Progressives: Ron Paul Better than Obama, But We Still Wouldn’t Vote for Him

At least, that’s what Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic claims. He reviews criticisms of Paul from Matt Yglesias and Adam Serwer, which basically boil down to: he’s pro-life; he favors enforcing immigration laws; he’s a bit kooky about the importance of the Fed. Friedersdorf then puts the boot in:

Wow. They make Ron Paul sound pretty bad. But they’re planning to vote for a guy who is even worse on civil liberties! That’s what gets me about these posts. I am all for critiquing Ron Paul. The newsletters to which he foolishly lent his name were awful. It is indeed wrongheaded that he wants to return to the gold standard. And if America were on the cusp of protecting the civil rights of black people for the first time, I’d campaign against Paul, despite being quite sympathetic to his stance on other issues. Do you know why? It’s because I care about actual liberty enhancing outcomes, whereas both Yglesias and Serwer are evaluating Paul’s candidacy in a way that is curiously removed from the issues that confront us or what would plausibly happen if he won.

As a libertarian who’s somewhat ambivalent about Paul because of issues like trade, immigration, earmarks, and DOMA, not to mention the racist newsletters, I have to say: Right on. If Paul ends up having a truly non-negligible shot at the nomination, I’ll probably vote for him. Otherwise, I’ll go with the guy who lacks these hangups: Gary Johnson.

3 thoughts on “Progressives: Ron Paul Better than Obama, But We Still Wouldn’t Vote for Him

  1. I am an unrepentant Paul-tard and sometime fan of Gary Johnson. Unlike Ron Paul, Gary Johnson is a waffler who has already changed his stance on several issues. Ron Paul rarely back pedals or flip flops. His stance on civil rights is much more nuanced than the left gives him credit.

    The liberal critique of Ron Paul tends to focus on issues, which as president, he would have very little control over, abortion-none, the gold standard-none(article 1, section 8), Civil Rights-none(unless he can repeal the voting rights act and the civil rights act), DOMA-none, the Racist Newsletters-sorry, Lew Rockwell wrote them. Nobody on the left criticizes him for the things he would have a great deal of control over, namely foreign policy and the military.

    The left could and rightly does criticize him for some things he might have some control over, over hauling or abolishing the EPA, the Departments of Energy and Education, getting the federal government out of the education sector, ending the war on drugs, gutting the federal criminal code and reducing federal spending. A Ron Paul election could be considered a mandate on these other things as well a mandate for federalism. For me, those are features, not bugs.

    1. GJ has waffled a bit on Guantanamo and humanitarian interventions, but he’s since clarified his stances in a way that makes me a bit more comfortable. There is one area where a Paul presidency could do some damage – trade agreements. Generally, it’s up to the president to negotiate these. Since Paul has always opposed trade agreements, I think we wouldn’t see any as long as he remains president. That wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world if it were a temporary situation (say, four years), but it’s a real cost.

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