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30 December 2011 @ 10:29 pm
So I have crossed paths with the devotional cult of Paul again.  
Okay, I have yet again had "this country was intended to function like X and we need to put it back like that" thrown at me, this time by a Ron Paul supporter but eh. It's too pervasive for me to just point at them and say it's their argument, though I'll get to him when I've picked apart that little highly-polished ball of shit.

Here's my feeling.

I am a lot less reverent of "the way things were intended to be" than I am "how things would need to be so that privileged and currently-marginalized people can have equality of opportunity."

The country we create means a lot more to me than the degree to which it matches someone else's idea of sufficient faithfulness to the ideological orthodoxy of a group of social contract theorists two centuries ago who had no more experience with the kind of culture I want to live in now than anybody else did at the time.

So rather than spending the rest of my life building a political theory around slavish obedience to the ideals of men who owned black people and mostly didn't think women were qualified to vote, I'm going to look at politics and government as a problem-solving exercise, not a test of my loyalty to "the founders."

Some of the same people who'd never argue that we should do whatever the Bible says (or seems to say) because it's a book written by people will nonetheless kill and die to demonstrate their unwillingness to depart from centuries-old ideas about what America should be like. I don't get it.

I don't think "the founders" were necessarily any wiser men than we have today. They had great ideas (though a lot of that was just them having the sense to identify ideas worth copying from other cultures), but they gave us a starting point. The Constitution they wrote is a great place to start, but it's not perfect enough as a place to finish.

That's why I can't join the libertarian party's devotional cult dedicated to "the founders" or their ideals. I am fairly familiar with what they wanted, where they differed with one another, and with whom I'd likely have agreed if I'd been around then.

Fact remains, though, that we're further along in this experiment than they were. We know things now that they didn't then, and if we're more concerned about orthodoxy than which policies will actually create a nation of equal opportunity... then I feel like that's way more of a betrayal of their legacy than anything I'm arguing for.

I told you I would get to Ron Paul. So let's get started.

This whole conversation was sort of screwy. Getting warned away from being prejudiced against straight white Christian men was so trippy. I keep thinking about it.

I believe the word she was looking for was "race traitor," and frankly I can't think of a higher compliment from people who think that we can ignore Ron Paul's terrible history of racism and homophobia simply because he wants to get us out of our current wars and would pave the way for legally-available marijuana.

Like 50% of his positions really are perfectly on point, and then he goes off on some racist rant or starts talking about how he'd like it if women didn't have access to abortion and how much of a serious problem he has with gay people or otherwise showing his racist white theocrat petticoats. Those things are dealbreakers to me, because those people are my fellow citizens, too, and any presidential candidate claiming to represent me had better at least make some nice gestures toward representing them as well.

They're also the 99%, and if we sell them out because there's something more important to us than the problems they face, then we never deserved for them to stand with us in the first place.

This guy! This guy made something like a million dollars off of whipping white people into a well-armed frothing race-based hate. Now he's saying he doesn't know how he did it because someone else wrote all that racism under his name without his knowledge and he's just the poor sap who made a crap ton of money off of making life harder in this country for people of color... accidentally, of course. He didn't know any of that was going on or that it was horribly racist.

Next he'll be saying that his horribly bigoted attitude toward gay people is someone else's fault, too. So much for personal responsibility.

How much money was that again?

"The publishing operation was lucrative. A tax document from June 1993—wrapping up the year in which the Political Report had published the "welfare checks" comment on the L.A. riots—reported an annual income of $940,000 for Ron Paul & Associates, listing four employees in Texas (Paul's family and Rockwell) and seven more employees around the country. If Paul didn't know who was writing his newsletters, he knew they were a crucial source of income and a successful tool for building his fundraising base for a political comeback."

This article also has some more examples of the kind of content that appeared regularly in the newsletter (though Ron Paul apparently didn't realize that there was any kind of effort to get white people scared of black people).

His approach contains less (thinly-)coded racism now than it did, which is good. But like this article says, there is more to taking "moral responsibility" for what was published in his name than claiming he didn't know about it. "Moral responsibility" means saying, "I used to think some things that were really screwed up, but I've learned better."

It's not that hard. Lots of white people do it all the time. Unfortunately, if Ron Paul actually did that, he'd lose the support of the white nationalist militia groups that still love him today.

His racist connections weren't all several decades ago, either.

But maybe he didn't know that he was appearing on white supremacist radio shows, either. I'm sure nobody told him that, or maybe he just didn't check. Maybe the fact that he has the enthusiastic support of white supremacists tells us nothing. Maybe they didn't check his positions any more than he checked theirs, and it's a great big blind lovefest in which they have no idea how strongly they disagree.

Seems unlikely, though. I don't think anybody I was arguing with would accidentally lobby white supremacists for support in the Occupy movement, but maybe I'm wrong.

Hey now but his voting record is so awesome.


His racism is not the only or even biggest problem here.

There's policy stuff like his hatred for OSHA, his support for life-at-conception legislation in Texas, his dislike for a lot of our current antitrust laws, his DISinterest in dismantling our ICBM silos (as well as his apparent dislike for the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty), and his dislike for the International Criminal Court. Also no Federal standards for teachers. Also there might be something in there about bringing back the days of separate currencies for each state, which was a thing we actually did used to do.

Here is a super detailed rundown of all the screwed-up stuff on his record. This isn't hearsay. This is a matter of public record.

