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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  • You obviously haven't done any research. You're just spewing venom. In fact, I think it is safe to say that you haven't done any political research at all. You obviously have no clue what got us in the financial crisis. Yes banks played a hand but it goes way beyond that. And just to be clear, he is a strong supporter of church and state seperation. RESEARCH

    Posted by Jsay, 07/05/2011 4:54pm (4 years ago)

  • I voted for Obama (Bush 2.0) in 2008 - but will be voting for Ron Paul in 2012.

    Posted by Bluegillmaster, 07/05/2011 4:52pm (4 years ago)

  • You should probably read Ron Paul's book - Liberty Defined, in which he clearly states his positions on various issues and also the thought process he used to arrive at those conclusions.

    If you knew anything about the FED and how it works, you would realize that it is the biggest cause of inequity in society. Nothing hurts the 'common man' more that the policies of the Federal Reserve.

    Also, if you knew anything about history, you would know that the history of this world has been all about big business colluding with big government to gain an advantage over its competition - usually by creating barriers to entry. That's exactly what Ant-Trust and other government mandates on business are about. They hurt small business a lot more because they don't have the economies of scale to deal with the costs.

    As for the Civil Rights Act, Ron Paul clearly stated that all that needed to be done was to repeal the unconstitutional Jim Crowe laws that had been enforced by the government. The Civil Rights Act did nothing in that sense.

    Ron Paul does care about the environment but chooses to deal with these things through property rights. Here the person whose property is damaged has to be compensated by the polluter. You can't write laws everytime you see something you don't like. You need to understand WHY these problems exist. Laws are a hard-fix to a problem that cause all sorts of unintended consequences.

    Lastly, Ron Paul wants to do away with the bureaucracy, not education or energy or agriculture. There's a difference. He wants states to have more control over various issues because right now Washington DC has become a one-stop-shop for lobbiest who can have the Federal government decree laws for the entire country. It would be a lot tougher to do this across 50 states.

    Spend a little more time educating yourself and above all, JUDGE AN ACTION BY ITS RESULTS, NOT ITS INTENT!!!

    Posted by Legend, 07/05/2011 4:36pm (4 years ago)

  • Paul is certainly not a Progressive, but he has a huge overlap with real Progressives, and in some important areas such as:
    Ending the "Patriot" Act.
    Ending the "drug war"

    He has the voting record to back his words, good or bad.

    Certainly as far as military actions, Obama has largely proven to be the next chapter of GWB. We need to understand this and not be suckers again.

    Obama has taught me like no one else to vote by record, not by speeches. He's more recently mentioning pulling out troops, but in levels not exceeding what he's added since taking office. Is that a reduction? Not in my book. We're involved with Libya! That's what McCain would have done.

    Much of what Paul wants to do will not fly in Congress. There's reasons republicans don't care for him. He doesn't cave to corporate interests. The President can order troops back home though, and that's what he'll do. That alone makes him superior to any other candidate this presidential cycle. I don't see him getting traction in many areas we don't like but getting lots of traction elsewhere, maybe the Patriot Act (he wouldn't renew sections as they are set to expire like Obama has) and certainly on the endless wars and occupations actually coming to a close.

    An interesting look at overlap between Paul and Ralph Nader can be seen here:

    Posted by Realton, 07/05/2011 4:21pm (4 years ago)

  • Tags include "Racism"?

    I would say he's more outspoken about his consistent conservative views.

    He doesn’t support "Ignoring Climate Change" he supports the idea that other people don’t have the right to pollute.

    As far as gay rights, he supports the idea that all men/women are created equal and that nobody has special rights.

    Your lack of explanation on his economic issues are laughable.

    You don’t speak for progressives on this at all.


