Ron Paul's recent hold on first place status in the Republican Iowa caucuses continued to slip in the final hours before the vote as the stories about his not so libertarian past continue to emerge.
While he claims to support personal liberty, many of his policy positions would do little to help the liberty of ethnic or sexual minorities. While he states that he believes marriage equality is the province of the states, he is now saying that he would have supported the Defense of Marriage Act were he in office at the time of its passage, and he even went so far as to introduce the We the People Act, which would prevent Federal courts from hearing cases on LGBT-rights cases.
Additionally, he opposes the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prevent employment-based discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Paul also opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended racial segregation of schools and businesses, on the grounds that it violates the rights of businesses. He voted against reauthorizing the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2006, citing property rights and claiming that it was too costly.
Paul's economic policies, while consistent, would serve to benefit the most fortunate Americans. He supports a 10 percent "flat" tax, which would drastically cut taxes for richer Americans, while punishingly raising them for the working class. He has also voiced a desire to cut Medicaid, which provides health coverage for low income Americans, and a desire to privatize Social Security, which would tie retirement accounts to the whims of the stock market.
Ignoring the fact that tens of millions of Americans have benefitted from the program, Ron Paul calls the Federal college loans a "total failure." His disconnect from reality is even more frightening when one learns that the United States is projected to be short 16 million college educated workers in 2025.
Recently, Dr. Paul got into even deeper hot water over political and investment newsletters published under his name back in the 90s that contained racist and homophobic content as well as conspiracy theories. Even more disturbing, in 1993, Mr. Paul sent out an 8-page direct mail solicitation that contained a concentrated amount of this prejudice and conspiratorial thinking.
Among other things, it warned readers of a "coming race war," and claimed that the government was planning to track citizens via new currency. This letter also stated that a "federal-homosexual" conspiracy existed to cover up AIDS, as well as that people with HIV/AIDS "enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick." To round things out, the solicitation referred to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which Paul voted against, as "Hate Whitey Day." At the bottom of this 8-page appeal for subscriptions is Dr. Paul's signature.
Overall as the reality TV show otherwise known as the 2012 Republican nomination process continues, it remains clear that Republicans still have no idea who they want to carry their banner against President Obama next November. So far, this has proven to be been a roller coaster of a spectacle, with dramatic raises and drops in poll support in the Republican party's desperate quest to nominate someone other than Mitt Romney.
Ron Paul's strong denials about his past do not match up with his past comments on these newsletters. In fact, during a 1996 interview with the Dallas Morning News, he defended racist comments made in a '92 newsletter, and claimed them as his own. The combination of the signed mail solicitation and his 90's support of many of the vile statements in the newsletter he published ought to make some reexamine his character.
Eric Dondero, a former assistant to Ron Paul for over 15 years, issued a statement on the website Right Wing News, in which he defended his former boss against charges of racism and anti-Semitism, however he did add that Paul was "personally uncomfortable" around homosexuals.
He recalled Dr. Paul meeting with a gay supporter, and refusing to use his personal restroom, instead asking his staff to find an "excuse to excuse him to a local fast food restaurant so that he could use the bathroom." Dondero also told of an incident in which Paul refused to shake the hand of a gay supporter, and "literally swatted his hand away."
Whether Ron Paul continues to ride this new wave of support to win in the Iowa Caucus, or whether he will follow his "anti-Romney" predecessors and lose support once he's in the spot light remains to be seen. While his political consistency is something to be admired in D.C., his policy positions and past actions ought to leave many progressives too bitter a pill to swallow.
Photo: Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex. (Charles Krupa/AP)