Pollitt’s Perplexity about Pundits on Ron Paul

Revised:

It may be time to stop reading the Nation even earlier than March of this election year. Katha Pollitt engages in a serious distortion of Glenn Greenwald’s position (among others) that we need to pay attention to politicians such as Ron Paul, who are raising questions about President Obama’s continuation of the same policies as GW Bush. Somehow, despite Greenwald’s umpteen ad nauseam disavowals, this point is equated—no, identified –with “support for Ron Paul.” Pollitt also muses on the fact that she hasn’t seen a lot of “leftish white women and people of color” who have supported Paul, but if they do, they are staying pretty quiet about it.

Note, first of all, the old-school-lefty sweeping style of lumping all people of color with “leftish white women.” Women of color can’t have their own category–because they’re too complex and unruly with all their different identity-politic distinctions (y’know: Latina, African-American, Asian, Asian American, South Asian, African, Indigenous, Mestiza, etc.), and so at least “people of color” can address them all in one big sweep. Also, the unwieldiness of mentioning them distinctly will cut into the too-important and limited space of the Nation’s columns.

I can hear the talkback now: Q: What is it with those identity politics anyway? Can “they” just put them aside for the purposes of political solidarity? A: NO. No, “we” can’t. To be fair, that question was not articulated by Pollitt, but by plenty of other libs/progs NEVER in print but often in semi-private and casual conversations. That publicly unspoken question speaks to one of the problems with Pollitt’s post. She may not be speaking for “people of color,” but she’s certainly using “their” collective silence to make a point about the sycophancy of white male pundits in relation to other strange white men.

I wonder why Pollitt needed to point out “people of color” have not supported Ron Paul publicly. Does “their” absence on the Ron Paul platform somehow reaffirm her point about the (white?)“mancrush” for Ron Paul? It may appear to do so, but it’s a strawmancrush. People of color may not have spoken out because they have not reason to support Paul, true. Or they may not articulate support for his anti-war positions because they don’t want to be associated with Paul, given his questionable past positions on race. Or they may fear, as Glenn Greenwald points out repeatedly, that speaking in support of a stance will be CONFLATED with support for the politician. Still, a number of commentators, black and white, have pointed to the troubling policy decisions made or continued under the Obama Administration (and that are only being raised by one political candidate–a libertarian Republican–during this election season). Cornel West has been raising questions about Obama’s policies, as have Paul Krugman and Greenwald. Glenn Loury has recently raised some urgent questions about Ron Paul’s economic proposals to return to the gold standard and eliminating the Fed–EVEN as he points to the fact that Paul is our only anti-war candidate. As Corey Robin points out, a very sad fact for us on the left, because politicians on the left are not raising them.

But HERE FOLKS! I am a brown woman (in case my bio didn’t clue you into that), and I am downright livid at policies passed during the Obama administration (which a number of folks will attest that I anticipated before the 2008 election), which are even worse than expected. I am as livid with progressives who affect a casual? studied? indifference to the Administration’s repeated support for warrantless wiretapping (remember Obama’s vote during the 2008 election season when he took a break in campaigning to return to Washington to vote for the renewal of FISA; for his support of the Justice Department’s withholding of evidence (and even habeas corpus) from detainees on grounds of national security; his commitment to indefinite detention (NDAA was not the first time it’s arisen. We saw his support in the gesture to move Gitmo detainees to a federal prison in Illinois—with only a casual suggestion that they might receive civilian trials—only to watch it die quickly under even modest resistance. Guantanamo is still open with detainees languishing); the expansion of troops into Afghanistan in the first part of his term; the unceasing drone attacks in Pakistan, etc.

Does that mean that I am a fan of Ron Paul? No. Do I admire the fact that he’s articulating an anti-war platform? Yes, but very cautiously and very sadly, given his other questionable positions. As Corey Robin points out, folks who are anti-war have only Paul to look to. And in part, we have only Paul to look to, because of “white leftish women” like Katha Pollitt, who says,

“I, too, would love to see the end of the “war on drugs” and our other wars. I, too, am shocked by the curtailment of civil liberties in pursuit of the “war on terror,” most recently the provision in the NDAA permitting the indefinite detention, without charge, of US citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism. But these are a handful of cherries on a blighted tree.”

Really? Half a million Iraqi civilians dead? Dozens of Pakistani children dead because of drones (or more. We are not allowed to know)? The reproductive systems of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women decimated by decades of US-led chemical warfare ? The curtailment of civil liberties of legal residents (and not merely citizens) in the US? The indefinite detention of tens of thousands of migrants, documented or otherwise? Those migrants include Latinos, South Asians, Arabs, Middle Easterners, Muslims from other parts of the world–detained not just for migrating without papers, but for merely being suspected of terrorism and held without charges, without lawyers, without family knowing, without judicial review–without a way out. These are what an anti-war position would resist. Seriously? Pollitt believes these are cherries on a blighted tree?

Apparently the last time Pollitt checked, women were half the population in the United States. Last time I checked, women were half the population in the parts of the world that the US is decimating. I’m going out on a limb, but I’m guessing that they care about their reproductive systems being trashed. They probably also care about their children dying. I’m wondering what Pollitt thinks about the ripping apart of migrant parents from their children–by deporting at least 46,000 of them* under the Obama Administration? My understanding is that these children all had parents. And apparently those parents cared about them.

This is what Pollitt thinks are trivialities to neglect in the 2012 elections? Pollitt is extremely worried about the world of Ron Paul, in which “there would be no environmental protection, no Social Security, no Medicaid or Medicare, no help for the poor, no public education, no civil rights laws, no anti-discrimination law, no Americans With Disabilities Act, no laws ensuring the safety of food or drugs or consumer products, no workers’ rights.”

How does Pollitt feel about Obama’s initial support of the Tar Sands Pipeline? About helping bailing out Wall Street bankers using the millions of dollars that could have been spent to keep poor folks from losing their houses through robo-signings of foreclosure papers, or helping save the pensions of long time auto workers? About Democrats voting to spend trillions of dollars to send US men and women to war in which they lose their minds, if not also their limbs, and then come home to inadquate medical care, if any, and to perpetual unemployment? Is she really trustful of an FDA that can barely regulate pharmaceutical drugs?

I expect much more of presidents who dismiss their constituencies’ outcries for a return of constitutional safeguards such as habeas corpus, due process, judicial review, congressional approval before engaging in invasions, who want an end to the drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. I expect much more from folks who claim to be progressive and engaged in these outcries during the reign of George II, but have no interest in speaking publicly about the continuation of these same outrages under Obama’s rule (Let’s face it: that’s what it is: a move to increasing autocratic rule, and the most recent signing of NDAA can make no other point).