    Posted by Bob Barker, 07/05/2011 4:16pm (4 years ago)

  • Im confused why anybody wants more government. When we elect people into office they are there to do a specific job, and that is to protect the rights of the American people. If they are not doing that, we vote them out. What we have now is a system that we vote a politician into office so they can hire and contract all their friends and financial supporters to do work for the government with our tax dollars. The SEC just spent 545million dollars over 10 years on an office building they will not use. This is wrong, we did not vote for those people at the SEC yet they spend our money and the person who signed the lease still has their job. Bush made all his cronies millions of dollars just as Obama is doing with his cronies like GE getting cabinet positions. This is why Ron Paul is right when he says the size of government is too big, the American people can not support of control it any longer. This is a government that looks out for itself, we need to go back to a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

    Posted by AJ, 07/05/2011 4:12pm (4 years ago)

  • I am progressive, voted Nader in 2004 & 2008, and will be voting for Ron Paul in 2012!!!!!!

    Posted by Nolan, 07/05/2011 4:12pm (4 years ago)

  • You missed the point on this whole article... LOL. Like every point was missed. Just to take your first point on LGBT rights... Dr. Paul doesn't believe groups have rights. Individuals do. Maybe if we granted all individuals the same rights debates could center around the real economic problems we face in this country. Problems no one understands better than Ron Paul.

    Posted by WPK, 07/05/2011 3:54pm (4 years ago)

  • Yes, listen to the people who have a vested interest in keeping you unhappy. Not much use for a LGBT movement if everyone gets treated the same, is there? No, don't vote to put marriage in the hand of your locality, let's keep it locked down by the federal government in blatant violation of the Constitution. Let's not give you the right to sue any employer directly for being treated differently, let's lump you in a group where you have to be identified as a member so people who dislike that group can easily and immediately identify you, see point #1. Of COURSE Dr. Paul is opposed to so-called 'hate crimes' why should a crime against one citizen be more important than the exact same crime against some other citizen, based on their membership in a group? Same thing for the Civil Rights Act, why should you receive protection ONLY because you're a member of a 'group' when EVERY citizen deserves that protection? Further why someone would wish people who engage in discriminatory practices NOT identify themselves is beyond me? You want me to FORCE the person discriminating to accept your money? What, you want to PAY him for that attitude? That's as bad as wanting the federal regulation of corporations - back in the day, they had to comply with 50 different state legislatures, which made local companies more competitive. You'd much rather they ship our jobs overseas?

    Wow, I could do 30 minutes on this and I really should, but instead why not go to Ron Paul's website for yourself and read up on him a little? That's all it will take to make you a supporter, I promise.

    Posted by Louis Nardozi, 07/05/2011 3:53pm (4 years ago)

  • Progressives have three options in 2012:

    1. Obama, who has lied on most of the important issues. He didn't close Gitmo, he is still using the DOJ to attack marijuana users, the "healthcare reform" was really just mandating insurance (just a bail out to the insurance companies), he extended the Patriot Act, has us still in Iraq, has us bombing Libya, even more unemployment than when he entered the White House and violating the presidential abuses he once criticized Bush for.

    2. Mitt Romney or Michelle Bachman or one of those other Republicans who says whatever their audience wants to hear, rather than the truth. Just google "Mitt Romney flip flops" to find examples of the two-face trickery of this group.

    3. Ron Paul, who supports ending the drug war, pardoning non-violent users, ending all the foreign wars and occupations (including South Korea, Germany, Italy, etc.) and thereby fixing the budget crisis. He's said he opposes many social programs, but he's not foolish about priorities, nor would he try to abuse his power in the White House as both Bush and Obama did. If you need evidence of that, check his voting record, where he never voted to increase his own pay, and even opted out of the congressional pension program because he thinks it's corrupt. That's integrity.

    These are the options of progressives, conservatives and all other Americans. I know who I will be voting for, and the very few things I disagree with Dr. Paul on will not sway my vote to another 4 years of war, economic collapse and double-speak. I hope anyone reading this enough of a forward thinker to realize that just because someone is a Democrat doesn't mean they're truly progressive.

    Posted by Bing, 07/05/2011 3:50pm (4 years ago)

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