‘Hell’ in Iowa
Thank you for the editorial “Electoral Dysfunction, 2012” [Jan. 23]. Its only problem is that it’s an understatement of how dysfunctional Iowa’s GOP caucus was this time around. The Christian right made Iowa a figurative hell for any moderate snowball. For many of us, when Robert Vander Plaats, a religious-right leader, boasted in a TV ad that Rick Santorum “is one of us,” it was a condemnation, not an endorsement.
Be Careful Who You Sleep With
We received much mail on Katha Pollitt’s January 23 “Subject to Debate” column, “Ron Paul’s Strange Bedfellows,” all of it from men. Herewith, a sample. —The Editors
Katha Pollitt gives a good reminder that Ron Paul’s views on many critical issues are terrible and quite dangerous. However, she insults our intelligence first by suggesting that anyone (referring only to men) who sees any value in Paul’s stances has a “progressive mancrush.” Beyond that nasty insult she then lumps together and defines anyone who suggests Paul’s views might be worth listening to as “supporting” him. The issue is far more serious and far more challenging.
One does not have to be a “supporter” of Ron Paul to recognize that he alone among the corporate candidates has been consistently calling for an end to foreign wars. It can be argued that any chance that we could end our invasions of other countries opens lots of possibilities for hope. Ending wars opens up possibilities for a fair and “progressive” society.
Paul is not my candidate of choice (neither is Obama). But I like the idea of peace and the incredible opportunities that presents. And that’s the discussion we should be having. Imagine.
Katha Pollitt is too harsh. Paul’s extreme libertarianism is, indeed, antithetical to constitutional general welfare. But putting those “mancrushers” in the same boat as Paul Ryan’s swooning pundits slights some things of value in Paul’s candidacy. Paul’s candidacy provides teachable moments. One such is that our Constitution so parsed power that the presidency alone is nearly devoid of it. “Socialist,” “Muslim” Obama couldn’t even close Gitmo, much less convert anybody to Islam or put private means of production under government ownership. But maybe a Paul presidency could delay or lessen US military aggression against Iran.
Our government’s aggressive wars of choice are a greater evil than the economic exploitation of Americans by our ruling class. Paul’s campaign at least spotlights anti-imperialist themes and the importance of the Federal Reserve as America’s credit mis-allocator. Thus it gives progressives an opportunity to start discussing these.
It’s a male thing… Katha Pollitt’s smart-alecky quip “if there are leftish white women and people of color who admire Paul, they’re keeping pretty quiet” is flatly refuted by Rachel Maddow, who demonstrated respect, if not admiration, by recognizing him as the only Republican candidate to refuse the dictation of US Middle East policy by Israel.
Curiously, Pollitt goes out of her way to degrade Ron Paul (“leftist mancrush” indeed). Why? She knows, but cannot look directly at the thing. And that would be what the young 20+ males, progressives and others, see in the man. He’s the only one who doesn’t act like he’s been shafted. Getting it now? It’s a male thing. This is beyond progressive–conservative. It is about testosterone. There is something clean about the way Ron Paul leaves one feeling about himself.
As Katha Pollitt points out, fawning over Ron Paul has become de rigueur among some prominent liberals—all, white males. I remind these shortsighted progressives that Ron Paul’s views on most policies closely parallel those of a past president. Like Ron Paul, that president disapproved of the income tax and almost all government regulations. Like Paul, he was an isolationist who wanted to slash military spending. Like Ron Paul, that president was a bigot and he wanted immigration skewed to favor the entry of people from Northern and Western European nations.
Unfortunately, that president had a like-minded Congress during his tenure. Their isolationist and unbridled laissez-faire policies resulted in economic collapse and the unchecked rise of imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, paving the way for the Great Depression and World War II.
To those liberals and all thinking people who embrace Ron Paul, I pose this question: Considering how Calvin Coolidge’s presidency worked out, do you really want another Coolidge presidency?
JEFFREY H. SPIEGLER
Katha Pollitt is bewildered by some progressives’ stance on Ron Paul. But Paul is the only candidate to raise issues important to progressives. And Ron Paul is not going to win. Since Democrats are giving their base no choice in many primaries, progressive Democrats should register Republican and vote for Paul. His presence will keep the issue of war on the table, a constant irritant to the Republican establishment and the corporate media alike. Voting strategically in the primary in no way implies an embrace of Ron Paul. But when the general election arrives, don’t expect me to vote for the lesser of two evils. Evil is evil. Obama decided to stiff his base. So I’ve decided to vote my conscience—for a third party.
I think it is important to point out all the faults of Ron Paul. What I don’t understand is the failure to point out the salient fact that he is the only anti-imperialist running for president in the two major parties. All things being balanced, he is, for me, preferable to Obama.
JOSEPH E. MORROW
My grandfather Wendell Willkie in his 1940 campaign had the support of anti-Semites Father Charles Coughlin, Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh. After the election he was America’s loudest advocate for accepting Jewish refugees. Yes, political campaigns create strange bedfellows.
Many progressives agree with Ron Paul’s positions on war and repealing the Patriot Act. Democrats controlled the Senate in 2001 when they passed the Patriot Act without a public hearing. Only Russ Feingold had the courage to oppose this act, the greatest threat to civil liberties in 200 years.
Obama renewed the Patriot Act, tripled our troop size in Afghanistan and started a military action in Libya without Congressional consent. Few Democrats, with the exception of Dennis Kucinich, had the courage to speak against it. Ron Paul spoke out against all these monstrous decisions. Many libertarian views are dead ends. But why shouldn’t progressives stand with Ron Paul when his positions are right rather than stand with Obama when he is wrong?