Let me say, first, that I’m confident this is not a choice we’ll ever face. It’s going to be Romney versus Obama. (Unless Ron Paul decides to run as a third party candidate, which, from a Democratic point of view, would be delightful).
Let me say, second, that I agree with pretty much every progressive critique of Ron Paul I’ve read. As Jeff has written, Paul’s positions on reproductive rights are abominable — and shows how truly shallow many libertarians’ commitment to liberty is. I think it’s clear that Paul is a racist; the only question remaining is if his past embrace of racism was heartfelt or cynical.1
He’s quite possibly antisemitic and homophobic as well. His economic ideas are to economics what creationism is to biology. And in the White House, Ron Paul could do a hell of a lot of real damage to the country.
There are domestic issues where I agree with Paul — particularly his opposition to the drug war — but I just don’t think that as President, Paul would have much power to end the drug war. And although I think Paul is better than Obama on many civil liberties issues, in many cases those issues don’t actually effect many people.
I just don’t trust Barack Obama to keep us out of war with Iran.
And that’s huge. It should be huge to any progressive.
I pretty much agree with Srdja Trifkovic when he writes:
The Iranians are undoubtedly enhancing their enrichment capability and seeking control of a full nuclear-fuel cycle, but there is nothing in the recent International Atomic Energy Agency’s report to indicate that they are building a bomb. Nonetheless, the drumbeat has returned to Washington, and its objective is to present a military attack against Iran as a legitimate policy option to deal with a major threat to the United States. This campaign is reminiscent of the propaganda barrage over the 18 months preceding the war against Iraq in March 2003: It is based on an exaggerated threat and on the bogus claim that diplomatic solutions have been exhausted.2
We definitely seem to be moving towards war with Iran, and the Obama Administration is part of that movement. I have little confidence in Obama’s interest or desire in keeping us out of war with Iran.
Americans tend to vastly overstate the president’s power. A president is not a dictator, and cannot singlehandedly decide on policy.
But there are areas where Presidents have more influence. When it comes to foreign policy — and the decision to make war — no one is more powerful than the President. When it comes to the decision to go to war or not, the President has as close as he (or she) ever comes to dictatorial powers.3
How many hundreds of thousands of people will die if the US pursues another “war of choice,” this time with Iran? Is there anything wrong, from a progressive point of view, with considering that an overwhelmingly important issue?
I really don’t like Ron Paul. But preventing another needless war might be worth having an ignorant, racist, sexist, asshat like Ron Paul in the Oval Office.
I think that people who consider a vote for Paul impossible to justify from a progressive point of view are either undervaluing anti-war as a progressive principal, or are underestimating the danger of war with Iran under President Obama.
I’m not saying that war with Iran is certain if Obama is re-elected. But Ron Paul is far more war-adverse than Barack Obama, and for me, being war-adverse is very possibly the single most important trait of a good President.
Of course, in the real election, we’ll be faced with a choice between Obama, who seems to be leaning somewhat towards war with Iran, and Romney, who is leaning even further in that direction, although of course being Romney his actual views are hard to pin down. Despite the fact that Americans in general are fairly war-adverse, there will not be a viable candidate for President who is firmly committed to keeping the US out of war with Iran if at all possible — another sign of the failure of US democracy to produce genuinely democratic choices for citizens to vote on.
- That Paul may have merely appointed racists to speak in his name is not a good excuse; the ability to delegate authority competently is not incidental to being a good President. [↩]
- Quoted from the excellent Eunomia blog. I really think that lefty bloggers who don’t read right-wing blogs are missing out on one of the best bloggers writing by skipping Daniel Larison. [↩]
- I know that the Constitution gives Congress the job of deciding when the US goes to war. But Congress seems as eager to give up that power as the White House is to acquire it. [↩]