But like Ross Perot in 1991 (whose third-party candidacy created the space to challenge NAFTA) and Ralph Nader in 2000 (who raised questions about corporate politics and party complicity), the presence of Paul is raising serious questions about some elephants in the room. How do we expect solidarity among folks of color when the cost-benefit analysis is played out by pitting the issues that concern white folks and some US folks of color against issues affecting international populations or other US folks of color, as Pollit does in her column?

Here’s another question: why must I make this claim as a woman of color? As a South Asian woman? As a migrant? Why can’t I make this claim as a US citizen, pure and simple? Why can’t I make this claim simply as a progressive? Somehow that pisses me off. The collective indifference of thousands of progressives, even in OWS, to the minute attention paid to those foreign policies that don’t take an enormous leap of imagination to see the deaths, the bodily and psychic harm, the mutations that result from chemical warfare, that have affected hundreds of thousands of PEOPLE of COLOR. Yes. And I am a “People of color” making this point. For better or worse, Ron Paul is noticing it. I don’t care what his motivations are (again, I AM NOT SUPPORTING HIS CANDIDACY. Glenn: maybe you should have put your alerts in all-caps, like I did). He is raising the questions.

In general, I tend to agree with old-fashioned Southern liberals (Ann Richards, Molly Ivins, Jim “armadillo guy” Hightower), etc. Southern libertarians or anything elses, less so. So, I’m not surprised by Paul’s primitive and bass-ackwards views on affirmative action, race, gay rights, women. But then again, I don’t expect much of libertarians, in the same way that I expect little of conservatives or neo-liberals. And I am pleased when they raise an issue to which I am sympathetic.

For other pundits who insist that holding Obama to such difficult standards is racist, since after all Bill Clinton was a neo-liberal white president who engaged in some pretty dubious domestic and foreign policy in the first term and still got re-elected by Democrats: I have news. I was pissed in 1996. And there was the same lesser-of-2-evils guilt tripping that revolved around gathering support for the “centrist” incumbent. The Clinton Administration was the harbinger of some pretty serious human rights violations, as I see it: The 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, 1996 Welfare Reform Act (PRWORA), and the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsiblity Act (IIRIRA), the “3 Strikes” (1994 Crime Act). All of those are crucial pieces of the road to indefinite detention and the eradication of civil liberties for US people of color. But we had the same guilt-trip in 1996 that we had in 2000, 2004, 2008, and again today: We have to do a cost-benefit analysis to see how “we” (read White Leftish Women and Men, and some segment of “People of Color”) stand to lose more personal benefits if we vote for the “worse” of 2 evils than for the “lesser” of 2 evils. It is always interesting to see how “we” couch the vote for the lesser of 2 evils in terms of how it will help “Other people” (even as it mostly helps us assuage our consciences and ensures that our status quo will not get worse.

Essentially, Pollitt’s column comes down to this: We want solidarity among liberals and progressives—but only on terms determined by WHITE leftish women and a segment of white men and some people of color. So it’s fine to be critical of President Obama and other Democrats. But DON’T suggest that a Republican–a conservative Libertarian–might raise a substantial issue that puts the libs/progs in an awkward spot. Especially NOT during Election Year. We can forgive a Democrat who’s continued a war that has killed and maimed Arabs, Muslims, poor folks of color who are NOT citizens of this mighty White-serving country (and killed and maimed thousands of US soldiers, too), but don’t funk with Pollitt’s reproductive rights. Certainly Obama has not expanded access to reproductive options to women without healthcare. I’m completely in support of the rights of middle- & upper-class white women to have abortions, but I’m also in support of the ability of US poor women & women of color, along with international women of color (poor or otherwise) to have access to reproductive health as well. Drones in Pakistan and chemical warfare in Iraq (yes, I know—Obama has “withdrawn” US troops from there—but only b/c Iraq wouldn’t let the US stay), and remaining in Afghanistan doesn’t exactly enhance access to reproductive rights for women. Nor does it facilitate clean air, water, or an unpolluted environment.

Here’s my other question: Why does this have to turn into a “guilt by association” debate? Why can’t we discuss the questions that are being raised as serious and important questions, rather than referendums on voters’ or pundits’ moral character? I don’t have to like Ron Paul (and why do we need to LIKE our politicians?). I don’t have to have dinner with him. He doesn’t need to be a friend. He is raising the questions that every other liberal and progressive and feminist (yes, including you, Katha) should be raising and forcing the Democrats to address. As Greenwald has pointed out, these issues only become outrage-worthy when the Republicans are spearheading human rights violations, because it gives the libs and progs a lever by which to claim political superiority. The silence on the Democrats’ record of human rights violations is deafening. And they’re more than cherries on a blighted tree. They’re dead bodies on the blighted conscience of Americans.

*An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported 46,000 deportations of migrants. In fact, 46k represents the number of parental deportations of migrants who had US born children, from the six month period of Jan-June 2011, according to journalist Seth Wessler, who reported the original story in Colorlines.

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Author: Falguni A. Sheth

I'm a philosopher and political analyst who writes about all kinds of things, from national security, US politics, race, terrorism, miscegenation, feminism, philosophy, and whatever else captivates my attention. My views are idiosyncratic. I'd like to believe they're carefully considered, and I'm not particularly interested in following crowds.

86 thoughts on “Pollitt’s Perplexity about Pundits on Ron Paul”

  1. the Nation magazine has been for some time a ‘ Let;s reform the Democratic party ‘ group. When push comes to shove, they ‘ shove ‘ the ‘ Lesser of two evils ‘ mantra at us. thus, they do NOT want progressive minded folks to in any way support Ron Paul. I agree with you that Ron Paul is not my cup of tea on domestic issues ( other than the FED and bank bailouts ) . yet, what he is doing now is rallying many to the foreign policy cause he leads ( where are the progressive Democrats in Congress to rally with him? They cannot, because, like the Nation mag. they will follow the leader ( Mr. Obama ) all the way.
    It is time for ALL of us who see through the empire to join together , as I do here, on street corners and town squares, to trumpet the truth about this empire, and how it is destroying our cities and states and our very national soul.
    forget elections… go and vote, but leave the 2 party slots blank or write in. concentrate on education our neighbors as to the truths of empire that Paul is focusing on.

  2. Get the country at peace and the problems will be solved. The US is the most secure country [as defined by borders] in the world. To be secure it does not need much military. Canada a problem? hardly. Mexico? hardly. War distracts the country from being as progressive as it would be if it were allowed to be at peace. It has been lied into wars since the Korean War and has suffered as a result.

  3. Well well well… What have we got here but yet another example of leftists infighting. And over what? The usual: identity politics. The I-am-more-minority-that-you-are-and-therefore-I’m-right-and-you’re -wrong.

    I consider myself liberal (not progressive; that’s a cowardly cop out”) who will for for Ron Paul if he’s nominated. And no Trotsky-loving leftist can stop me.

