Why progressives should not support Ron Paul


Ron Paul, the Republican congressman from Texas, has become a living legend for many due to his outspoken libertarian views. Perhaps many of his followers are attracted by his vocal drug-legalization views. Either way, he has attracted a multi-generational following that occasionally borders on cult-like status. They have been coined the "apostles of Ron Paul" by Mother Jones magazine.

Some of Paul's views have drawn the support of progressives who might otherwise be diametrically opposed to his Republican status. For example, he has steadfastly been against our massive deployments in the Middle East, as well as opposes the encroachments on our civil liberties found in the Patriot Act. However he holds several core policy positions, ranging from opposition to social programs to ignoring climate change, that should send progressives running.

Paul holds to the right-wing view that America is a Christian, rather than secular, nation. He steadfastly opposes the concept of the separation of church and state which has historically been viewed as being enshrined in the First Amendment's "establishment clause." Instead, he claimed in a 2003 article that "the notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers." He argued that, "the Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian" nation.

Paul's supporters have tried to promote the notion that his positions are pro-LGBT in his own, libertarian way. However, his libertarian dogma, which his supporters claim treats lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens in a "live and let live" fashion, does not advance LGBT rights in any way. While he opposed the draconian federal amendment banning marriage equality, he stated that he would have voted for the Defense of Marriage Act and he is not against individual states practicing discrimination against their gay and lesbian residents.

Paul opposed the ruling in Lawrence v. Texas which banned prohibitions on sodomy, whose real targets are any gay or lesbian activity, claiming that the Constitution provides no protections for those wishing to engage in "sodomy." This seems surprising from a man who wishes to legalize heroin - hardly a practice protected by the Constitution..

Moreover, Paul opposed the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) which would have prohibited employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Additionally, he opposed expanding hate crimes protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

It's not just gays and lesbians that Paul seems unwilling to protect against discrimination, Paul says he would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended racially motivated voter suppression and segregation in schools and businesses. He argues that it "reduced civil liberty" and violates private property rights. In 2006 he voted against renewing the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which helps to remove barriers to minority voting, again citing property rights, and claiming that it was too costly.

If that hasn't turned off progressives, perhaps a look at his economic policies will. Paul supported a 10 percent flat income tax during his 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference speech. The big beneficiaries of that would be the richest people in our country, who would have their taxes drastically reduced. Not only would this completely defund the majority of all social and educational programs provided by the government, it would also likely increase the income disparity that has been exacerbated since the onset of "supply-side" economics. In another seemingly populist assist to the super-rich, he often proposes abolishing the Internal Revenue Service.

Not surprisingly, Paul opposes regulations on industries, even the financial industry whose greed and lack of oversight led us to the economic crisis we have been dealing with for the past two years. According to Paul and the right wing, regulations are burdens rather than consumer protections, and the much hailed "free market" will regulate itself. This ignores the fact that the financial industry had steadily been in a state of deregulation for over two decades, and look what happened.

Calling anti-trust laws "much more harmful than helpful," Paul opposes any federal regulations against corporate monopolies. He also opposes the federal minimum wage, and opposes Equal Pay for Equal Work legislation ensuring women are paid equally to men.

Speaking of the free market, Paul also opposed the Americans with Disabilities Act, claiming that it is an "intrusion into private property rights." He again claims that the free market will punish those who discriminate.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Paul believes that the wildly popular and successful Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs are unconstitutional and should be abolished.

What else does Paul believe should be abolished? The departments of Energy, Education, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Labor are all on his list. He also called the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) "bad economics" and "bad morality," claiming that the government helping communities after natural disasters is  a "moral hazard" because it says that the "government is always going to take care of us when we do dumb things."

Paul also opposes the notion that man-made climate change is a "major problem," despite the science supporting the phenomenon, and claims that the Environmental Protection Agency harms the economy.

Following along with the GOP's open season on family planning services, Paul proudly states that he, if president, would veto any funding to Planned Parenthood and what he calls "family planning schemes."

Overall, a cursory look at his record should be enough for any progressive American to be turned off to Congressman Ron Paul. While we may applaud his antiwar stance and his opposition to the "war on drugs" and the Patriot Act, it would be folly to ignore the largely regressive nature of his politics.

Photo: Ron Paul addresses the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference in February. Gage Skidmore CC 2.01

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  • Just because I'm a progressive doesn't mean I'm a communist. I don't agree with Ron Paul on half of his positions - like zero regulations for example - but I sure as hell would vote for him in an instant over the current sellout that's currently in office. At least the congressman has a consistent track record which I can rely on.

    Posted by Brendon, 07/05/2011 11:08pm (3 years ago)

  • Alan Greenspan may have said he was a libertarian but many libertarians never agreed with his views:

    If you think that libertarianism is the biggest threat to the country then I would suggest that you are thinking of a different country than the rest of us.

    This is important: the "country" is not the State. Rather, it is the individuals within. We created the State to protect our liberty. We are the Egg. The State is the chicken.

    This idea that somehow the State is the senior and more important member of the relationship that is government is puerile and woefully misguided. So much so that it is "our most dangerous ideological foe".

    Posted by David Rairigh, 07/05/2011 11:01pm (3 years ago)

  • Why Pregrassives should vote for Rn Paul.

    Because he does not promote a delusional utopia society.

    Because unlike Obama and most Democratic Party he plans to end the wars.

    Because he is the only one that has no flip flopping record.

    Because he believes in states right and not forcing everyones social belief down peoples throat.

    Because despite of what he likes abolished, HE DOES NOT HAVE THE POWER AS THE PRESIDENT OF U.S. TO DO SO. Why? Cause he follows the Constatution.

    So, control your emotions, put the brain in charge and STOP making voting decisions based on one or two issues he has no control over.

