul, and even though he's not in any danger of being elected (unless he uses all that money he raised and isn't spending to launch a third party run), it's be really annoying if he turned into a sort of Paul Tsongas of the right, lionized for being "too pure" for the electorate. As a geek, I get it. You can't look at our Constitution and derive our current system of government any more than you could read the Bible and derive the religious right. That doesn't bother me personally, as I'm results oriented, but it clearly drives process geeks nuts.

But Ron Paul is not a good guy. As a preventative measure, here's my list of reasons why Ron Paul should not be supported by anyone, with the obvious exception of the people who've been fans of his for decades:

1. Dave Neiwert, who blogs at Orcinus, covers the Pacific Northwest white supremacist beat, and he's been hearing Ron Paul's name for decades as "one of us" from them. This post is a good intro. Here's more.

Is it really fair, though, to demonize him simply because many of his views happen to be the same as those held by white supremacists? He has said that "they'll be disappointed" if they expect him to be a racist. But:

2. He hasn't returned any of the money they've given him, or donated it to charity, or anything like that.

Of course, maybe there's a principle at work there. Don't know what it might be ("What's mine is mine"?), but it's possible. But:

3. His newsletters from the 70s, 80s and 90s are full of the most revolting, bigoted nastiness. See here and here.

His defenders hear these attacks and respond "He is not a racist" but offer no evidence for that assertion that I have seen. Still, let's take that assertion at face value. Ron Paul is not a racist. Or a homophobe. But he is apparently willing to exploit and encourage those sorts of beliefs in others as long as it gets him votes or makes him money. That's opportunism, not idealism.

4. He wants to close a bunch of federal agencies, reduce the regulatory burden on corporations, and roll up the social safety net. "Property Rights" seems to trump everything for him, including consumer product safety, the environment (Google "tragedy of the commons" to see why this a problem), and civil rights.

5. A handful of other policies, including a return to the gold standard, show a bizarre nostalgia for the late 1800s combined with an appalling historical ignorance (he seems to think that Lincoln started the Civil War by freeing the slaves).

5. He's opposed to abortion rights, and has said that he "never saw one time when a medically necessary abortion had to be done." I've talked about this before, but abortion rights is one of those areas where the rubber meets the road in terms of personal liberty. Kind of like Neo-Nazi rallies and free speech.

Imagine, for just a moment, what Ron Paul, or any other libertarian, would say if the federal government passed a law that required all homeowners in this country to register in a lottery, and the "winners" had to provide lodging in their house for national guardsmen, police officers, or fireman. But never for more than nine months at a time.

Don't want a congressman sleeping in your house? Well, you should have thought of that before you became a homeowner. You don't have a guest room? Better buy a bigger couch, then, huh? Compensation? Please. These are heroes. You want them sleeping on the street?

The fact that many people would (and in fact do) volunteer for such a program doesn't give the government the right to mandate it. Outlawing abortion would be just the same, except that it's requiring you to have a guest in your body, not just on the couch. And Ron Paul, civil libertarian, thinks that's fine.

To sum up Ron Paul's universe, the federal government should not be allowed to tell you what to do with your money or your property, but if you get pregnant, they should have the right to force you to give birth and, presumably, to perform good prenatal care. On your own dime, of course, since he wants to get rid of Medicare.

If you're a geek looking to pick a candidate, please consider the above points, and then consider this.

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