Of all the weird memories this election cycle will leave behind the weirdest may well be the defection of some progressive Americans to the Ron Paul camp. Apparently, they are drawn to his promise to end the incessant wars and bring the troops home, and they’re seduced by his opposition to such abominations as indefinite detention, the abuse of predator drones, the Patriot Act and wiretaps without warrants.
I, too, look wistfully at the promise of ending America’s wars and stemming the erosion of civil rights that persists even with Barack Obama in the White House. I, too, am exasperated by President Obama’s unwillingness or inability to move the country farther to the left.
But the Ron Paul platform is a pipe dream. To begin with, the constitutional limits on the presidency would make it impossible for this perennial presidential pretender to keep his promises. This is not a parliamentary system where the prime minister’s policies are implemented by the elected representatives. Governing America is like herding cats; members of Congress can vote any any which way they like regardless of party affiliation. Then there are those powerful special interests to contend with. The American constitution gives them almost unlimited access to Congress. Nowhere else in the world is such blatant “lobbying” and such unabashed influence peddling enshrined in a nation’s constitution.
Listening to Ron Paul and the other Republican presidential hopefuls, you might think America is a “divine-right” monarchy instead of a democracy. They all pledge to do things they cannot possibly do. To implement their policies they would need inconceivable support in both the House and the Senate – especially in the Senate, where Republicans’ use of the filibuster has made it impossible to pass legislation without the support of at least two-thirds of the members.
I cannot believe Americans would elect enough libertarians to control Congress and implement Ron Paul’s agenda. Can you?
Then there’s the rest of the Ron Paul platform. As Bob Cesca writes in the Huffington Post:
Ron Paul’s agenda on everything else besides the war and matters surrounding the treatment of accused terrorists are utterly destructive to progressive values, not to mention the well-being of the nation.
Based on statistics culled from the American Journal of Political Science and Common Space Score calculations from 1937 to 2002, Ron Paul has the most conservative record out of the entire roster of more than 3,000 Congress members from both chambers during that considerably long span of time. Put another way, Ron Paul is the most conservative member of Congress in modern history. Think of the most right-wing legislator you can come up with. Ron Paul is to that person’s right. Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Rick Santorum, Louie Gohmert — Ron Paul has them beat by miles. And it’s really no wonder. So, on that note, what about all of that aforementioned “horrendous libertarian baggage?”
Paul’s libertarianism is manifested in his desire to essentially subvert the functionality of the federal government. He wants to eliminate many cabinet level departments including the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Internal Revenue Service.
Obviously, progressives would be much better off with President Obama than with Ron Paul.
Some progressives will say they’re disappointed by the president’s performance. But they should cut Obama some slack. He is a human being, after all, not a superhero. And he is dealing with a complex and frustrating system.
For a human being, President Obama has achieved a lot. I can’t list all of his achievements here; they’re far too numerous. But I suggest you click on the link below and listen to a video that my brother Bill forwarded to me this morning. Posted on a web site called “The Black Liberal Boomer Blog,” it’s a convincing defense of the president’s first term.