Sunday, November 25, 2007

Is the left intentionally blind?

These two diaries posted at the center of the leftist blogosphere prompts this post as a response to some of the ill-informed commenters there.

The first diary addresses with envy the grassroots success of Ron Paul's presidential campaign, emphasizing their enormously successful fundraising efforts. Analysts and consultants across the board are trying to concoct the perfect formula to duplicate for other candidates the passion and fervor being pumped into Paul's campaign by his volunteers. As one commenter noted, his volunteers are not your typical political activists who are trained as such by the establishment; many of them are inspired for some reason to actively participate in the electoral process for the first time in their lives. What none of them understand is that Paul's campaign isn't in charge, the people are. There is still enough freedom in this country for the rest of you to grab your candidate's message and shout from the rooftops, but you haven't. Ask yourselves why not and you will find the formula you need for a successful grassroots phenomenon to challenge Ron Paul's.

Those reasons people are jumping into Paul's grassroots base are just as diverse as Paul's supporters themselves, who hail from both ends of the political spectrum. Some have latched onto his rigid anti-war position as their dealmaker, others consider his integrity, built over 30 years of a voting record consistently matching his rhetoric, to be the perfect lure, others still consider his established, unwavering devotion to constitutional principles as the most important aspect of their candidate.

Several dkos commenters claim that your average Paul supporter has latched onto his attractive anti-war position without understanding all his other positions. Because surely when they understand his take on abortion or gays or race or the environment (insert other issue here), they will find him to be opposed to all the things good little progressives want out of their government, and would no longer support him simply for his signature position alone. Well thank you for putting words into my mouth, but as a liberal voter who naively trusted the Democratic rhetoric about ending the war and restoring civil liberties in 2006, I can assure you that the majority of Paul's supporters are fully aware of his positions on most issues of the day and we have concluded that some of them are no longer that important.

The Democrats, thank you very much

But before we start explaining this shift in our fundamental priorities, the progressive anti-war left who are still clinging to the hope that the Democrats are their answer to end our aggressive war policies and restore our civil liberties need to understand the history of foreign policy under Democratic leadership. Traditionally Democrats were the ones who pushed military aggression across the globe, from President Wilson's "making the world safe for democracy" through the wars in Korea and into Vietnam under Democratic presidents John F Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, to Clinton's Kosovo and indiscriminate bombing of Iraq and the Middle East (whose 500,000 resultant civilian deaths were a small price to pay for cheaper oil).

Why now would you expect the Democrats to suddenly change their entrenched foreign policy views just because we're in another protracted quagmire that just happened to be started by a RINO? Bush's foreign policy more closely resembles the historical Democratic position than anything ever proposed by a genuine conservative.

Expecting Democrats to restore civil liberties and lighten up on the devastating drug war, and especially looking to another Clinton to do so, reveals total ignorance of the expansion of police state powers during the Clinton I administration. Were you too busy defending him from the vast right wing conspiracy to pay attention to such programs as Echelon and Carnivore?
'ECHELON is also being used for purposes well outside its original mission. The regular discovery of domestic surveillance targeted at American civilians for reasons of 'unpopular' political affiliation or for no probable cause at all... What was once designed to target a select list of communist countries and terrorist states is now indiscriminately directed against virtually every citizen in the world,' Poole concluded.

Did you somehow miss the unconstitutional anti-terror laws he signed into place following the OKCity bombing? And weren't you the ones cheering his move to put 100,000 new cops on the streets to beef up our nation's war on inner city drug users?

How about all the copyright protections shredding your fair use rights to published material and invading your computer for extortion rights that prop up players in the entertainment industry like RIAA? Yeah, that was Clinton too.

And let's not conveniently forget the fact that our monstrous Department of Homeland Security was championed by Democrats, and was initially resisted by President Bush.

So as the progressive left comes to terms with how the Democratic Leadership typically advances war and routinely tramples our civil liberties, their continued hopeless support for these Democrats (and their successors) will be one clever series of twisted intellectual acrobatics. These liberals keep demanding that the Democratic candidates return to their principles so they can vote for these candidates with pride. A return to their principles is a restoration of their military aggression abroad and diminished civil liberties at home. Stop projecting your expectations onto a party who shares no such values.

Shifting Liberal Priorities
The explanation for the shift in priorities that liberals have made in order to support Paul may seem very complicated but in general terms it's really quite simple. There are two ways to explain it.

One is the realization by younger liberal voters that the Democrats are no friend to civil liberties or less aggressive foreign policy stances as outlined above. They're looking to Ron Paul as the only candidate capable of filling that void, because he comes from the original positions of anti-police state, pro-civil liberties, anti-foreign adventurism from the paleo conservative right. The democrats are not going to give us these things, it's not in their history. Just because they now exist as the opposition party to the current violators of our rights does not mean they are the antithesis of these incursions. History suggests that the Democrats, and especially Hillary, will fully support this encroachment, and build on it.

Another way to explain this shift in simple terms is that we (81% of the population) feel the country is moving very rapidly in the wrong direction. Into uncharted territory that requires us to trust our government to lead us there blindly without the rule of law, while trying to reconcile the dissonance that comes from understanding that the government messes things up worse than it fixes.

We've been solving the poverty problem for over 40 years, and it's only gotten worse. We've been slaying the illegal drug demons for about 30 years and our drug problems have only gotten worse. We suddenly have leaders on the national stage defending torture while a militarized, federalized police state grows up around us like kudzu. The war on terror, which was launched quietly under Clinton I, and the war on drugs have eviscerated our innocent until proven guilty notions of justice.

Our manufacturing base and technological superiority have begun shifting to other countries, thanks in great measure to our government's trade policies. College degrees are no longer the promised road to success when they cost you more than you'll earn in any of our rapidly changing industries. Common sense should dictate that you don't commit to $50,000 in education debt if your only career prospects are found in India or China with salaries in the $5-10,000 range.

Meanwhile, the enormous debt racked up by our government is causing economic tremors across the globe. For the past two decades a sense of urgency has taken hold in the public consciousness to make as much money as you can as fast as you can before the opportunity vanishes, because working steadily and saving for retirement over the course of one's life is no longer sufficient as the value of the dollar evaporates before you get the opportunity to spend it, and you come to realize our government's monetary policies have created this problem.

Yes I'd agree with that 81% of the population that we're moving in the wrong direction, and quite rapidly, in large part because of our government's policies. So not too many of us who've been paying attention would be inclined to blindly trust the government to get us wherever we're going in one piece with what's left of our rights intact. In a single broad brush you could simply say our great empire is in decline, and people are coming to realize it.

Staring in the face of virtually imminent totalitarian rule, being one terror attack away from martial law, one financial crisis away from total economic collapse, we realize that when the collapse comes and the dust settles, we'd rather be standing firmly on our established constitutional roots than wake up in a police state under a dictator. In a sense, by supporting Ron Paul, we're coming home to our familiar Constitutional underpinning in preparation for the consequences of the empire's inevitable collapse. The alternative is both foreign and unimaginable to us as an historically free people.

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