Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

The Next Ron Paul?

I almost never endorse politicians. I generally regard all elected officials, from the President to dogcatchers, as employees of the real ruling class (C. Wrights Mills’ “power elite”). Voting is merely participating in the king’s coronation rituals in a way that conveys legitimacy on the state. However, there are times when political campaigns can be used for propagandistic purposes. Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012 are examples, and Tulsi Gabbard’s present campaign is another potential example.

I doubt she will get the nomination. The Democrapic party will either find a way to block that from happening (i.e. cheating), or she will simply fail to do well in the primaries because, in my experience, most of the kinds of people who are likely to be voters in the Democratic primaries are not people who consider foreign policy to be a primary issue. What passes for “the Left” in the US is, with some exceptions, pathetic when it comes to international relations. They’re far more interested in idpol, expanding the welfare state, and environmentalism (i.e. advancing the interests of the left-wing of the First World middle class). However, a Tulsi vs. Trump contest in 2020 would be a highly interesting turn of events for a range of reasons.

I think she would actually do better in a general election than in the primaries, though I don’t know if she could beat Trump or not. I think not because not only are there the standard issues like incumbent’s advantage but also because, given her views on international relations, the overlord class would pour money into the Republicans to keep Tulsi out of the White House, and the media would work overtime to ensure her defeat. Notice the only time the media (other than FOX) ever said anything good about Trump were the two times he attacked Syria. It would be a highly interesting and comical situation because the political class, capitalist class, deep state, media, etc would suddenly rally behind Trump after years of endless hating on him because they would view him as objectionable though more easily contained and less immediately threatening to the empire’s interests. It would be a true “memory hole” moment. Such a situation would also greatly exacerbate the cleavage between neoliberals (most of whom would move to Trump) and progressives (most of whom would stay with Tulsi). Certain dividing lines would become clearer among the center (radical center vs. establishment center) and right (neocons vs nativists vs populists vs non-interventionists) as well.

Of course, even if she won Gabbard would be constrained by the wider ruling class, political, and deep state apparatus. At best, she would be another Jimmy Carter, i.e. a moderate who is a generally decent person but essentially unable to maneuver within the framework of a system of overwhelming opposition by elites. The “Trump hate” that has been piled on by the wider ruling class is nothing compared to the “Tulsi hate” that would come about if she were elected (the same would be true of a Republican with similar views).

Any US president who seriously moved against the interests of the oligarchy would meet the same fate as Mosadegh, Arben, Suharto, Diem, Sihanouk, Allende, Saddam, Qaddafi, so many others.

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7 replies »

  1. “What passes for “the Left” in the US is, with some exceptions, pathetic when it comes to international relations.”

    Truer words were never spoken. Neither here nor in Hoboken.

    She is a non-starter because of her comments on gay marriage — made back when every politician said the exact same thing. The chattering classes ignore such views on the left if the candidate is pro-empire (Hillary Clinton), but can use it to destroy any politician with a career longer than five years. This is the same reason why the left frequently changes the words you are allowed to use.

    Ms. Gabbard is really turning into a gift to the empire. Per your totalitarian humanism thesis: The fact that her father was a Christian conservative, who endorsed nutty “gay conversion therapy” clinics, and even hosted an anti-gay radio show, “Let’s Talk Straight Hawaii”, makes her completely unelectable in any Democratic primary. An LGBTQ + women + person of color with a hard peace platform would be much more threatening to the ruling class. The empire lucked out: there is zero opposition to war in any other corner of the Democratic base.

    Stick a fork in her. She’s done.

    • Agreed. As much as the media has hated on Trump for occasionally going off script, it would be many times worse with Gabbard. They would portray her as a “homophobic Assadist Islamophobic anti-Semitic Hindu-fascist socialist tree-hugger who promotes drug use and prostitution.”

      • A reader writes:

        Good write-up on Tulsi today, Keith. You’re probably right that she has no chance, though I agree that it would be extremely interesting if she were to somehow make it to the general. She would probably appeal to quite a few independents and swing voters. Realistically I think her best chance to have any kind of influence beyond the anti-war message of her campaign (which is good for its own sake) would be to join a hypothetical Sanders administration as something like Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, or National Security Advisor, should Bernie win both the Democratic nomination and the general election. I don’t know the odds of her being offered something like that, but still.

        If that were to happen though, I would fully expect her to get muscled out at some point early on, on some pretext, akin to what happened to Michael Flynn — who was still very much a hawk in many ways and merely sought some level of de-escalation and reconciliation toward Russia. It should be noted that Tulsi is still a hawk in some ways as well, but she goes even further than Flynn did in (seemingly) seriously opposing the empire’s interests.

        From what I’ve seen online most Bernie people like her and would welcome her being a part of a Sanders administration, or even his VP (either because they too are genuinely anti-war and/or they respect her past proven loyalty to Bernie in stepping down from the DNC to publicly endorse him during the 2016 primaries).

        But the rest of the party (including even some other progressives) loathe her as a secretly unreformed homophobe and a tool of the alleged global neo-fascist movement headed by Putin. Additionally, I have to say I have my doubts about Bernie himself and how serious he is when it comes to lessening foreign interventions. As you pointed out recently when you shared that “Burlington’s Foreign Policy” piece, over time he’s changed his rhetoric and basically positioned himself to be open to interventions on behalf of “democracy” around the world. He speaks against outright U.S. intervention in Venezuela at the moment, but at the same time accepts many of the premises of those who do support direct U.S. intervention, in that instance and others. I can easily imagine him bending. Clearly, his priorities are elsewhere to begin with, and I don’t at all get the sense it’s a hill he’d die on. And after all, FDR — whom he idolizes — led the U.S. through WWII, bravely fighting for democracy not just at home, but around the world (and so on). All it would probably take is a nudge.

  2. Power corrupts. The best people in the world, as they gain power and affluence, will only become worse. There is no such thing as a good government, because the government is an inflammatory symptom of a social contagion incomprehensible to most individuals. Political authority and social stratification are “secondary infections” so to speak.

    If anything, I welcome the sociopolitical turmoil of partisan divide. I welcome the stalemates and mudslingings within our ruling class. As a woman myself, the thought of a woman president absolutely horrifies me, but I savor the chaos of a hotly contested election. I have no faith in the political process though. If someone runs for president, they already have one foot in the psychospiritual grave.

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