    1. You are not a liberal or a progressive of any kind. Your use of the phrase “Trotsky-loving leftist” exposes you for what you are: an ignorant American.

  4. It might be interesting to consider that Obama is the best gift possible to the neoconservative monopolist One Percenters – because he can do things as a Democratic African American president that would be massively opposed by the “progressives” if, say, John McCain had been elected and undertook those same policies.

    Why anyone who watched Obama vote for retroactive legalization of warrantless wiretapping (or at least prevention of any court action against it) could vote for him and expect any “Change” is a mystery to me. I don’t know why Obama behaves as he does – although I detected in his biography a strong calculating sense of what’s best for him that reminded me of some of George Bush’s inability to empathize with anyone else – but of course W’s lack of compassion seemed to be better characterized as psychopathic. We could sit around and speculate. But nothing we concluded would change the fact that not only do we have a president who has continued and worsened the Bush assault on civil liberties, but one who has in foreign affairs claimed to start a new day with the Muslim countries of the world, only to strengthen USG support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and for the Israeli assault on Iran (to the point of assassination of Iranian scientists and preparation for war – we’ve already committed what amounts to a war crime by our new sanctions on Iranian financial institutions. The Department of State is going about the world promoting exploitation of natural gas via “fracking,” despite the major concerns about this process and its huge use of water, among other things. The administration withdraws support for new EPA regulations, and for new regulations on the use of antibiotics by the industrial meat industry (with the specious claim that the industry can police itself). It bows to the rightwing and refuses the evidence of its own medical advisory board on making the day-after pill available to younger women. The administration is stuffed with members of the Wall Street and banking industries that nearly bankrupted the country, and it refuses to prosecute anyone for the massive fraud still continuing. The signature “progressive” reform is in fact a huge gift to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Etc. Etc.

    Matt Talibi is right – we’ll be voting for two representatives of the One Percent. One will be a white man. The other will be an African American man. There will be no other difference.

    1. The other difference of course is the party affiliation here. And here if you think about it, there could be some benefit to having someone in office folks who consider themselves left of center would actually oppose if he does something like try to assassinate Americans without trial…..

  5. This is a very strange debate. Instead of working to find and promote a candidate that might properly represent liberal ideals, seemingly intelligent “free thinkers” are trading jabs about the relevance of Ron Raul. Madness, I say. Their just seems something strangely awry when extreme praise and ardent condemnation occur simultaneously. “He’s ANTI-WAR, but I would NEVER VOTE for him.” “He’s a BIGOT, but OPPOSES the Patriot Act.”

    A good start might be with the two comments preceding my own. Especially the recommendation of Jill Stein by Aquifer. At least this represents something tangible.

    And, as this whole Ron Paul rigmarole is a somewhat rehashed topic of insanity, as I recently discovered, I’ll toss these firecrackers into the mix –

    http://www.isreview.org/issues/57/rep-ronpaul.shtml
    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2007/wolf191207.html
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2008/01/07/ron-paul-s-run/

    Remember, the more you discuss Ron Paul and how much you’re not going to vote for him, the more attention you draw to Ron Paul.

    Cheers.

  6. I think the point is that there is no serious “left” left in the United States, and the resulting vacuum lets liberals and “progressives” – whatever that means – masquerade as one. A serious left wouldn’t spend any time grousing about the lousy political choices provided by the ruling class or be limited in tactics or strategy by their rules, and certainly wouldn’t see it’s goal as winning the next election. A serious left wouldn’t be satisfied with the world as it exists but would be interested in changing it. A serious left would understand that that goal requires a long, difficult and probably violent struggle with no guarantees except that thinking small and safe spells defeat before you’ve even started. A serious left would be interested in doing the organizing that would create the institutions of struggle necessary to win this long term victory, rather than be satisfied with the “protest pits” provided by the rulers. Above all, a serious left would have a vision of an social alternative to capitalism that would be more democratic, elgalitarian and ecological, and would focus on learning to talk about this alternative to real, working class people without jargon and cant, and not simply to preach to each other.

    1. Excellent points, John, and points that I’ve been making for some time now. Perhaps this furor over Ron Paul will provide some openings for the ideas we have been promoting. We can hope …

  7. BTW – the reason it is ESPECIALLY galling is that many prog bloggers make a habit of pointing out how the MSM persistently ignores issues that need to be covered and persistently ignores or misrepresents a prog. point of view. Then when progressive 3rd parties do try to enter the fray, they are marginalized not only by the MSM, but by our own supposedly “prog” media! Good Grief! These candidates are dismissed because they are “not known” – but how the hell, in the absence of big corporate bucks, are they supposed to GET known, unless the media outlets that profess sympathy for their views give them “air time”!

  8. “Still, a number of commentators, black and white, have pointed to the troubling policy decisions made or continued under the Obama Administration (and that are only being raised by one political candidate–a libertarian Republican–during this election season). Cornel West has been raising questions about Obama’s policies, as have Paul Krugman and Greenwald. Glenn Loury has recently raised some urgent questions about Ron Paul’s economic proposals to return to the gold standard and eliminating the Fed–EVEN as he points to the fact that Paul is our only anti-war candidate. As Corey Robin points out, a very sad fact for us on the left, because politicians on the left are not raising them.

    As Corey Robin points out, folks who are anti-war have only Paul to look to.”

    Here’s the problem and why some of us are indeed upset that all our prog bloggers are giving so much time and space to the views of RP – politicians on the left ARE raising these issues and folks who are anti war DO have genuine progs to look to, and one of these folks IS actually running for Pres.

    http://www.jillstein.org

    Now one can say that we are restricting this conversation to MAJOR party candidates, but that is the BIG problem. When prog bloggers refuse to advance, or even simply ignore, the causes of 3rd party candidates just because they are 3rd party, the end result is the perpetuation of this duopoly that is screwing us all to death.

    So, M Robin, and the rest of you folks – you DO have a choice and it is not a Sophie’s choice – you CAN support someone who is ant-war, pro civil liberty AND pro reproductive freedom., pro environment, etc. And if you are not aware of that, then you haven’t done your homework. That mistake was made by too many who supported Obama – what a shame to make it AGAIN ….

    The big blind spot out there is NOT among progs who don’t like Paul – it is among progs who refuse to go outside the duopoly. So when folks like Greenwald, et.al keep raising Paul up, in whatever context, as a paragon of some sort of virtue under the guise that he is better than nothing – while ignoring folks who are CONSIDERABLY better indeed – yeah, we get a bit pissed …

  9. I used to be a Democrat but fled the party in 2004. While I don’t agree with Ron Paul on abortion and a few other things, I agree with him about our foreign policy, monetary policy, bailouts, eroding civil liberties. And I don’t believe for a second that Ron Paul is anything close to a racist. I’m a lesbian but identify as a citizen first. I’m with Paul on not lumping us all into nice, neat little categories. We’re all the same and should be treated a such. He’s got my vote based on principle.

