Yesterday, I wrote an article, Endorsing Ron Paul, and Why Progressive Dems Should Support Ron Paul . (This was specifically referring to the Republican presidential primary NOT for president.) Some friends and readers challenged me on this. After I posted the article to dailykos.com, over 100 Kos readers treated me to the most horrific day of insults and name calling I ever experienced in my life. Here, I try to explain my rationale for the endorsement and call for support for Ron Paul, in a broader framework. And I offer a mea culpa... again (sigh.)
As a progressive, I want the most progressive candidate possible to win the presidency.
As right wing republicans, I assume people like Karl Rove and Grover Norquist want the most anti-tax, anti government right wingers to win.
We know that the right wing strategists consider which Democratic opponents they would prefer to run against. We can be fairly certain that they look at all the potential Democratic candidates and evaluate them in terms of their effects upon the other democratic candidates in terms of the issues the enliven and energize, their strengths and vulnerabilities and possibly, the ways they wake up and energize potential right wing voters. At least it makes sense to consider that they would think about these things.
I'm pretty sure that many on the right are drooling over the idea that Hillary will be the democratic candidate. The mainstream media has hundreds of millions in old, already paid for footage of Hillary. The Bush admin has had seven years to mine the records of the whitehouse to get the goods on her.
But what about Obama or Edwards? Do you think the RNC strategists have been gearing up in preparation for running against either of these? I do. If I were them, I'd be attempting to explore the ways each candidate would affect the big horse race. I'd also want to think about how losing primary candidates would affect the race. Where will Tancredo's thimble-full of supporters go? How about Romney's? Will these candidates have the ability to influence the supporters, so, if they lose, they can direct the supporters to one particular campaign?
Are these kinds of questions ones that Democratic strategists are asking? I hope so.
Yesterday, I found a link on the drudgereport to a recording of a video originally broadcast on Fox News, about a prostitute house that is "pimping for Paul." Clearly, this was an effort by Fox to hurt Ron Paul's campaign by showing that immoral people support him and that he accepts the support.
It raises an interesting question. How do unsolicitied endorsements by not-the-ordinary kind of endorser affect campaigns.
It was in the spirit of being a strategist that I endorsed Ron Paul for the Republican Primary yesterday. I thought I made it clear that I was only saying that he was the best of the Republican crop, not my choice for president. I thought I made it clear that I would be supporting one of several Democratic candidates. But some readers took my endorsement as a direct endorsement of Ron Paul for the presidency. I must confess, I chose to endorse Paul, rather than simply discuss a strategy addressing the Paul supporters. I took a risk there. Here on OpEdNEws, one reader unsubscribed because of it and at least several regular members of the OpEdNEws community scratched their heads and wondered what I'd put in my egg nog that day. On the dailykos site, the reaction was harsh and horrific, and frankly upsetting. But after an exchange of emails with Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, it's owner, I apologized. Fact is, as he pointed out, I could have gotten my ideas across without the tabloid headline. I don't think that excuses the incredibly nasty comments that were posted. But it does explain the reception I got. I still feel that the comments that showed up on my posting are an embarassment to progressives. And I include the angry replies I made too.
So, I pushed too far in my title. The fact is, I was trying to point out that it seemed to me, strategically, that Ron Paul supporters who like his anti war and pro habeus corpus positions would be more like to switch to a democrat than to a republican, if Paul did not win the Republican primaries. I also felt and still do feel that if Paul wins, he'll force the Democratic candidate to differentiate his or her self on the issues. I could have said all that without the incendiary title.
I just want to make it clear, since I clearly didn't in my first article, that there is this whole libertarian side of Ron Paul that I find totally unacceptable. I'm a firm believer in supporting the commons-- that government run education, police, army, road building, environmental protection, energy production, management of resources can be a very good thing. This is diametrically opposed to Paul's point of view.
And there are reports that he is an anti-semite, and I know that with him being anti-abortion, he is anti women's rights. I could never vote for Ron Paul.
But, thinking strategically, I can encourage my republican friends and relatives to consider him. I can even say that he is preferable to his Republican primary opponents.
I think this is where I get into trouble with many progressives. To many progressives, considering the "best" republican primary candidate is kind of like digging around in a garbage dump to find the best garbage. But hey, don't forget recyclables.
Seriously though, many people wrote to me saying that they don't want to waste their time considering which Republican is better or worse. I can't blame them, in terms of their own choice of how to be engaged in politics.
But at the same time, I believe that strategic benefit for the left can be had if there are some ways to influence the Republican primary race, to affect the conversation, the prioritization of the issues, the moment-to-moment flow of the polling stats, or even, the results in primary elections.
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