What are liberals to make of Ron Paul?
While we may disagree with his life-long crusade to destroy the social safety net and empower corporations, we have always found his anti-war stances useful. Liberals treat Dr. Paul like a beloved pet, patting him on the head when he brews discontent within the isolationist wing of the Republican party. But recently, liberals have begun to reexamine our tactical alliance with Dr. Paul. A fierce online debate took place, and many liberals, including myself, transformed from bemused admirers into ardent critics.
Freddie De Boer's thoughtful piece perhaps best typifies liberals' defense of Ron Paul. De Boer argues that while Ron Paul may be "odious," he serves a useful purpose at a time when no one within the liberal establishment will stand up as a civil liberties purist. De Boer doesn't like Ron Paul, but sees the expanding security state as an unparalleled threat. He urges liberals to disregard their strong misgivings about Dr. Paul in order to maximize the influence of his ill-begotten anti-war views. He argues that while Ron Paul may be a poor vessel for these issues, he is the only vessel we have.
On the other side of the argument, anti-Paul liberals like Robert Farley ignore the political jujitsu advocated by Boer and others and argue that the Left overestimates Ron Paul's commitment to peace, diplomacy, and human rights. Afterall, Ron Paul opposes all international aide. Like the backwoods militiamen who made him millions on his racist newsletters in the 80s and 90s, Ron Paul opposes international institutions like the United Nations (a happy coincidence!). In 2003, despite opposing the War in Iraq, he actually lauded the Bush administration for ignoring the UN in their push to war. Ron Paul's defenders will surely argue that someone else wrote this article, but this one was written in 2003 and was not part of his controversial newsletter.
Ron Paul would have the United States ignore internationally-sanctioned opportunities for humanitarian intervention. One also wonders what Paul would do if a multi-national corporation decided to commit atrocities against civilians. Would "the invisible hand made me do it!" work in international court? Would Dr. Paul be any more willing to lift a finger than Barack Obama or Bill Clinton? And since Ron Paul wishes to destroy the international diplomatic body, would he remove the possibility of international diplomatic leverage over the purveyers of mass attrocities?
Liberals left Ron Paul to his own devices for many years, and we failed to adequately examine his wacky beliefs beyond the anti-war soundbites that made the news. We applauded him when he decried wars of aggression, but we turned off the TV before he expanded upon his views on the United Nations, international diplomacy, or humanitarian aide.
The more the Left examines the positions of their strange bedfellow, the stranger our alliance seems.
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