  10. Would someone explain to me why, if Paul is such a racist, would he come out against the War on Drugs (for reasons having to do with its overall immorality) and point out, in particular, how it has unfairly targeted non-whites of our society? Is he just ‘crazy’? Is he lying to cover up his true feelings towards Blacks?

    I am not trying to be tongue-in-cheek here. I want someone to explain it to me because I don’t understand. Please, I am not stupid either – I can understand a logical answer.

    1. Ron Paul’s opposition to the WOD has nothing to do with race. Look at it this way: Abraham Lincoln opposed slavery even though he was an overt White Supremacist. He opposed slavery from the Progressive position of the time, which was that slave owners had an unfair economic advantage over smaller, white farmers.

      He wanted to deal with the freed slaves by sending them back to Africa, since he didn’t consider them to be “real Americans.” Sound familiar? It should, because Ron Paul’s newsletters used to say the same thing, back in the ’90s.

      For libertarians, race need not enter into their critique of the WOD or any other wars. It’s not a concern for them. One can still be racist and oppose the WOD.

    2. Ron Paul is against the War on Drugs because Ron Paul is a “Libertarian” Free-Marketer and there is billions of dollars to be made in the private sector if illegal drugs were made legal. It is all about the Money. Period.

      The reason that American Imperialism has extended its influence into Afghanistan is the War FOR Drugs, in that it militarily supports those who are benefitting financially from the poppy/heroin trade. It is all about the Money. Period.

      1. just to be clear, RP has, in fact, pointed out the injustice of the WOD on people of color. no, that’s probably not why he opposes it, but the fact that a christian white christian republican from texas is the presidential candidate who said it remains pretty remarkable.

  11. The more I read about this whole Glenn Greenwald/Ron Paul thing the more I think it has little to do with political issues, policy or Glenn Greenwald and Ron Paul themselves. Glenn Greenwald and Ron Paul are both guilty of the same sin, having opinions that have not been rubber stamped by conservative or progressive leaders. Anyone who has the audacity of having their own opinion or to agree with a point of someone from the other team deserves absolute scorn. How quick the political are to eat their own.

    Some people are so obsessed with seeing the world in two dimensions that any suggestion that the world works in three or more is an unforgivable heresy. If CNN, Fox News or MSNBC say that nothing coming out of Ron Paul’s mouth should be taken seriously, well then that word is cannon. Anyone who dares to take the issues that Ron Paul champions seriously(rather they be critical or supportive) is guilty of treason against modern political thought. Either you submit to the Republican establishment without question or the Democrat establishment without question. Anything else is to be considered insane.

  12. This is an excellent post. So many good points…thank you. In these so very disturbing times, it is a small but valuable consolation to find good progressive writers.
    I campaigned for Obama, with skepticism- I’d read about his ambition, his political opportunism- but I still had lots of hope. Like so many. I realized very quickly with the appt of Geithner/Summers, with universal health care off the table before negotiations began, etc., what he was about, that we’d been conned. but I never could have dreamed he’d beat Bush on things like the security state and deportations. And I feel more fury with Obama than bush because I expected something, and then the lies, the betrayal. But then again, he is just another corrupt politician.
    I have always felt it a sort of racism, this white liberal crush on Obama that prevented, prevents still, so many of them from calling him for the corporate hack he is. If he were white, campaigned as he did, and then abandoned those promises, what would the liberal response had been?
    The response to Cornell West was appalling.
    To see supposed progressives play a role in maintaining our corrupt system…
    We can now see who the real progressives writers are, though I am not sure it does any good. True progressives like GG are conveniently branded as extremists and certainly in a minority and who’s paying attention to them, just the minority of progressives and some trolls.
    As for Paul, so much of what he stands for is odious. He is most certainly NOT a progressive, but, as you say, many “white leftish women” and other supposed liberals have prevented a true progressive from challenging Obama, and left the particular important points discussed above to Paul. I am a very leftish white low income woman (what does that allow me to value?) and am glad someone in the presidential circus/race is making the points he is making, but find his greatest value has been as impetus to the excellent blog posts by truly progressive writers, and the ensuing confrontations with the faux-liberals which expose their hypocrisy.
    Trish

  13. The author could mention Obama’s crackdown on medical marijuana as a strike against ‘people of color’. So much so that the NAACP is partnering with NORML to try to decriminalize marijuana use, as the drug war inordinately targets black men.

  14. aogfc: How many times do you have to hear that being glad that SOMEONE is talking about vital issues is not the same thing as “supporting” Ron Paul? Honestly, how many?

    Will this time do it? I frickin’ doubt it. But out of respect for the life in your humanity, let it be said yet once again–“SOMEONE ON THE NATIONAL STAGE IS TALKING ABOUT VITAL ISSUES AND WE ARE GLAD. THAT’S ALL!!!!

    Gah!!!

    1. I know what you mean. Several pages of comments later, and people are still making the same distortions and misrepresentations of a very simple idea. David Sirota called it a Ron Paul Derangement Syndrome, similar to how Obama drives certain troglodyte conservatives loony.

  15. What are we all going to be left with at the end of the day? A Romney/Obama choice.

    Unless Paul runs as a third-party candidate, I don’t how the status quo is going to be interrupted.

    The extreme dissatisfaction that Paul is allowing progressives to voice about Obama is very heartening, but the 2-party system must be broken.

  16. It’s sad that ANY leftist would support that Randian psychpath, Ron Paul. The leftist candidate for president for me is Stewart Alexander. Anti~war, pro~worker… If you tell me “well, he can’t win?”. Well, the only winners in a Plutocracy are the Plutocrats, and I’d rather vote my conscience.

  17. Errata….

    I only wish that this blog had a “Preview” feature. The first paragraph of the above comment should read as follows:

    I was drawn to your blog today via the link provided by Glenn Greenwald in his latest piece at Salon.com, and I must agree that yours is an excellent analysis of Katha Pollitt’s attack on Greenwald (and others) who dare to suggest that Ron Paul’s positions on a variety of issues — from war and peace and the national security surveillance state to the corruption that inheres in the relationships among the titans of Wall Street, K Street, the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Treasury, and Republican and Democratic administrations alike — are worthy of some consideration.

    Sorry about that.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  18. Falguni Sheth

    I was drawn to your blog today via the link provided by Glenn Greenwald in his latest piece at Salon.com, and I must agree that yours is an excellent analysis of Katha Pollitt’s attack on Greenwald (and others) who dare to suggest that Ron Paul’s positions on a variety of issues from war and peace and the national security surveillance state to the corruption that inheres in the relationships among the the titans of Wall Street, K Street, the Federal Reserve, and U.S. Treasury, and Republican and Democratic administrations alike.

