Weighing Planks in a Political Program

Article by Anthony Gregory.


I have noticed many progressives opposed to Ron Paul will say something like this:

“Ron Paul might be right on the drug war, bailouts of Wall Street, the war in Afghanistan, and civil liberties issues, but these are exceptions to an otherwise horrible program. Ninety percent of what he supports is terrible. People on the left should not support him just over a few issues.”

It fascinates me that anyone thinks this way. I am a shameless libertarian. I love the free market and oppose the federal government doing anything. Yet if a leftist president was actually good on the drug war, bailouts of Wall Street, the war in Afghanistan, other foreign military adventures, and civil liberties issues, while being a typical Democrat on everything else, I would prefer that candidate a thousand times over Mitt Romney (or Barack Obama).

From a certain perspective, we can say that economic policy drives everything. If we are arguing about whether to have total communism or a market economy, we are not quibbling over details, but rather life or death for millions, civilization or its destruction. But that is never the debate over economic policy. The difference between Romney and Obama is hardly worth writing home about. Even looking at the difference between Ron Paul’s proposed economic policy for his first term and the status quo — while it is very substantial, probably the most substantial economic reform proposed on the national stage in decades — it still does not amount to the difference between free-market capitalism and communism. For hundreds of thousands of people, however, the difference between a foreign policy of non-intervention and one of endless war is indeed one of life or death, or at least living under somewhat tolerable conditions or seeing one’s entire reality destroyed by the empire.

For the sake of the character of our civilization, and for the sake of millions of people living in the rest of the world, the difference between living under a state envisioned by Ron Paul and the current one — one that wages wars in nation after nation, indefinitely detains people without judicial checks and balances, assassinates citizens without due process, shields torturers from accountability, cuts entire countries off of trade with brutal sanctions, warrantlessly wiretaps the domestic population, jails hundreds of thousands of peaceful Americans for victimless drug crimes, shovels hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars to corporate cronies — is not just a minor difference. If progressives care about this stuff, I would think it wouldn’t all be lumped together as one or two issues out of a dozen or more. I would think it would count for much more of one’s analysis. Again, if Obama were Ron Paulian on everything but domestic welfare and taxes, I’d still prefer him to Romney without question. I wonder why lefties don’t share these priorities.

For me, the question of war and diplomacy is at least half of what matters— because war is mass murder and uproots and snuffs out the lives of millions upon millions of innocent people. If Romney (or Obama) were actually going to stop the killing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and everywhere else — end the drone murder of children, the CIA funny business, the murderous sanctions, and all the saber rattling — reversing course and promising no more presidential wars — that would be so huge that he would almost have to be an outright communist not to clearly be preferable to his warmongering opposition.

Add in civil liberties questions like torture, wiretapping, indefinite detention, the federal militarization of police, and the drug war, and we’re talking about another 20% or so of what matters — easily. Add to that corporatist bailouts, which are easily among the very worst economic policies, and we’ve got another 10% or so of what matters in federal governance.

These are approximate figures, but the point is: From a humanitarian perspective, any candidate offering an end to America’s wars at home and abroad should be considered correct on more than a “couple” issues. Ron Paul, from a genuine antiwar leftist perspective, shouldn’t be considered good on 10% of the issues — but closer to 90% of the issues. Anyone who would prefer federal genocide and slavery to curbing the EPA and cutting taxes on the wealthy has some twisted priorities.

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