The Pauls: Better Than the Democrats

John Nichols at The Nation points out where the Democrats should take a page from the Ron Paul playbook:

those who would like to see the Democratic Party stand for something other than a soft variation on Republicanism might want to take a few cues—no, not all their cues, just a few—from Ron Paul.

In his CPAC speech, Paul hailed the failure of the US House to renew the Patriot Act. But he did not stop there. He declared: “The Patriot Act, as we know, has nothing to do with patriotism—they always name it opposite of what it is. The Patriot Act is the destruction of the Fourth Amendment. That’s what it’s all about!”

Paul celebrated the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. But he did not stop there. He declared: “How much did we invest in that dictator of the past thirty years?” he asked. “Seventy billion dollars we invested in Egypt, and guess what, the government is crumbling, the people are upset, not only with their government, but they’re upset with us for propping up that public dictator for all those years..."

Paul decried the folly of the US occupation of Afghanistan. But he did not stop there. He declared: “It makes no sense for us to think that we can keep troops in 135 countries, 900 bases, and think that we can do it forever… It’s time to reassess that foreign policy. It’s for us time to bring troops home....”

Paul criticized bloated Pentagon spending, But he did not stop there. He declared: “I’m sure half the people in this room won’t cut one penny out of the military. And the military is not equated to defense. Defense spending is one thing, military spending is what Eisenhower called the military industrial complex, and we have to go after that!”

Paul condemned bailouts of big banks and corporations. But he did not stop there. He declared: “Guess who does the bailing out? The Federal Reserve used $4 billion dollars to pass out without Congressional approval. Most people say: ‘That’s the Federal Reserve’s job to do that.’ No, it is our job to check up and find what the Federal Reserve has done, audit them and find who their buddies are that they’re taking care of.”

Nichols makes sure you know he does support government spending money on all those good things he and his audience like, so you know he's not one of them there libertarians. But still:

But Paul’s willingness to defend civil liberties without apology, to criticize dictators and the US policies that support them, to call for bringing troops home, to attack the military-industrial complex and to condemn bank bailouts and crony capitalism is not just on target. It’s compelling.

If Democrats are interested in identifying themselves as anything more potent than a kinder, gentler variation on mainstream Republicanism, if they recognize that drab managerialism does not excite the American people, if they want not only to win elections but to make those wins mean something, they should borrow the best lines from Ron Paul’s text.

Yes they should, but because those are all the policies of their own president and party that Paul rightly objects to, no they won't.

At the Atlantic, Chris Good points out the new senatorial pointman against Patriot Act renewal is no longer the departed Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, but son of Ron, Rand Paul:

Six days ago, Paul released a web video outlining his constitutional opposition to the entire law....Paul is the only senator publicly advocating this stance.

Several options are floating around the Senate: extend all the expiring provisions until December, as called for by a bill that passed the House last night; extend them until 2013, as Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wants to do; extend them until 2013 but require Justice Department audits and sunset the provision for National Security Letter subpoenas, as Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is calling for; or extend all the provisions permanently, as Republican Senate leaders want to do. No other senator has made a point of rejecting all these options and opposing any extension of these PATRIOT Act provisions--much less calling for the entire law to be revisited.

I blogged yesterday on Rand Paul's laudable Patriot Act opposition.

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  • RyanXXX||

    Does Nichols not realize the Democrats are bought and paid for?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Considering The Nation's apologias for the TSA, their opposition to the Patriot Act is laughable.

  • ||

    A 3 month extention was just passed in the Senate: http://www.senate.gov/legislat.....vote=00019

    Only 12 voted against it: NAYs ---12
    Baucus (D-MT)
    Begich (D-AK)
    Brown (D-OH)
    Harkin (D-IA)
    Lautenberg (D-NJ)
    Lee (R-UT)
    Merkley (D-OR)
    Murray (D-WA)
    Paul (R-KY)
    Sanders (I-VT)
    Tester (D-MT)
    Udall (D-NM)

  • The Thinking Man's NASCAR||

    Well, good on them all.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    I do not like having to give Sanders credit...

  • ||

    I don't *think* I see any names on there of the people who were voting against short extensions because they wanted a longer extension, but I know some of that happened in the House.

  • ||

    Can we put targets on a map indicating all the senators that voted yes on the extension and are up for election in 2012?

    If not how about Skulls and cross bones?

    Mushroom clouds?

  • Pedant||

    So why the fuck didn't Rand Paul put a hold on the bill? Those provisions expire on February 28th, and with the Congress out next week he could have single-handedly ended those practices.

  • ||

    So why the fuck didn't Rand Paul put a hold on the bill?

    Holds don't work that way.

    The Senate Majority Leader can and will ignore requests to put a hold on a bill, particularly when the bill has a veto-proof majority. At it's most, a hold indicates an intent to filibuster. Rand did what he could in objecting to unanimous consent, but because of the expiration of the provisions, Leader Reid was intent on having the vote and all Rand could do was force the vote instead of allowing it to proceed by unanimous consent. There's a tradition of respecting all holds for nominees from the same state as a senator, but it is merely tradition.

    He could not have "single-handedly ended those practices" without the connivance of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

  • Colin||

    The interesting vote is Lee.

    Good for him.

  • ||

    This is why libertarianism is inherently cool at it's core, and progressivism is the philosophy of tools.