    But I was most struck by the accuracy of your criticism regarding Pollitt’s “old-school lefty” sweeping generalization fallacy of lumping all people of color with “leftish white women” coupled with the ludicrous assertion that she hasn’t seen a lot of “leftish white women and people of color” who have supported Ron Paul, but if they do, are “staying pretty quiet about it.”

    Pollitt seems to suggest that “leftish white women and people of color” are (or should be) in lock-step support of Barack Obama and like-minded Democrats and/or that they are too timid or ashamed to admit their heresy. Pollitt appears oblivious to the possibility that “leftish white women and people of color” might applaud Ron Paul’s positions on a variety of specific issues while withholding their “support” of his candidacy for president.

    When this “leftish white woman” wishes to know what “people of color” have to say about Barack Obama and his cohort, I consult the brilliant writers at Black Agenda Rerpot for searing and ongoing critical analysis of the First Black President, to wit:

    By Glen Ford, Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report:

    The Wasteland of Democratic Politics
    http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/wasteland-democratic-politics

    “We know that we are in an electoral political wasteland when the only major party discussion of U.S. empire and endless warfare takes place in the Republican presidential primary. On foreign policy, Ron Paul calls for closing hundreds of U.S. bases abroad, opposes U.S. empire-building and the fraudulent war on terror. Paul opposes preventive detention and the drug war, and he has led the charge against the Federal Reserve which, under President Obama, has become the umbilical cord that binds the imperial American state to the imperial bankers Wall Street.

    “Of course, Ron Paul is no friend of Black people, or working people of any race. He is a racist, who has always worked closely with white supremacists who wish for a return to the apartheid America of the founding white fathers. Ron Paul’s foreign policy and civil liberties stance, as a Republican, is noteworthy only because of the contrasting light it shines on the vast desert that Democratic Party politics has become under the grip of militarists and Wall Street. ”

    Glen Ford, who is African-American, advances essentially the same argument as that offered by Glenn Greenwald regarding Ron Paul’s political strengths and deficiencies while refusing to ignore Barack Obama and his flagrant, egregious, and all too obvious political sins of commission and omission

    Ford concedes that the GOPers are “ugly, nasty, and evil” but asserts that President Obama — as the most attractive and articulate servant of Wall Street and the military industrial complex — is not the Lesser Evil, but, rather, the “More Effective Evil.”

    PS — For what it’s worth, BlackAgendaReport.com. is a worthy addition to any blog roll. They publish new essays and audio commentary every Wednesday.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      1. Professor Sheth

        The writers at Black Agenda Report are more focused on how to understand and confront the abusive policies of the Obama administration, since so many of those policies and prescriptions are based upon the continuation, expansion, and rapid acceleration of policies established by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11, and often made manifest with the enthusiastic bipartisan support of the House and Senate.

        Best,
        SB

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    1. One of the things that seems to repeatedly come back to me is the idea that there is a large group of yuppie folks who consider themselves to be enlightened, pro-diversity folks but for whom diversity is just a buzz-word. I suspect that the rationale for lumping people of color with women is the idea that if everyone is in a position of being disadvantaged, there ought to be some sort of solidarity. The problem is, this doesn’t work. In fact I would go so far as to say that historically, the left in this country has been no better at encouraging diversity than the right, and that those of us who do value cultural diversity need to look harder for a place to make our voices heard.

      On one long transpacific flight, I was once talking with a woman from a smallish college city in Western Washington (which votes very heavily Democratic). She was an immigrant from Indonesia, a Muslim, South-East Asian. My wife is Chinese-Indonesian, a Christian, but also South-East Asian, and we live in a small, rural town in Eastern Washington (which votes fairly Republican). So we were comparing what we could get in local supermarkets to cook ethnic food. You’d think that the city would come out ahead. In fact, the small town came out well ahead. In my town we could readily and perpetually buy beef shank, goat meat, chicken feet, beef heart, beef tongue, tripe, and intestine at the local supermarket (thanks, quite frankly, to a significant Hispanic community), while none of these were typically accessible in her city on a regular basis (she had to drive to Seattle to buy them). I conveyed my appreciation to the local supermarket when I returned.

      So the lesson I drew from that is that diversity is not just about politics of power. It’s about speech patterns. It’s about what we eat. it’s about what our supermarkets are willing to carry in terms of food. It’s about how we throw parties, and how we raise our kids. The problem is that the left and the right in this country have tended to proceed from different views of universality, particularly regarding aspects of morality. They are both diversity crushing ideologies and incompatible with the sort of cultural pluralism that I think that we need.

  19. this grinning jug eared fraud known as Obama has cured me from ever voting (D)emoRat again. The fact that this blatant liar can get away with things that his party would never have swallowed if Bush did it is disgusting. I’ll also never forget being called a “Racist” when trying to point out that this disgusting liars main “accomplishment” was passing a republican insurance mandate.

    Democrats really are a bunch of stupid fools. Never again.

  20. To all progressives,

    What kind of tyranny will be the limits that will break your cognitive dissonance your support of the status quo and Pres. Obama (and yes you ARE supporting the status quo and the murder of foreigners when you support Obama and this empire)?

    It seems a very good strategy is to vote for Ron Paul (and get other progressives and liberals to vote for him) so that he can end the wars and stop this invasion of the world, and then you can deal with the other domestic problems.

    You guys really need to consider what is REALLY holding you back from something like that realistic strategy rather than committing yourselves to vote for dictator Obama.

    You’re going to have to let go of your 1st grade logic that Presidents are superhuman people that control your lives and you are their slaves. You the individual are the ones responsible for your future. Don’t drag the rest of the freedom loving peaceful people down with you.

  21. “Note, first of all, the old-school-lefty sweeping style of lumping all people of color with “leftish white women.” Women of color can’t have their own category–because they’re too complex and unruly with all their different identity-politic distinctions ”

    I had a friend who was a leftist college student in New Zealand. He went and joined a student discussion group for gays, lesbians and people of colour and was only slightly tolerated at first and eventually told he didn’t belong there, being straight and not a “person of colour.” He said “WTF? Is white not a colour?”

  22. As a liberal who has finally realized that “holding my nose” and voting for the lesser of two evils has resulted in the “lesser” evil becoming far more evi than it washttp://obamascandalslist.blogspot.com/2009/10/table-of-contents.htmll, I am dismayed at the purely binary thinking of so many people. The automatic reaction of so many to my statement that I can no longer vote for Obama or any Democrat I’m offered on the national level with the assumption that I must, therefore, be planning to vote Republican (no) or not vote at all (no).