    Posted by Adama Smitha , 07/05/2011 10:09pm (3 years ago)

  • If people have honest disagreements with Paul, fine. However, progressives should be smart enough to understand that Paul's influence has moved the Republican party in favor of less war, more protection of civil liberties, and less corporate welfare. Yes, you may never vote Republican but this is a very positive development nonetheless.

    Since there is no democratic primary this year progressives would be smart to vote Ron Paul in a GOP primary, and they will still have a major influence on the debate in this country.

    Posted by Mike, 07/05/2011 9:59pm (3 years ago)

  • A few misconceptions in this article I would like to address:

    1. Ron Paul opposes the version of "separation of Church and State" which effectively censors religious expression in public venues; he agrees that there should be no official state religion, no government funding for churches, etc.

    2. He opposed the Lawrence vs. Texas ruling because he didn't believe it was in the proper jurisdiction of the Supreme Court (he is correct that the Constitution does not protect sodomy at the federal level); this does not mean that he SUPPORTS anti-sodomy laws, but only that he does not believe the federal government has power to strike state-level laws on the subject. This is certainly not "surprising" in context of his heroin position, since he would also oppose a federal ruling striking down a state-level anti-heroin law; he is pushing to end drug prohibition at the federal level, making it a state-level issue, and though he may believe it should also be legal in any given state, he rightly recognizes that the federal government would have no purview over state-level heroin laws. Unfortunately, the author (like many Progressives) seems to have no grasp of the Constitution's system of federalism.

    3. Before you try to make Ron Paul look like a corporate panderer, you should have to admit that he holds many positions which make corporate bigwigs squirm; he has opposed and will continue to oppose every corporate bail-out put in front of him, he opposes literally all business subsidies, including those to General Electric, big oil companies, etc. I dare you to find some high-profile "liberal" politicians who would stand up to corporate special interests as strongly as Ron Paul is willing to do- Barack Obama certainly wouldn't be among them, for one.

    4. Ron Paul does (rightly) believe that Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are unconstitutional, but it is a deceptive oversimplification to say only that he thinks they "should be abolished." In truth, he has made clear that he wants to maintain them for current recipients, and gradually phase them out over a period of many years, starting by allowing young people to begin opting out of the system.

    5. I think that Ron Paul is correct in every or nearly-every one of the "fringe" positions you cite, but even supposing he is not (as most readers of this post probably believe), he would not be able to repeal anti-trust laws, decimate the welfare state and what-have-you through the presidency anyway; only the legislature could do that. However, he COULD- and would- end the wars, bring the troops home, refuse to launch any new imperialistic ventures, close Guantanamo Bay and fully do away with torture and indefinite detention, veto encroachments on civil liberties, etc.

    Posted by C. Wendt, 07/05/2011 9:36pm (3 years ago)

  • @JM I think it isn't sad at all. Probably for most progressive, nay most people, politics doesn't revolve solely around whether or not some drugs should be legal or illegal.

    That's why when polls are done, most people identify the economy as their big issue. Well, Paul's stance on the economy is to give back more to the very rich and to give them a free under the dangerous ideology that we are all somehow equal in the marketplace, that whether you're Bill Gates, Muammar Gadahfi or the working class people who read this webiste, we're all equal.

    Posted by Sober1982, 07/05/2011 9:35pm (3 years ago)

  • Ron Paul 2012! Don't believe the lies! The truth is heresy in an empire of lies!

    Posted by D Nelson, 07/05/2011 8:55pm (3 years ago)

  • Progressives,

    Why not support Ron Paul?

    He is the best protest candidate this election cycle.

    If you think war and civil liberties are the major issues of our time, what has Obama done? We are in more wars than under Bush and we get violated at airport checkpoints.

    A vote for Obama is a vote for the status quo.

    Posted by wwhg001, 07/05/2011 8:51pm (3 years ago)

  • Wow so many distortions I don't know were to start.

    How many of you know anything about what a true libertarian believes in? I'm not talking about the Kock/fake stuff.

    Civil liberties start with responsibility and end with freedom.

    He is not pro-polution he believes that the EPA is. They stand between you and the corporations. They hand out tiny fines. Ron Paul would prefer that individuals can actually sue the corporations that pollute and that the justice system toss them in jail.

    Property rights should be consistant for all of us. If you own the property you should be able to do with it as you please as long as you are not hurting anyone.

    Some of the founding fathers did believe in Christ others didn't but he is not for putting God in Government he has never been that way. Have you ever heard him even once say God bless America?

    I could go on and on and pretty much discredit every thing this article has said. However, in the end if Progressives are unwilling to do their own research it really won't matter. If anyone from any party or no party is willing to believe the lies that the MSM tosses out there is really no hope for them to understand Ron Paul. He is not someone that plays well to a 2 minute video clip.

    His plans are long term not short term and the reason he has such a devoted following is because once people take the time to understand his positions they understand the problems with the current system and what it's really going to take to fix it. The status quo is not going to help.

    Posted by Brad Smith, 07/05/2011 8:46pm (3 years ago)

  • I have been a very good progressive for many years, I have been politically active in my local area, donated time and money to Hilary Clinton last election cycle. I have seen my party pull this Orwellian type of heist for many years now. I chose to ignore it. For example, ending the wars then expanding them, during the Bush years we progressives hated the Patriot Act now, it was my side that was so over-joyed to extend it. I am disgusted how the two parties have warped into each other. This time I have done my own research and I will be voting for REAL CHANGE, its not about semantics for me anymore. I have researched Ron Paul thoroughly and his message within the Constitutional confines of government have been demonstrated by each vote he has taken. His message hasn't changed, I have changed. I will put forth with even more gusto in getting Ron Paul into the oval office.

    Posted by Steph, 07/05/2011 8:25pm (3 years ago)

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