These things demonstrate that he cares more for a certain kind of ideological orthodoxy than he does about the actual effect of his policies on any real people. And why shouldn't he? He's got his. He's a rich white male doctor. To a large extent, he's got every reason to expect that things like repealing OSHA will never actually result in harm to people he cares about, because it will result in harm to people who aren't... well... like him. And what kind of paleo-libertarian worries about people who're different from him?

I will concede that he has gotten a little better about these things, but he's still so far below my bar for acceptable white people behavior. It's like stabbing someone with a knife to four inch depth and then pulling it out one or two.

Ron Paul needs to come out and say, "I advocated for some stuff that was seriously screwed up, and frankly I associated with some people who want some seriously screwed up things, but my position has evolved."

He won't, though. I would lay money on it.

Yeah, but he still speaks for the 99%

I've already talked about the fact that he doesn't speak for any of the people of color among the 99%. Additionally, Ron Paul has a problem with gay people.

In addition to the bit in the Orcinus link about him wanting to deny access to Federal courts to people discriminated against because of religion or sexual orientation, the way that he talks about LGBT people... it's disgraceful, and frankly I'm saddened that more straight people don't see it as more of a problem.

Ever see that letter from one of his staffers attempting to dispel the myth of his bigotry? You should read it. It's hilarious, though by hilarious I mean it's awful.

Paul went to use a public toilet rather than a gay man's toilet. He thought that was "cleaner" somehow? Why? Because he's a homophobe and he'd rather use a public restroom than one that was probably crawling with The Super AIDS or whatever it is he thinks we've all got.

Dondero is trying to help Paul's case, and in so doing he cites behavior that is enormously inappropriate and demonstrates a serious personal problem with gay people. If he wouldn't let a black person touch him or shake his hand, would you assume he was interested in representing them if he got into office? If he absolutely would not under any circumstances use a poor person's bathroom, would you assume that he would look out for their interests? Would you assume that he represents the 99%, or is it enough for OWS that he represent the straight white Christian males in OWS?

I really think we need to demand better before saying that anybody is The Occupation Candidate.

Why am I having this conversation anyway?

I might convince somebody watching who is still on the fence. I am sure as hell not going to make progress with the woman who made this comment. "If the government get out of our personal lives as Ron Paul stated we wont have to worry then about LGBT people and POC . dont you think..there would be no need."

If she thinks he's against government control, perhaps it's because she's assuming that the federal government is the only one that matters. If she doesn't think state governments have ever needed to have their oppressive tendencies reined in by the federal government, then she may not be entirely clear on the history of civil rights in this country. If she thinks it has been awesome for LGBT people and POC to have states be permitted to make whatever laws they please regarding minorities within their borders, I don't even know how to have a conversation about American history with her.

I agree with a lot of Paul supporters about the legalization of most drugs, but I don't agree that Paul cares much about the consequences of his actions (particularly if they're affecting people different from him). Near as I can tell, Paul cares far more about his own very narrow definition of ideological orthodoxy than he does about accomplishing anything in particular, or about what the damage might be to anybody who isn't a straight white Christian man whose family has been here for generations.

That means that when he advocates for something that will happen to benefit minorities (such as legalizing pot), we can be sure that he's not actually interested in that outcome. It's just one slightly-less-crazy portion of his plan to remake the entire government into his anti-federalist fantasy in which each state has its own currency, its own laws regarding gay people, women, and people of color.

The ideas of the founders were a great place to start, but a terrible place to finish. Paul and a lot of other libertarians want to do just that--finish there. That's not acceptable. We cannot finish with the political vision of people who owned people. I mean, hell. They wouldn't have let me vote anyway. There's a serious limit to how much I really care whether I and they are in agreement on anything else.

If I can just get people to admit when they don't give a damn about the impact of their political views on real people, if I can just get them to admit that the fates of LGBT people and POC are an acceptable loss for the cause of perfect obedience to "the founders' vision," then I will count this a victory. It probably won't change their minds, unless by articulating what they believe so clearly they become horrified by it and realize they don't want to believe it anymore, as arctangent once suggested.

These conversations just might make their ideas less appealing to everybody else, though. It just might. If nothing else, bystanders won't have to work nearly as hard or dig nearly as deeply to find the ugly side of American libertarian policy goals.

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Veronica Richveronica_rich on December 31st, 2011 05:48 am (UTC)
Ron Paul needs to come out and say, "I advocated for some stuff that was seriously screwed up, and frankly I associated with some people who want some seriously screwed up things, but my position has evolved."

To be honest, I'm just as glad he doesn't. Because I really don't think he would mean it. I'm fairly cynical, and I have a difficult time believing most people who DO say something like this, unless it has come after a long period of time and/or some life-changing experiences that lead me to believe they're genuinely changing their minds. I'm not on board with the whole Ebenezer Scrooge overnight-change thing. If he started saying this, I wouldn't believe him, but then I'd be in the position of wondering Well, should I, though? Ugh.
monkey monkey underpants!fragmentedsky on January 10th, 2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
Your posts of late have been fabulous & informative (not that they weren't before); how do you feel about being quoted/ linked to if/when I get into political fights on the Internet, given how articulate and well-informed they are?
Virginia Fell: ooh!virginia_fell on January 10th, 2012 05:47 pm (UTC)
Glad that they have been helpful. Feel free to link them or even just grab the links out of them and use them wherever. A lot of this stuff I am specifically compiling in case I need them again, so if you need them too, feel free to use anything I've written as a shortcut.