    As a human being who also happens to be a woman with ancestors who all hailed from northern Europe within the last few hundred years, I cannot support Obama or the national Democratic Party he represents. Obama’s FISA vote gave me pause, as did his obvious conservatism and his dubious support of feminism, but I voted for him anyway. No more. I understand he inherited a horrible mess, and did not expect him to wave a magic wand to make it all better. It is the actions he has chosen to make (NDAA is the most recent I know of) that make him someone I cannot, in good conscience, support.

    I cannot understand the people who say, essentially, that while his human rights and civil liberties actions are horrendous, he is “less bad” on women’s issues than the Republicans and that I, as a woman, must therefore support him. I say “less bad” is still bad and the incremental chipping away of rights is often worse than the dramatic chop because many don’t notice until it’s already happened. Which I now think is a feature, not a bug.

    Anyone claiming the “right” to order the death of anyone, to rain down death and destruction on any (so far, foreign) country he/she pleases, and the ability to designate anyone he/she chooses as a member of a group of people newly defined as having no rights or recourse is not someone I can support. Even if such a person were to offer full-throated support of women, minorities, education, the environment, worker’s rights, any or all of the stances formerly identified as “liberal,” I could not believe that person truly supported any of them.

  23. Dems are on this like a dog with a bone because it helps them divert attention from the public’s reality: no party represents me.

  24. This is very thought-provoking and insightful. Thank you.

    (Technical note: There are 2 typos, one at the end of the first paragraph, a missing “are” between “they” and “staying,” the other at the middle of the last paragraph, “Greenwald as” should be “Greenwald has.”)

    1. Third typo, not just between “they” and “staying,” but afterward: the word should have been “quiet,” not “quite.”

  25. I love this post, but there is one point that I think needs clarifying.

    You wrote, “I’m completely in support of the rights of middle- & upper-class white women to have abortions, but I’m also in support of the ability of US poor women & women of color, along with international women of color (poor or otherwise) to have access to reproductive health as well… and remaining in Afghanistan doesn’t exactly enhance access to reproductive rights for women.”

    On the issue of reproductive rights of women abroad, Afghanistan notwithstanding, Obama is much better than Paul or any of the Republicans. Obama restored US funding to the UNFPA, which increases the availability of reproductive services to women all over the world. Paul pledged to cut all foreign aid, and, as an anti-choicer who aligns himself on that issue with Christian fundamentalists, I would imagine UNFPA might be early on the chopping block. He is also against federal funding of birth control.

    This does not mean he isn’t right about issues related to war, empire and civil liberties (which are not “narrow,” as Vidor insists), or that Obama is not wrong about many of those issues. And I’m not telling anybody to shut up about these essential topics during an election season, or anything like that.

    But when it comes time to pull the lever in November, the issue of foreign aid and women’s rights abroad is one on which Obama is likely to be better on balance compared to Mitt Romney (if he’s the nominee.) In comparing him with Paul, however, it is essential to point out the effects of waging war on everyone, including women, so thank you for doing that. It is also essential to bring these all of these issues up in election season, no matter what the partisans say.

    1. Dear BentleyOwen:

      Thanks for your comment. My point regarding reproductive health had to do the with the effects of the chemical warfare that has been waged for a decade, at least in Iraq
      http://english.irib.ir/voj/topics/iraq-over-the-week/item/80900-us-cluster-bombs-gift-cancer-to-iraqi-people
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/30/faulluja-birth-defects-iraq

      And with regard to decimating the economic and political structures needed (at a minimum) to being able to have reproductive freedom). A similar point would apply to women in the US (see my post on Voting Model #2).

      Sending funds via UNFPA may be helpful (though I’m not sure–it also depends on how the funds are distributed, the messages that accompany those funds, and endgoals–are they distributed with view of population “control,” for example?). I would consult the site of Population Development and other progressive organizations before coming to a conclusion.

      http://popdev.hampshire.edu/

      Regards,
      FS

  26. It’s amazing how many commenters on this stream either (1) lump ALL Progressives and Democrats together, or (2) misread (disingenuously or not) Glenn Greenwald.
    Paul has a point, and it’s a very crucial point. We can ignore it at our peril or we can us it. After all, Obama himself told us that we have to make him do what is right. The American political system has become so corrupt that the least we can do is to wreak as much havoc as possible on it. Otherwise we’re just “shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.”

  27. The problem with the left is that they think their forceful domestic interventionism is completely righteous, just as the neocons think their foreign interventionism is completely righteous. The message of Ron Paul, is of course, individualism: “If you are for personal liberty and less government intervention, you must be willing to protect all private property, whether it be the bedroom in one’s house or a restaurant owned by a racist businessman.”

    This is how aspects of the Civil Rights Act helped pave the way for the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act.

    1. Vote for hope and change until you either get change or run out of hope. And change we can believe in is not change stamped with the words ‘In God We Trust…’

  28. excellent analysis. i was directed your way by kevin gosztola. anyway, it is extremely refreshing to see folks that are not saying dumb things as a result of ron paul. i have been perplexed for months now at why some people need him, and some people need to hate him.

    his record on race/gender/sexuality issues is abysmal, but par for the course of many other republicans and even “libertarians” (most people who call themselves that actually don’t even know what it means, in my opinion) – but so what? we won’t vote for him, just like we wouldn’t vote for anyone who espoused those views. that doesn’t mean that his anti-war and pro-civil liberties stance isn’t valuable though.

    i think its unfortunately a function of so few people being aware of civil liberties/anti-war/anti-imperialist issues in the post-Obama era – and its extremely frustrating in the context of these exact issues being the ones President Obama has broken the most promises on.

    policy is really important. as a former Obama campaigner, I am pretty disillusioned at the ability of any political figurehead – on any side of the aisle – to deliver on promises without a strong, strong policy oriented commitment on the part of concerned citizens.

  29. Any discussion about traditional politics and about candidates from left, right, or center of Wall Street makes me feel tired. It is so unproductive, it is a waste of time. A democratic process, an electoral system that depends on big money donations from corporations is flawed and not worth taking part in it.

    We better build our own small local democratic or meritocratic or whatever systems and cut the ties to big politics = big money as far as possible. Maybe we can starve them to death in the long run.

  30. Vidor, for a well-reasoned response to each point in your comment, please enjoy the article above your comment.

  31. Pollitt is right and you are wrong. Greenwald is deeply disingenuous, and all his “I don’t support Ron Paul, really!” disclaimers would be more convincing if they were not buried in column after column after column about how Barack Obama is History’s Greatest Monster and Paul is a billion times better than Obama on all the issues that Greenwald cares about.

