07 November 2007


Greenwald yesterday had an interesting piece on Ron Paul, the Libertarian-slash-Republican presidential candidate who caused a stir recently by announcing a record day of internet fundraising ($4.2 million in 24 hours). He salutes Paul for making waves outside of the acceptable boundaries set up by mainstream pundits, and the Republicans have been playing Whack-A-Mole trying to make him go away. Even though this is only really true of Paul's foreign policy stances, it's still worth celebrating modestly.

Paul's views on interventionism have been getting him a lot of mainstream attention, and he obviously enjoys a lot of support from techno-libertarians who prowl the internet like predators looking for any mention of Paul they can pounce on.* What's particularly disappointing, however, is that Paul is sucking up a lot of support that could be occupied by a similarly antiwar but progressive candidate were they not all cowed by the ever-present smears of "Naderism." Paul even sprinkles his antiwar messages with terms like "imperialism" that you'd expect to hear from a hippy-dippy lefty, but the best we can do remains bumblin' Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich, God love him, seems like a nice guy who's only running because he's the only one naive enough to think he can make the Democrats pay any attention to the progressive caucus of their party.

Of course, I have a long list of disagreements with the rest of Paul's political philosophy, and even his isolationism is based more on old-fashioned chauvinism** than international cooperation, but if the Paulites manage to somehow pull it off in the Republican primary it would be an unequivocally positive development. Reforming the imperial strategy will, I think, be the most important issue of the 2008 election, and he is infinitely saner than all the other Republicans, and even some Democrats, here. If nothing else he would throw the Democrats a curveball of the standard Republican bogeyman they've grown so accustomed to attacking.

It's also possible, as I mentioned in a previous post, that Paul could jump ship and run as a third-party, particularly if he fares well in the primaries. I don't think this is terribly likely, but Paul is 72 years old and might just go for the hell of it. He has previously run as the Libertarian nominee in 1988. All these possibilities for major party crackups are just too delicious to be true. If Paul does win the Republican nomination, they will almost certainly prop up a Big "Murica establishment candidate against him, possibly Bloomberg who, although no longer a Republican officially, would have a niche to fill. You have the Dobsonites threatening to split if Rudy's the nominee, though they'd likely settle for the anti-abortion Paul. You have the Broderist wet-dream Unity08, which deserves its own post. And any combination or all of this would liberate a lot of progressives from the yokes of Democrats whining about spoilers, especially if Hillary is the nominee, which seems nearly inevitable now. If only we could find a candidate....

*Elsewhere at Salon, Andrew Leonard considers the prevalence of the techno-libertarian. It's a compelling case, but I see it as more simply a belief in inevitable improvement through technological progress with themselves as the vanguard, who ought not be encumbered by the concerns of the non-interfacing mortals ("who will rid me of these troublesome proles?").

**I disagree with Greenwald here that Paul's connections to extremist groups are entirely irrelevant. While this isn't to say he endorses all of their doctrines, there is a good reason why he tends to be the favorite of white supremacists and ultra-nativists.