Why progressives should not support Ron Paul

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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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  • At this moment, our most dangerous ideological foe in the United States may not necessarily be conservatism (an ideology that has been largely regionalized even if not defeated), but rather libertarianism. While neoconservatives were promoting torture as the quintessence of American foreign policy under the Bush regime, it was libertarians (chief among them, Alan Greenspan) and not neocons who were bringing the domestic and world economy to its knees...

    Of course, the libertarian proposition that markets are self-correcting has now been repudiated, even by Greenspan. However, some immensely influential libertarian or pop-libertarian doctrines that liberals and leftists have still largely failed to denounce or even publicly challenge include the following:

    * Taxes always and by definition represent a dead loss for the taxpayer. o Public or government services are always inherently less efficient than the private sector. * Capitalists are the creators of all wealth and the motor force of the economy

    * Workers create nothing, and are little more than necessary liabilities to be controlled, or whenever possible, eliminated from the production process.

    * The reason workers and the poor are not rich is because we are lazy bums.

    * Freedom is spontaneity; all discipline is tyranny Freedom is my right to do anything I want to do, when, where and how I want to do it.

    * Union is not strength, but tyranny, since it inhibits spontaneous individuality, which is the definition of freedom.

    * Selfishness is a virtue.

    Vicious unchallenged ideas like these are already distorting debate in several areas... Although very seductive to some intelligent, rebel-minded youth, the deeply anti-people libertarian ideology urgently needs to be attacked by liberals and the left for what it is: a re-warmed version of old right-wing crackpot anarchist doctrines, harnessed to the service of predatory capitalism. This is a priority struggle that has too long been ignored.

    Posted by Owen, 07/05/2011 6:22pm (4 years ago)

  • OK so we should support Obama who has done nothing to end wars (and instead started a new one), done nothing to end patriot act, nothing on environment/climate change either.

    Uh i think i'll choose Ron Paul because while he doesn't support all of my positions, i'm more confident that change will happen.

    Posted by Larry, 07/05/2011 6:19pm (4 years ago)

  • If you want to talk about cult-like behavior, I'd look to the Lyndon LaRouche crowd, which is not to say I disagree with everything they say.

    I've been involved in local politics for about a decade now and I feel like the partisans of both colors are much more cult-like than any libertarian-minded groups I've been apart of. Yet I've heard this description before and read two articles today calling Paul supporters "cult-like."

    The irony is that there is no doubt these authors voted for Obama in their cult-like fervor of fascist "change". BTW what has Obama done to empower gay people?

    Plus I'd like for someone to show me where it says government and religion should be completely separated in the US Constitution. "Congress shall make no law respecting an ESTABLISHMENT of religion, or PROHIBITING the FREE exercise thereof;"

    So it's actually banned by the 1st amendment to make any law that prohibits the free exercise of my beliefs (religious or ideological) , whether in a public or private role.

    Posted by John C, 07/05/2011 6:18pm (4 years ago)

  • @ Terri

    If Libertarianism = free hand for corporations to trample communities and workers and is so "pro-corporate" then why is it that Dr. Paul doesn't receive corporate support?

    Posted by WPK, 07/05/2011 6:10pm (4 years ago)

  • Bravo @Joe. All of these comments are a-systemic, meaning you talk about government but ignore the system we live under: capitalism. That system creates an inherent inequality based on class, race, gender, etc. Therefore, in order to improve people's lives under capitalism, you need for government to step in and tell capital it has limits, rules and regulations. All of you are oh so "evenhanded" -- "Paul opposes regulation but he opposes subsidies too" That is crap! That means he supports a total free hand for corporations to trample communities and workers. That is why libertarianism is just another word for pro-corporate.

    Posted by Terrie Albano, 07/05/2011 5:41pm (4 years ago)

  • Joe, try doing some homework before you analyze...

    1) Someone else already debunked that on the forums here.
    2) They would not be free to do so, because federal courts would have a very strong view on the rights to private property. Very costly? Only for those few days I'd have to take off of work to sue Dow Chemical.
    3)And? Would the employers who hold radical views keep any employees?
    4) No public schools? how about no FEDERALLY-funded public schools. Why not? Cause you wouldn't be paying ridiculous taxes for some other state's system. I'd much rather keep my $$ to pay the school directly.
    5)Once again, no federal funding. States could tax the *%^ out of you though, and keep their universities running just fine (some already do).
    6)He says unions are already too powerful, not that they should be abolished.
    7)Doesn't matter, that wouldn't be under his control.

    Ron Paul wants corporations to prosper, this is true. However, he does not want to "hand all power to corporate board rooms." I recommend that everyone check Wikipedia/google/etc. on these topics before listening to the likes of Joe or the ‘journalist’ here.

    p.s. The article gets a C+ for at least showing a good pic of Dr. Paul.

    Posted by jester2069, 07/05/2011 5:38pm (4 years ago)

  • One sided argument, not interested in the truth.

    Go Ron Paul 2012!

    Posted by gilbert peralta, 07/05/2011 5:37pm (4 years ago)

  • How about some class analysis?
    Ron Paul is against any regulation of private businesses. His position is:
    1) Private employers should be free to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, and whatever.
    2) Corporations should be free to pollute and poison our water and air, subject only to law suits by individuals (very costly) if they can prove damages.
    3) corporations and bosses rule - your boss can even decide what underwear you should put on, on the job or even on your vacation in the bahamas. The boss can decide who you can marry, who can be your friends, and whatever. The boss can drug test you whenever he wants.
    4) Privatizing everything. Paul is for abolishing all public jobs, except for national defense, so that everybody will be subject to complete corporate rule.
    No public schools, no public housing, no public air traffic control.
    5) if you don't like it quit your job, but there will be no unemplyment check, no welfare, no food stamps, no social security or medicare, or veterans benefits, and you can't go to college unless you're rich because Paul is against public universities and against Pll grants, and against the school loan programs.
    6) worst of all he's against laws establishing and protecting our right to a labor union and collective bargaining, You'll have to bargain with the boss alone
    - you against GE.
    7) He may be in Congress and running for president, but he's against state and local government regulations and programs as well.
    ------ -------------- ----------
    We live in a capitalist dictatorship where corporate cash controls everything including politicians and the government.
    The American people have struggled for over a century
    to win some modest protections against predatory corporate America. Ron Paul wants to erase all these gains and hand all power to the corporate Board rooms. Complete Corporate rule is not greater freedom and democracy it's barbarism.

    Posted by Joe Bernick, 07/05/2011 5:07pm (4 years ago)

  • Right on Bob Barker!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by Nolan, 07/05/2011 5:06pm (4 years ago)

  • wow! talk about taking facts and twisting them to make YOUR points! WTG, dude! how very 'journalistic' of you.

    Posted by Tad, 07/05/2011 4:55pm (4 years ago)

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