    Actually that last thing, Greenwald’s narrow worldview (and yours) explains the Paul infatuation. Paul is better than Obama on a couple of particularly narrow fronts. But those things are the only things that Paul acolytes like you and Greenwald have any interest in. Therefore you tear your hair out wondering why other liberals and progressives aren’t hopping on the Paul train (and Greenwald is clearly on the Paul train, despite his disingenuous denials). The difference between folks like Greenwald and the rest of us is that the rest of us are able to assess Paul’s worldview as a whole and figure out that on about 95% of the issues that are important to most liberals, Paul is horrendously awful, and certainly light-years worse than Barack Obama.

    So that’s why the “conversation” that you, Greenwald, and other Paul fanboys and fangirls want to have isn’t happening; we think Ron Paul is a disaster. And the “conversation” isn’t necessary, because really, WE KNOW WHAT YOU THINK. We are fully aware of your POV and your swooning admiration of Ron Paul. God knows that Greenwald has destroyed enough keyboards by pounding out millions of words of copy on how Paul is great, Paul is awesome, Paul has all these superduper ideas that are so much better than that fascist monster Barack Obama (but he isn’t supporting Ron Paul, honest!).

    1. Vidor, thank you for providing a visceral, tangible example of the what the column declaims. Your ad hominem attacks were not in vain!

      1. You’re welcome! I’m here for you!

        By the way, what do we mainstream liberals have to do to get Ron Paul fans to stop bugging us about Ron Paul? If we run an ad in the New York Times–“Ron Paul is right about X, Y, and Z. Love, Mainstream Liberals.”–will that be enough?

      2. Openly critiquing Obama and organizing for candidates (inside and outside the Democratic Party) that are right on the issues that Obama is wrong on as well as right on the issues that Paul is wrong on would be a really good start. Generally speaking, mainstream “liberals” need to stop being afraid of critiquing Obama for the things that he’s wrong on in the name of not damaging his elect-ability.

        We don’t need to worry about the Left supporting Ron Paul; we need to worry about the Left ignoring the issues that Paul raises because they damage Obama’s credibility.

    2. If Ron Paul is a nutjob (and I agree he is), then why does he have to be the one to carry the torch for some ideas which – not only is Obama clearly wrong on, but so is the entire two-party establishment and much of their stenographers in the media? THAT is the crux of the problem. It’s not a comparison of Obama and Paul, but a consideration of getting key issues and views into the general conversation. If the drug war has been poisonous and wrong – for whatever reason – then where is that championing? Why is crazy uncle ron the only guy who can make a point out of Iran Contra or the Drug War?

      It’s not about Paul’s brilliance – there is none – so much as the Democrats total unwillingness to champion issues that are pretty clearly true.

    3. You obviously are not a regular reader of Glen Greenwald. Anybody reading your reply should consider that before giving much merit to your comments.

    4. One big thing to keep in mind about Greenwald is that he was just as resolute in attacking the erosion of our rights under Bush.

      Up through mid-2009 I believed anyone was better than Bush but it became clear extremely quickly that even in those six months things were deteriorating quickly. Obama had already come out in favor of preventative, administrative detention, expanded use of state secrets privilege beyond what Bush had done (to the point the EFF, fighting warrantless wiretapping since the Bush years, called Obama “worse than Bush” in April of 2009), and more. We did not get the civil libertarian we voted for. That betrayal is deep.

      I support Greenwald’s call to try to use Paul to change the debate, but I will tell you this— it is unlikely to matter who the Republicans nominate to run against Obama, Gary Johnson will be getting my vote. The time has come to realize it no longer really matters who we vote for. For without the right to due process, which is the right to go to court to vindicate all other rights before you are fined, imprisoned, or even killed, there simply aren’t any other rights. Sacrificing something like due process rights in favor of abortion means that whatever near-term victories may be won, long-term it is no real legal right but instead left up to the discretion of our leaders.

  32. As a lefty who may not vote for Obama (I’m not sure my mouth is large enough to contain the vomit that would arise) for ALL the reasons you have mentioned and the murder (if I did the same they would charge me with this) of an American Citizen without any hint of “due process” thank you for this article. Also, thanks to my Democratic friends for putting me in this position … a moral dilemma unlike any other I’ve had to face. All I can tell you is it would be a mistake to take my vote for granted.
    “If you are not pissed off you haven’t been paying attention” – Molly Ivins

    1. Greenwald and this writer are merely stating that indefinite detention and murder of our own citizens without due process are not minor issues. We all wish that Paul, the only one questioning such actions, were not a racist, bigoted fanatic.

  33. You suggest that we stop reading The Nation earlier than March this year owing to, I infer, the obnoxious rationalizations of Obama’s crimes that will fill its editorial pages (including Pollitt’s columns) up to the election. Despite its many outstanding articles, I suggest that the problem started before the last presidential election and has continued ever since. For four years, we have witnessed at The Nation intellectually feeble attempts at defending its man. If its editors had to write something critical, they often distracted from, diluted, and otherwise qualified it by mentioning the Bush legacy in the same breath. They were blind to their own double standards. Or they were cynical. Like you, I disliked Obama even before the 2008 election. In a very short letter to The Nation in 2008, which it printed, I outlined some of the same concerns you review in this column. Not for style, not for length, the editors, however, deleted my very last sentence, one in which I suggested there were alternatives to voting for either Obama or Bush. In other words, they censored my letter; one might criticize the man, but not commit heresy by rejecting the one they have anointed. The problem at The Nation—its hypocrisy—is not seasonal, as you suggest, but rather perennial.
    Thanks for your piece,
    Michael

    1. When I write about an alternative to voting for either a Democratic or Republican candidate above, I, in the context of the 2008 election, meant to say there were alternatives to voting for either Obama or McCain.

  34. I agree completely that Obama has been a disaster for our civil rights. He has been a disaster, period. Progressives are silent, unwilling to criticize or to compromise Obama, because the GOP has gone theocratic. It’s really as simple as that.

    Paul, who is the only one standing up for what civil rights we have left, happens to be a racist, homophobic, Ayn Randist maniac who sounds like a member of Stormfront.

    The tragedy is that, as Greenwald said, Paul had to be the one to start the discussion on our civil rights, and on our disastrous, suicidal, and cruel foreign policy, and sully it with his Randism and bigotry.

    We are in a decline. Disasters snowball in declines. I believe that what we have here is one of those unpredictable and unwholesome things that happen in declines. It’s all very sad.

    1. If you’re going to call someone a racist and a homophobe, back it up. Also, what’s so wrong with Rand?

  35. It is very sickening to read so called “leftists” say they are unwilling to have the conversation about anti-war and anti-imperialism because the person who is bring it up is doing it for the “wrong reasons”. Does the reason truly have to be within the narrative of the democratic orthodoxy for it to count? Do you even need to have a good reason to be anti-war and anti-imperialism to begin with? I always thought being against both was reason enough. Apparently not.

