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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  • Arguing with progressives is not advised... we have very different views of the role of government.

    Paul's position on 'rights' for groups is that no group has to have special protection or 'rights' - individuals have rights.

    It is true Paul would have voted against the Civil Rights Act because it included laws where a business owner couldn't discriminate. It is not that Paul wants people to discriminate - he is simply saying it is their right. Would you eat at a restaurant with a sign 'No Gays' ?? I wouldn't. Supporting someone's right to do something is not the same as endorsing the action (Paul abhors drugs/pot - but it is your rights he wants to protect).

    The parts of the Civil Rights Act Paul DOES support strike down Jim Crow laws - where a government or public facility discriminates. The government can't discriminate - but Paul thinks people can (to their own demise). Such as 'water fountain, schools, buses...

    It is a tough concept to agree with. But, what would you do if an anti-gay restaurant opened near you? First, you would not frequent it... you would talk it down... and finally, protest it. We would have to have faith that we, as a people (not a government) could shut these businesses down.

    Often Paul is criticized because he wants laws to be at a more local level... Move these sticky issues to a lower level where your voice has more power - to the State, or county, or township, or household - or finally, the individual.

    So - believe what you folks want... Paul just wants people to have their freedoms... If you really care, do some research...

    Posted by Bill Gillingham, 07/05/2011 3:47pm (3 years ago)

  • Sorry mate, your litmus test issues are tired and discredited. Besides, we simply cannot afford to be so picky with people literally loosing the roofs over their heads. The fact that so-called progressives are more concerned with ancient Marxist ideology than with the tragedy of people whose basic needs are not being met because of wars, drug wars, wars of faux terrorism, banksterism, corporatism, and so forth, all of which you dismiss, speaks volumes in regard to your sincerity and true motives. Paul and the libertarians are the only true liberals left on the planet, the only people willing to stand up against the forces of corporatism and statism, the only ones wiling to defend the right of the common people to determine the course of their own lives and to retain their own property and liberty.

    Posted by Seth K., 07/05/2011 3:42pm (3 years ago)

  • You clearly don't understand that freedom requires that communities set their own standards and if you as a free person don't like it, you can live else where. Also, please tell me how the government has protected the environment? Paul's view is that someone is frisking the government of funds. He might be right. The problem with the environment is a consumption issue. The governmental philosophy that spending rather than saving is the way to run an economy has brought about massive over consumption. This is where the environmental protection needs to come from, not a very powerless and somewhat stupid government. Ron Paul personally believes in different things than I, but I agree with him on the role of government. Finally, would you rather have a president that only says what you want to hear to get your vote, or someone who actually says what they're going to do even if you disagree on some things. Being the peace and personal freedoms candidate in in my opinion is better than one who will flip on issues to suit their ambitions.

    Posted by Ryan, 07/05/2011 3:39pm (3 years ago)

  • The WAR is the biggest issue of our day. I do not agree with Paul on many aspects, many of them were noted here, but considering that he is the only candidate who hgas consistantly advocated ending the war, he's got my vote.

    Posted by John, 07/05/2011 3:36pm (3 years ago)

  • I'm a new Ron Paul supporter and I had progressive ideas but after reading Ron Paul's "Liberty Defined", I have changed how I look at certain issues. The book dealth with a lot of controversial topics. I don't agree 100% with Ron Paul's issues but I agree with him on the bigger issues, which are, solving our broken monetary policy, fixing the economy, and bringing the troops home. I think those issues trump the issue of not supporting the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And you would think as a minority that would bother me but it doesn't.

    I don't think will turn back time where minorities are not allowed to eat, shop at certain business venues, or have to sit at the back of the bus. I think America has grown from that. Plus, he didn't support it because he's a strict Constitutionalist and it violated the property laws of the private businesses. It would be the business' loss if they have such awful, discriminating policies like that. Those businesses would be criticized heavily, people wouldn't support it, and they will eventually close down.

    I've grown to like Ron Paul more. I will vote for him. I hope he wins the GOP primary.

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

  • You make it sound like abolishing the Department of Education is a bad idea. What have they done other than adding more bureaucracy and attempting to decide what is the "right" way to do things for all schools in every state.

    Getting rid of the Department of Education does not mean public schools will disappear. Public schools are run at the state level, so without the federal department, they would be free to adapt to the requirements of students of their own state.

    Posted by Edward Lee, 07/05/2011 3:33pm (3 years ago)

  • Not a bad article. Dr. Paul may or not be a good choice for a 'progressive' depending on priorities. For example, our multiple wars, perpetuated by Pres. Obama (who seemed not like a war monger a few years ago) are atrocious. War, killing, and nation building are just horrendous acts of great importance. Dr. Paul is the single candidate who would put these to an end in short order.

    I'd suggest readers take a look at Dr. Paul's recent book Liberty Defined which explains the rationale behind many of his ideas that are hard to do justice in a short article like this. Take a look and it will at least get you thinking.

    A few bits in this article had me shaking my head, such as, 'regulations on industries, even the financial industry whose greed and lack of oversight led us to the economic crisis'. Wow. I am a professional economist in the financial industry and have naturally put a lot of time into issues like these. A casual look at the relationship between Wall Street big-wigs, Obama's staff and advisors, the Fed, and Obama himself (this goes for Bush before him as well) should make one at least be suspicious of the greed and oversight hypothesis. If nothing else, Dr. Paul is in no ones pocket, his positions are consistent, and he has the voting record to back that up.

    Posted by Henry Chinaski, 07/05/2011 3:29pm (3 years ago)

  • this puff piece is complete crap. I encourage others to read Mr. Paul's new book "Liberty Defined" it's all explained in there, much more well dont than this unresearched propaganda piece.

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

  • Ron paul 2012

    Posted by and it begins, 07/05/2011 3:24pm (3 years ago)

  • You point out that Dr. Paul favors removing industry regulations, but you fail to point out that he equally favors removing industry subsidies. He wants politicians out of special interests game where large companies need only convince enough of the Congress to steal/tax money from people to benefit certain companies.

    For example, he wants to get rid of the TSA which acts like a subsidy for airlines who currently can offload the cost AND responsibility of securing their flights to the taxpayers. If something dangerous happens on a flight, the airline can just point at the TSA saying that it's their fault.

    Posted by Edward Lee, 07/05/2011 3:24pm (3 years ago)

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