I don’t know where Sullivan and Greenwald get off thinking they get to tell us what we think and how we ought to think, since neither one is a liberal. Sullivan thinks he’s a conservative, Greenwald is under the impression he’s a liberal and more liberal than thou at that, but both really belong to different wings of the same party of self-righteous self-regard. Actually, Sullivan is more of a liberal than he knows, just a liberal who can’t get over a schoolboy crush on Margaret Thatcher. Greenwald doesn’t have a political philosophy these days so much as a religion. At any rate, both think they know what should be bothering my conscience with regard to Ron Paul.
Guys, my conscience is fine. In fact, my conscience would have an easier time of it if I voted for Newt Gingrich than for Ron Paul. At least Gingrich understands that it is part of the job of government to make life better for people. It’s just low down on his list of things he believes government should do, below making Newt Gingrich rich and paying off the people who helped Newt Gingrich get rich, which itself is below the first job of making Newt rich. But even though I don’t want a lot of the kind of “help” a Newt-run government would offer, he still appears to believe that we’re all in this together, even if some of us are meant to get more out of it than others. Paul believes that the very idea that we’re all in this together is an evil. That we all owe something more than facile moral support to each other is what Ron Paul exists to deny.
Remember, Paul wants to get rid of FEMA for reasons that pretty much add up to his thinking that people in Galveston, Texas in 1900 were better off drowning and dying under the collapsing roofs of their blown down houses than they would have been having to suffer the tyranny of a government that would have provided them with a hurricane warning system, an evacuation plan, and money to rebuild. He’d rather see the contemporary city of Galveston wiped out by another hurricane than pay the taxes to support a government that would help save it because that government, besides taking his money, would have the power to make him treat black people at his medical practice and let them move into his neighborhood.
Ron Paul believes we’re each in this for ourself.
Greenwald and Sullivan argue that Paul forces us to choose between our supposed principles. But he doesn’t since he stands firmly against our first principle, the one from which all our other principles arise, which is that we are all in this together and the reason we have a government is to help us help each other make things better.
Of course, there’s a How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? aspect to this argument. Ron Paul is not going to win the Republican nomination. He’s not going to be President. I don’t know what a third-party run would do, except not put him in the White House. If it had any effect at all on the outcome of the election that effect would be either negative or negligible. Either he would help elect President Romney, something this liberal does not want, in which case what Paul forces me to choose is which of two ways I could vote to bring about what I would regard as a bad day for liberalism. Or he helps Obama get re-elected, which I believe would happen anyway without Paul on the ballot, the outcome I want and which I can better help bring about by voting for Obama directly.
So, no, Andrew, no, Glenn, Paul doesn’t force me to examine my conscience any more than any other intellectual gameplaying does. It might be illuminating and even useful in the An examined life is the only life worth living department, but it’s not going to keep me up nights any more than knowing that if I could go back in time to prevent the birth of Bud Selig I would do it.
But, what the heck, let’s play the game for a bit.
Ron Paul doesn’t present me with a choice because he doesn’t offer the choice.
Presidential candidates don’t run on platforms that are like Chinese menus. You don’t get to pick one issue from column A and one from column B. You take a candidate for all in all. And all in all Ron Paul’s brand of libertarianism---Liberty for me but not for thee if thou are somebody who in taking advantage of your liberty would get in the way of me doing whatever the hell I want---is or ought to be repulsive all in all to every good liberal, no matter that a few of the things he would like to see happen are also on a liberal wish list.
But then there’s this. Once elected, Presidents don’t get to be their own all in all. They only get to do what Congress lets them do. And no Congress, Democratic or Republican, is going to let President Paul rein in the National Security State or dismantle the military-industrial complex. It’s not likely that even a generally liberal Congress would let him end the war (on some people who use) drugs and even if it was so inclined he’d still need the cooperation of fifty state legislatures. BUT…it’s easy to imagine what a Right Wing Congress, like the half of one we have now and which we’d be likely to get in full if liberals abandoned the Democrats to vote for Ron Paul (or not vote at all) would let President Paul do.
No good liberals should have any trouble from their consciences in rejecting the idea of a Ron Paul presidency out of hand. It’s a very simple proposition.
Under President Paul, one way or another, Galveston drowns.
Kevin Drum says Paul is pretty much the dictionary definition of crank.
Over at Cogitamus, Sir Charles does a thorough job of explaining why Paul’s views, the seemingly acceptable and the utterly awful, are all of a piece and how Paul’s “liberatarianism” is viciously anti-liberal.
(And a thank you to nancy for the shout out.)