    Politics these days is simply cults of personality. If the party isn’t discussing it, then these “leftists” feel that the issue isn’t worth discussing either. Pathetic!

    1. They’re just being disingenuous. They simply do not want to discuss these issues for any reason.

      Note that last August, when the California Democratic party’s progressive caucus recommended a primary challenge to Obama from the left, the party suspended the progressive caucus’s membership and threatened it with expulsion. One of the biggest defenders of that complete abrogation of democracy was Hullabaloo’s David Atkins, who is currently leading the pile-on against Greenwald.

  36. Thank you for using logic and reason, rather than fearmongering, to make your (excellent) points.

    Support for Ron Paul’s peace and liberty positions is NOT the same as support for his candidacy. Pointing out that Ron Paul is the only prominent political figure who is anti-war and pro-civil liberties is a vital critique of the left, NOT an endorsement of Ron Paul’s views on issues other than peace and liberty.

  37. I agree. I’m pretty miserable about politics and my choices in the voting booth– I participate in OWS as much as I can, and try to be an ally to people who don’t have the same privileges as I do (loud, white, middle-aged stay-at-home cit Mom. The mic check is my favorite thing ever– now I’m not “giving voice to the voiceless” (twitch), I’m repeating/shouting what ppl who are already shouting are saying, so people further physically/ideologically away can hear).

    I’m sorry that identity politics *is* an issue in this country. It certainly is in my head. Ron Paul makes me uncomfortable for all sorts of reasons, but when he says anti-War things it is a breath of fresh air.

    It’s helpful when other people speak out and ask questions who *are* different from me, because I question myself and my uterus and my imperfect ally-ness.

    Thanks for reminding me that I can like that Paul is anti-War while still having real and deal-breaking problems with… well, just about everything else. :*)

    Cheers,
    alia

  38. Hear hear! as regards the Chancery comment above.

    The “left” — to the extent there is one in the U.S. — pays a high price for its broad commitment to group-identity politics: group-think. It is in some ways more broadly authoritarian and insistent upon orthodoxy than the right.

    This is a perfect example. Even the article above begins with the usual dance of who-is-in-more-violation-of-the-pieties-of-political correctness. In other words, the usual gotcha! moment of “you are a bigot” because your linguistic shorthand exposes you as such.

    What is most amusing about the recent deluge that began with Greenwald’s self-defense piece is that the handwringing and hair-splitting has come in its wake is perfectly reflective of the endless navel-gazing (and general impotence) of the “Left”. It is just another example of what we have seen for decades from the “Left” in the U.S. — the failure to bring about anything politically, any “action”. What it produces is only more endless introspection.

    Corey Robin’s question: “Why isn’t there a progressive answer to Ron Paul?” could be more broadly and more accurately reformulated: “Why isn’t there a principled progressive candidate?”

    Well, there have been a few. Nader, Kucinich. But their weak following (and their decimation by the mainstream Democratic Party establishment) demonstrates what is obvious to any half-aware observer: the “Left” in the U.S. is not a political movement so much as a sub-culture organized by political themes. The latte-drinking, small-glasses-wearing, NPR-listening “progressive” stereotype has more than a kernel of truth.

    Is there an answer? Not really. The progressive movement seems to have only a single concept in its repertoire: social justice. Ron Paul has a following because there are people who presently see the police state-style excesses of our system and see in them a symptom of a *structural* problem with the system. They connect these excesses with a concrete American tradition of thought (however much ignored) of past warnings about tyranny, warnings to the effect that you cannot have a republic at home and an empire abroad. This is infinitely more sophisticated as a diagnosis and as a blueprint for a remedy than the “you shouldn’t indefinitely detain because it’s wrong, it’s against human rights!” that comes out of the progressive camp.

    So rather than piously assert that Ron Paul is right about a few things but wrong overall because he is not a progressive, the American Left might consider the harder question: why is it so bereft of substance?

    1. Brilliantly said, Horace.

      Can we prioritize people? War, banker bailouts and basic civil liberties are the most pressing issues of the day. Paul is great on all three.

    2. Excellent analysis horacesmiley. The Left in this country IS bereft of substance.

      Oh but they do have a response ready: If you challenge their candidate — and their unity — you’re a FIREBAGGER! Unfortunately, that constitutes also the extent of their analysis.

      Ok, maybe too broad a brush. But this reaction is dismayingly common.

      1. Those who stand up for Barack Obama are not “leftists” by any definition I know. And they are “progressive” only when compared with the trogdolytes in the Republican party.

    3. I’m confused: Is the left a bunch of purists who demand political correctness of their representatives? Or are they impotent “latte-drinking, small-glasses-wearing, NPR-listenin[er]…” who can only engage in “endless introspection.”

  39. Absolutely stunning that you can’t see the irony of being so extremely anti-war and anti-violence, yet you support – and indeed seem to indicate you want taxpayers to pay for – the violent murder of our innocent unborn.

    1. I won’t presume to speak for the author, but your reasoning lacks any force unless one accepts the (absurd, in my opinion) claim that “human life begins at conception.”

      To me it seems blindingly obvious that a fetus which has yet to develop higher brain function is no more a human being than is a brain-dead body on life support. Thus it is no more “murder” to abort a fetus (at least prior to approximately week 25) than it is “murder” to withdraw life support from a brain-dead body that was once a living human being.

      1. First, I think that where human life begins is a cultural, not a biological question. There are no bright lines that really make sense. This means that while I am firmly pro-abortion-rights, I don’t see abortion as different in kind from infanticide except that we draw different arbitrary lines……

  40. Wow, that is a very powerful message. Just one minor correction, there are a few progressive candidates out there that may begin to make a splash but you are right the media is entirely focused on this false neo-libral dichotomy leaving the anti-war message to the un-progressive libertarian. If you would like check-out my proposals for rebuilding our economy along a more progressive-environmentally fashioned program without the continuation of war and bloodshed. Here is the link for my proposal: http://www.scribd.com/doc/75296147/Ending-the-American-Winter-Ver-2-0. Also, you can find my registered on Americans Elect as a candidate for US President 2012. Thus far, the only progressive with an honest chance of making it to the national election in November. You can find my website at: http://www.mikeballantine2012.org.

    1. I think the human rights questions being brought up should be a concern to all Americans (or let’s make it broader – all himan beings!!). It doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to see all of the death and destruction and blighted lives being wrought in our names by this administration. And I agree the silence of “mainstream” Democrats on these issues is deafening

  41. That’s why the American Left is so feckless. People like Pollit are cowardly and shallow and alienating. They fear and loathe everyone who isn’t exactly like themselves.

    1. I can’t speak for others but, to me, her generalization of the concerns of minorities is something I’d expect from a right-winger (not surprising since I find a lot of Obama-apologists are closeted right-wingers).

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