Friday, November 16, 2007

Republican Unity?

One thing that kept coming back to me today was the fact that the existing party structure here in Fresno seemed anxious to bring the Ron Paul supporters into the fold. The last of the speakers, speaking on behalf of... was it Mitt Romney?... took some of his time to congratulate the Ron Paul supporters for their strong showing (this was before the vote count) and to express his pleasure at seeing so many excited activists. He also tried to make the point that the honorable thing for us to do is to support whomever the Republican nominee turns out to be, whether or not it's Ron Paul. A lady who came to sit at the table I was sitting at reiterated the point. I'm fairly certain some Hillary doom-and-gloom was mentioned, as well.

I can see their point. Indeed, I am at the point where I have officially participated in a Republican event. I am participating in the primaries, and I am beginning to believe that perhaps supporting the eventual nominee, regardless of whom it turns out to be, could well be the honorable thing to do. I am also aware, however, that many, if not most, Ron Paul supporters are not susceptible to this sort of thing. For many of us, what we are doing is not participation; it is an invasion. They are in now, but if Ron loses the nomination, they will be gone just as quickly, many of them supporting a third-party or write-in campaign whether Ron likes it or not.

And I can definitely sympathize. I do have respect for the non-voter, and my usual practice of voting for a third-party candidate serves a similar purpose. There is nothing wrong with making an exception for Ron Paul. And given the fact that our laws fairly firmly establish a two party system, there is nothing wrong with joining an established party and attempting to enact change from within, any more than there is anything wrong with a Soviet-era Russian joining the Communist party, lacking other options, or an Iraqi joining the Baath party, lacking options. Indeed, if the "core" of the Big Two really want to keep their parties to themselves, they're going to have to establish voting methods that provide what can only be described as the disenfranchised portion of the population opportunities for representation, such as approval voting, or, better yet, range voting. So if more established Republicans don't like the Ron Paul Revolution invading "their" party, they really only have themselves to blame.

However, I tend toward seeing what I am doing as participation, not invasion. Partially this is because I don't like invading, and partially this is because I strongly believe that acting like an invader will only end up stirring up more active resistance to our attempts to get Ron Paul nominated. Is that not the very same principle behind much of our opposition to the Iraq War--that there are other ways of getting at the terrorists that do not generate yet more sympathy for the terrorists among their potential recruiting and fundraising base? The principle looks the same to me, thus I shall endeavor to treat my newfound Republican colleagues with due respect. I may only be around for this election cycle, but I'm not going to act like an asshole while I'm here. (For anyone who thinks I am calling them an asshole, please re-read the previous paragraph.)

However, even if the Republican party does manage to keep a few Ron Paul votes, I can tell you for sure: they will not get our energy or our enthusiasm. This isn't because we will withhold it in a miserly fashion; it simply will not exist to be given. If the Republicans want us to cut a single check (figuratively speaking) in favor of their candidate, it had better be Ron Paul. If they want awesome videos on YouTube for their candidate, it can be no candidate other than Ron Paul. If they want us on street corners, waving signs and cheering their candidate's name, it has to be Ron Paul--and no other. I just might vote for whomever the Republican nominee turns out to be, but the Revolution is for Ron Paul alone.

And so that's the score. So what do you Republicans, those of you primarily concerned with beating the Democrats (and not primarily concerned with beating any particular potential Republican nominee), want behind our candidate? Big big corporatist and/or military/industrial money, money that comes with corrupt strings attached? Or do you want the Revolution's money? Do you want slick campaign ads that at least 60% of the population will regard with only the most contemptuous cynicism? Or do you want a labor of love? As I said in my previous entry, it really looks like it's going to come down to Giuliani vs. Paul. For those of you who have your candidates being left in the dust, what is it you want not only in a candidate, but the campaign that will come with him?

Rudy Giuliani is pro-choice, but likely to nominate so-called "strict constructionist" judges. Ron Paul is straight-up pro-life--he outflanks the Democrats on the Right. However, his goal at the Federal level is simply to remove it from the jurisdiction of Federal Courts, making him non-threatening to pro-choicers in pro-choice majority states who also have localist sympathies... and yes, they do exist. This makes Dr. Paul more palatable to staunchly pro-life voters than Rudy Giuliani, while at the same time making him less frightening to pro-choice voters than Mike Huckabee, for example.

It is pretty well demonstrated that a majority are opposed to continuing the Iraq War. Rudy advocates an even more warlike foreign policy than the current Administration. Ron is against the Iraq War... but unlike most of the Democrats, he is also staunchly in favor of a strong national defense, and has also stated repeatedly that he DOES want to go after the terrorist threat, but using different (and more precise) tools than are currently being used. Believe the Democrats don't know what they're talking about regarding foreign policy if you want (and I tend to do the same), but Ron Paul is an expert. Thus, he outflanks the Democrats on the LEFT... while at the same time being sensible enough to keep us safe, making him far less frightening to voters on the Right than any Democrat.

On these two issues alone, we see how Ron Paul outflanks any Democratic candidate on both the right AND the left, while Rudy has issues which make him at least vaguely unpalatable on both sides of the spectrum. Many on the Religious Right are underwhelmed by Rudy's stance on abortion, while lefties of all stripes would support Hillary over Rudy, perhaps begrudgingly, but support her all the same.

And wouldn't you want to see the Income Tax gone? From what I've read, the federal budget has grown at such a rate that we only have to go back to year 2000 spending levels to account for the loss of revenues from the personal income tax. And the benefits of ending the Income Tax only begin with the amount of money people would be allowed to keep. In my opinion, the primary benefit is the removal of the tax code compliance burden that currently limits economic creativity, and thus limits the population's ability to create new wealth.

Finally, I want to ask a question: when are rank-and-file Republicans going to hold their own representatives accountable for broken promises? My primary example is the Department of Education. From what I understand, Republicans once held the position that if they controlled the government, they would abolish the federal Department of Education. However, with Republican majorities in both the House and Congress, as well as a Republican in the Oval Office, we didn't get the Department of Education abolished. What we got was No Child Left Behind, an expansion of federal power over education unprecedented even in Democratic years. Why? I really want an answer to this question.

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