    Libertarianism is about freedom, and progressivism is about drab managerialism. What the hell do progressives talk about all day except drab discussions of how to manage ... the entire economy? How to craft the right regulations and bureaucratic structures.

    It's all, at a basic level, extremely lame. Libertarians are the ones who actually enjoy thwarting convention and breaking norms. Progressive just wear the clothes.

  • Random Dude||

    I was going to add something, but I really couldn't have said it better.

    Absolutely.

  • ||

    There's another element to this. Progressives have, for a very long time, told themselves that they are the cool, smart TEAM, and that the right was the stupid, square TEAM.

    That's an easy thing to tell yourself when you're comparing your cool level to Ralph Reed or Newt Gingrich. But when you have to compare yourself to people who actually stick by the civil liberties they advocate for, and bring a philosophy of live and let live, drug legalization, etc., your completely played out and completely not followed TEAM BLUE talking points are just as stodgy as the TEAM you pride yourself on being cooler than.

  • Dog's New Clothes||

    Dear The Nation,

    Have you considered that the reason the Democrats haven't been passionately decrying crony capitalism, endless war, and empire-building, is that Democrats, along with the Republicans, are actually in favor of crony capitalism, endless war, and empire-building?

    Sincerely,

    Dog's New Clothes xoxo

  • Bf||

    Ron Paul named his son after a closet welfare queen and published a racist newsletter for more than ten years. Do you libertarians really want to keep tooting his horn?

  • ||

    a closet welfare queen

    Unless every Obama voter voluntarily paid taxes at the higher non-Bush tax rate, this form of accusation ("how dare you take advantage of government programs") remains stupid.

  • Bf -- Gag Yourself||

    On Your Nobel War Pig Obama.

  • Pedant||

    Randall?

  • The Thinking Man's NASCAR||

    You'd think people would bother making sure they know someone's name before criticizing it. You would be wrong.

  • tarran||

    It's obviously short for Rand-uber-alles. If people would force Paul to release his original birth certificate... :-)

  • ||

    @BF He didn't write that letter!!. That is the only single thing you ever hear anyone dig up on the man. I voted for Obama in 08 and there is not way I'm voting for his Monsanto Goldman Sachs ways again. He has made his positions very clear.

  • Jim||

    Truly pathetic to only see one (R) up there.

  • Tyler||

    There is two, Lee from Utah... but its still pathetic.

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    I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often.

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  • SM||

    Hilarious...the same day Paul doesn't even stand up and block the patriot act extension by putting a hold on it...

    ...just another conservative. Hope you fools realize it now. Do you feel stupid for thinking he was different?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Hope you fools realize it now. Do you feel stupid for thinking he was different?

    Leave Obama out of this.

  • ||

    Hilarious...the same day Paul doesn't even stand up and block the patriot act extension by putting a hold on it...

    You're still a fool and a moron. Holds don't work that way, not when the Senate Majority Leader is intent on holding the vote. Holds are informal, not part of the actual Senate rules.

    Bad troll.

  • Draco||

    Ron Paul emotes, he doesn't do logic, and he therefore doesn't persuade. I watched his CPAC speech through the video on this site. He said, to take but one example, "Force never works." (referring to foreign policy).

    Now, I'm not a professional historian, but I am a very well read amateur historian with a specialty in military history, and I can list hundreds of examples throughout history where "force worked."

    Let's take one that's just mind-numbingly obvious: force destroyed the Imperial Japanese war machine and turned a fascist state that was a threat to all of Asia into a market-oriented provider of goods and services to most of the world whose people have enjoyed 65 years of peace and plenty.

    So, obviously, Ron Paul is wrong about this. Could it be that he's wrong about other things too? Like hard currency? In any case, being wrong on this one issue is enough to keep him out of the White House, since most Americans want their military to be the biggest, baddest dogs on the planet, and would prefer to be doling out the wallops rather than being on the receiving end of history.

  • John Gray||

    Ron Paul has both denounced racism and published a racist newsletter for political gain. He's a good enough politician to keep getting reelected. There's whiff of fanaticism about him, but when the chips are really down, he will do what he has to like any politician. He has all the charisma of a warthog. Libertarians need to find a new hero.

  • Mike in PA||

    I really think Nichols did Paul a huge favor by writing this article. There are many that read the Nation who think of Paul in terms of the caricature they've created of him. But if they read this article, they must be thinking that this Paul guy is saying a lot of the things we've been talking about.

    I'm not expecting them to jump on board, but at least it may confuse their understanding enough to take another look.

  • Matt||

    If there weren't a sitting Democrat in the WH, it wouldn't be a bad idea for Paul to switch parties, though I'm sure he wouldn't ever consider it.

    However, there have been small-government Democrats over the years (albeit a minority). There have even been anti-abortion Dems (FTR I'm pro-choice but I realize Paul is pro-life). But sadly there have been very few antiwar, pro-civil liberties Republicans since Nixon. The Robert Taft wing of the Republican party died out in the 50s/60s and it may be too difficult to fully resurrect despite Paul's valiant efforts. Plus the Dems often seem to have more divergent views than the Republicans (despite the GOP's claims to be a "big tent").

    Just throwing that out there...

  • ||

    Plus the Dems often seem to have more divergent views than the Republicans

    As evidenced by all the defections from the party line when they had large majorities in both houses, voting through things like PATRIOT Act extensions, ObamaCare, etc.

  • Nike Dunk Shoes||

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