(Swans - February 13, 2012) If you are a believer in Ron Paul's Libertarian ideology, then voting for him is an obvious right choice. Why would anyone else vote for Ron Paul?
Because Ron Paul has been consistently opposed to America's wars, most recently in Afghanistan (ongoing) and Iraq and Libya (both done), and because Ron Paul is against prohibitions on recreational drug use and its criminalization, many leftists and/or progressives and/or social democrats and liberal Democrats have stated they would consider voting for Ron Paul if he is a candidate for president in the November 2012 election. From a leftist perspective, this is a stupid idea because it will only set back the leftist agenda, however you choose to define it. (1)
Ron Paul's Libertarian ideology is extremely popular in the United States, and it boils down to one simple principle: "I don't want to pay for anybody else." We can show the full scope of the ideology as in sequence of four syllogisms: (2)
Syllogism 1: Wealth-Satisfaction vs. Taxes
1. Wealth increases my satisfaction.
2. Taxes decrease my wealth.
3. Taxes decrease my satisfaction.
Syllogism 2: Taxes-Subsidies vs. Wealth
1. Taxes decrease my wealth.
2. Subsidies increase my taxes.
3. Subsidies decrease my wealth.
Syllogism 3: Wealth-Satisfaction vs. Subsidies
1. Eliminating subsidies decreases my taxes.
2. Decreasing my taxes increases my wealth, and equivalently my satisfaction.
3. Eliminating subsidies increases my wealth, and equivalently my satisfaction.
Libertarians will usually concede the need for some minimal government, and thus some minimal taxes, in order to provide for basic infrastructure (e.g., roads, bridges) and protective services (e.g., police, fire extinguishing, and ambulance services). However, they will see any benefit whose cost is socialized through taxation as a subsidy, which by definition diminishes their satisfaction in life.
Conversely, eliminating subsidies increases a Libertarian's satisfaction in life. It does not matter if the subsidy is for a useless fleet of flawed military airplanes, (3) or for the expenses of medical emergency treatment of people without corporate insurance policies (See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irx_QXsJiao), or "welfare," or anything. "I don't want to pay for other people's children/problems/mistakes."
The last conceptual element in the Paulist Libertarian view is "freedom," also called "responsibility," which is actually a secondary image of the root principle.
Syllogism 4: Government-Taxes vs. Freedom
1. Reducing my taxes weakens government.
2. Weakening government increases freedom.
3. Reducing my taxes increases freedom.
"I believe in maximizing freedom, because it means we are minimizing my taxes."
Ron Paul is consistent in his diagnosis of the national health on the basis of his Libertarian ideology, and in describing his prescription for how to conduct national affairs: Maximize personal freedom and personal responsibility, such as ending drug prohibitions and the Drug War; and eliminate every subsidy possible, from wars to foreign military bases to socialized benefits, because these withdrawals of government from social management and social investment will commensurately increase my wealth-satisfaction by decreasing my taxes. "I don't want to pay for a society beyond what I need to enjoy what I can maximally get."
For some leftists, the prospect of being able to smoke dope on their front stoops, back porches, and in their clubs in a laissez-faire America that has dried up its subsidies, terminated its wars, and repatriated its foreign legions is a good enough possible future, compared to what Obama would do, to vote Republican (or Libertarian third party). One has to wonder if anticipatory euphoria alone, unaided by hallucinogens, could actually transport a healthy leftist mind to this conclusion.
There are three questions to consider: Will Ron Paul emerge as one of the two leading candidates in November? If elected, could Ron Paul implement his program? How else could leftists vote to advance social democracy in the United States?
The election in November 2012 will be the coda to the negotiations that are in progress now and will be completed by 27 August 2012, the beginning of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. The stakeholders in US governance (the Citizen's United Bunch, you might say) will have arrived at their consensus on the two men, either of whom would satisfactorily fill the office of president; the man who displays the greater facility at directing national public attention during the summer and fall will be awarded the office.
Though popular, Ron Paul is completely disfavored by the stakeholders because he would try to prevent all the pork barrel trysts that bind Congress and capitalists in the embraces of ambition with avarice, destroying a lucrative influence peddling trade, the dealings with lobbyists that bring in all the moolah for "campaigns," and opens up so much business opportunity for the private sector and brings earmarks for the folks back home. In other words, Ron Paul would try to wreck the American modus operandi.
We can be assured that the stakeholders will invest whatever is needed to ensure their two candidates mount proper campaigns for public attention, and that any unauthorized campaign by a recalcitrant populist challenger, perhaps a Ron Paul in a third-party run, is derailed. In the 2008 US congressional elections, the candidate with the most money won in 93% (House) to 94% (Senate) of the races; Barack Obama had a two-to-one advantage in money over John McCain. In the U.S., money wins (buys?) elections. Sad.
So, as Ron Paul does not represent the interests of the stakeholders, he will not find the resources he needs to become one of the two leading presidential candidates; popularity is irrelevant.
