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.