Progressives who are considering a move from the Democratic Party in order to support Ron Paul are out of their blessed gourds. Ron Paul is not your friend, progressives, no matter how non-interventionist, plaintive and wide-eyed he appears to be.
For the next several months, Ron Paul will continue to be a spoiler in the Republican primary campaign, lobbing crazy bombs from the fringes of the far right wing of the party without any chance whatsoever of actually winning the nomination, and even less of a shot at winning the White House in November.
But it doesn't matter because winning isn't his goal, regardless of the idealistic daydreaming of his most vocal supporters. He has no intention of becoming president, and he never has. His mission, beyond political masturbation, is to continue his sermon about the viability of a completely non-functioning ideology, libertarianism, while paying homage to the L. Ron Hubbard of politics, Ayn Rand.
Along the way, progressives have taken notice of Ron Paul's positions on civil liberties and foreign policy. He's a non-interventionist, he's opposed to indefinite detention, he's opposed to the use of predator drones, he voted against the PATRIOT Act, he's against the war in Afghanistan, he's opposed to wiretaps without warrants, and so forth. All are positions that progressives rightfully hold dear, including me. Therefore, Paul appears to be "to the left" of President Obama in these specific areas, and so, consequently, progressives have been abandoning support for the president (many of them were never supporters in the first place, going back to the chaotic 2008 primaries) and shifting their support to Ron Paul.
Unfortunately, Paul's progressive supporters might not grasp that Paul's libertarianism, while informing some of his seemingly progressive views on foreign policy and the like, carries with it a significant load of horrendous and unacceptable baggage. Before I proceed further, let me be clear: I'm not pushing for some kind of ideological purity test, but Paul's views on a spectrum of other issues are so completely off the rails, especially relative to progressivism, that any progressive who's supporting Paul is basically forsaking his or her values in lieu of a sliver of overlap on a liberal/libertarian Venn diagram. Paul is a physician, so I'll employ a medical metaphor to explain. Imagine a surgeon attacking a cancerous tumor by firing a bazooka point-blank at the tumor. The surgeon might nail the tumor, but he's going to blast away everything around it, killing the patient.
Not to be overly hyperbolic, but, if implemented at the presidential level, Ron Paul's agenda on everything else besides the war and matters surrounding the treatment of accused terrorists are utterly destructive to progressive values, not to mention the well-being of the nation.
Based on statistics culled from the American Journal of Political Science and Common Space Score calculations from 1937 to 2002, Ron Paul has the most conservative record out of the entire roster of more than 3,000 Congress members from both chambers during that considerably long span of time. Put another way, Ron Paul is the most conservative member of Congress in modern history. Think of the most right-wing legislator you can come up with. Ron Paul is to that person's right. Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Rick Santorum, Louie Gohmert -- Ron Paul has them beat by miles. And it's really no wonder. So, on that note, what about all of that aforementioned "horrendous libertarian baggage?"
Paul's libertarianism is manifested in his desire to essentially subvert the functionality of the federal government. He wants to eliminate many cabinet level departments including the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Internal Revenue Service.
This alone should be a deal breaker for progressives. But there are many, many more.
Paul is opposed to tax increases and government spending. In fact, he wants to roll back federal spending levels to 2000 levels. This would practically destroy the slow economic recovery and slide us into another depression.
Paul, in lockstep with other Republican presidential candidates, "supports new tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, supports new tax cuts for corporations, supports ending Medicare as we know it, supports cuts to Social Security, supports the repeal of Dodd-Frank, opposes the Buffett rule, opposes ending tax breaks for Big Oil, and opposes ending tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas," according to ThinkProgress.
Regarding his posture on foreign policy, while he appears to be sincere in his non-interventionism, it's important to mention that Paul voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) just after September 11. This is the law that was often referenced by the Bush administration in defense of their most egregious trespasses. While not explicitly authorizing indefinite detention and eavesdropping without a warrant, the AUMF is cited by name in the controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as the basis for codifying indefinite detention and so forth. Ron Paul voted for this Pandora's Box.
He also introduced a bill, HR 3076, which would have allowed President Bush to issue letters of marque and reprisal -- to hire private bounty hunters tasked with apprehending members of al Qaeda "alive or dead." We can only presume this would have included American-born al Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki.
The President of the United States is authorized to place a money bounty, drawn in his discretion from the $40,000,000,000 appropriated on September 14, 2001, in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Recovery from and Response to Terrorists Attacks on the United States or from private sources, for the capture, alive or dead, of Osama bin Laden or any other al Qaeda conspirator responsible for the act of air piracy upon the United States on September 11, 2001, under the authority of any letter of marque or reprisal issued under this Act.
The language is pretty clear. But feel free to take him at his word that he's against this sort of thing -- unaccountable private assassinations -- even though he introduced legislation that would have done exactly that. Also notice how Paul used the very specific "act of war" language in the bill, putting him clearly on the record acknowledging the war on terrorism as a legitimate war.
In the domestic arena, all of his talk about personal liberty comes to an abrupt halt on the issue of abortion. Paul is staunchly pro-life and supports the criminalization of abortion -- calling for the arrest of abortion doctors, presumably for murder.
Paul is quoted on his website: "There has to be a criminal penalty for the person that's committing that crime. And I think that is the abortionist."