By a similar reasoning, we can see that if by some miracle Ron Paul were elected president, he would be hamstrung from the start, by most of the Democrats and Republicans in the government, from attempting to implement any of the significant items in the Paulist Libertarian agenda. Ron Paul, like any Republican, would be able to roll back some government spending that did not have powerful and well-connected defenders. But the vast Pentagon-corporate-America pork barrel orgy would carry on with hardly a pause; both Medicare and Social Security would be too heavily defended from every corner of popular America to easily destroy by privatizing, especially after the 2008 economic crash; and AIPAC would start a nuclear war to protect the Israel subsidy, which would survive by virtue of the de facto "money wins" rule.
If the "wrong guy," like a Ron Paul, were to get into the presidency, the stakeholders would erect a cordon sanitaire of protective political influence around him to both isolate the infection from the body politic, and to moderate and attenuate the actions the wrong guy would still be able to take, to produce outcomes acceptable to the stakeholders. This same argument can be made about Ralph Nader as the wrong-guy president. In either case, the larger and more passionate the popular support for a wrong-guy president, the greater his room to maneuver once in office; and presumably any wrong guy swept in by overwhelming popular demand would also be accompanied by ideological comrades displacing many incumbent legislators. Ron Paul's popularity is not of such grand revolutionary proportion; his wrong-guy presidential insurgency would be squelched.
So, a totally improbable Ron Paul presidency would see laissez-faire policy stripping off what was left of social democracy from the edges and neglected corners of the American enterprise, but unable to alter the corporate-congressional-military-oil-Israel-banking-etcetera tumor that functions as the national stomach to which all else are enabling mouth parts, as on a crab, scooping in the world's bounty. Spliffs in a land without war is a pipe dream. Leftist hope for Ron Paul is delusional; it is the continuing chase after Obamaian "change" in one of the unlikeliest places one should expect to find it, perhaps sought there because the bitter disillusionment with the real Obama has so darkened the formerly brightly hopeful cortical folds of trusting leftists.
The fallacy of leftists voting for Ron Paul is the idea of voting a negation, voting to prevent or avoid something, in this case mainstream Republicanism as most competently practiced by Barack Obama and more dreadfully anticipated from a Romney-Santorum ticket. The conflict-free alternative is to vote affirmatively, to vote to affirm or promote something, that is to say to increase the popularity and support for a party whose candidates and platform represent the political philosophy you believe in. Voting a negation is also known as voting for the lesser evil; voting for something you don't actually want, because you think it will spoil the chances of a worse alternative gaining electoral approval.
I'd rather vote for something I want and not get it, than vote for something I don't want, and get it.
—Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926)
As a leftist you can vote affirmatively for the Green Party, or another party in whose platform you believe. When any of the many "third parties" gains 5% or more of the popular vote during a presidential election, it gains campaign matching funds from the Federal Elections Commission (if it agrees to abide by certain funding rules) for the following presidential election. The only way most Americans can act to shift American politics toward a parliamentary system from the present Democratic-Republican duopoly is to stop voting for that duopoly, and affirm themselves in parties that authentically represent their beliefs.
Once committed to promoting your ideology, you relinquish any claim on who other parties nominate and which of the big two happens to be in control at the moment. If the only way to be a Democrat is to stop being a leftist and vote for a de facto moderate Republican called Obama; or the best option you as a disillusioned leftist Democrat see is to flirt with voting for a rabid Libertarian Republican because he hates to pay for imperial wars and drug prohibition, then you really should question what you actually believe in.
Once you conclude that the Democrats and the Republicans are functionally alike because they are each agents of the Citizen's United Bunch, and that the CUB will run the government for quite some time to come, even as it alternately flashes Democratic or Republican colors during its reign, you can achieve ideological consistency by either converting to orthodox Democratic or Republican beliefs and maintaining strict party loyalty "to play the game," or you can find a party that is consistent with the beliefs you wish to maintain, and you support its growth and the advance of its agenda -- and feel good about it.
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About the Author
Manuel García, Jr. on Swans. He is a native of the upper upper west side barrio of the 1950s near Riverside Park in Manhattan, New York City, and a graduate engineering physicist who specialized in the physics of fluids and electricity. He retired from a 29 year career as an experimental physicist with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the first fifteen years of which were spent in underground nuclear testing. An avid reader with a taste for classics, and interested in the physics of nature and how natural phenomena can impact human activity, he has long been interested in non-fiction writing with a problem-solving purpose. García loves music and studies it, and his non-technical thinking is heavily influenced by Buddhist and Jungian ideas. A father of both grown children and a school-age daughter, today García occupies himself primarily with managing his household and his young daughter's many educational activities. García's political writings are left wing and, along with his essays on science-and-society, they have appeared in a number of smaller Internet magazines since 2003, including Swans. Please visit his personal Blog at manuelgarciajr.wordpress.com. (back)
3. The F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft is fatally flawed (7 major crashes and 2 deaths; autonomously cuts off a pilot's oxygen, no fix yet), overpriced (expected fleet cost is $77B, at $412M each for 188 planes), underperforming (still on test-flight only status), not ready for combat (in service since 2005), and a totally unnecessary "air superiority fighter." (back)