Don’t Fall for Ron Paul

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul opposed the Wall Street bailouts, is against the (racist) war on drugs, and wants to dismantle the American empire by bringing all U.S. military personnel home from the 150 or so countries where they are deployed.

Sounds good right?

Sure, until those troops get home. Paul voted against providing housing assistance to very low-income veterans, against expanding education benefits for returning troops, and against improving how the Department of Veterans Affairs is funded.

No wonder the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Paul a big fat F on their congressional scorecard.

Paul’s anti-veteran votes are the logical conclusion of his libertarian politics. Libertarians hate “Big Government,” by which they mean just about every federal law and program under the sun. That’s why Paul is against the minimum wage, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the food stamp program, mandatory immunization, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act that ended Jim Crow segregation.

Yet Paul’s principled opposition to “Big Government” ends when it comes to the issue of immigration. He supports denying undocumented immigrants any form of legal status, repealing the Constitution’s fourteenth amendment guaranteeing citizenship by birthright, militarizing the border, and forcing hospitals to report suspected undocumented immigrants. A consistent libertarian would oppose all immigration controls because they restrict an individual’s freedom to live where they please and interfere with the laws of supply and demand governing international labor markets.

As if Paul’s opposition to the law ending Jim Crow and his support for Big Brother’s anti-immigrant measures weren’t bad enough, there’s also the thorny issue of the racist newsletters that appeared under his name in the 1980s.

How Paul has addressed this issue has evolved (although he doesn’t believe in evolution). In 1996, he said the racist newsletters merely expressed a “clear philosophical difference” between himself and the Democrat he was running against. It wasn’t until 2001 that he totally disavowed them and in 2008 he claimed he still had “no idea” who wrote them on his behalf.

Why hasn’t he bothered to find out who wrote them? Maybe he needs more time – another 20 years, perhaps?

In the end, Paul claimed that he didn’t write the newsletters, that they were the work of a ghostwriter, and took “moral responsibility” for the racist content. I believe him and he deserves credit for taking responsibility.

However, that doesn’t get Paul off the hook. Eric Dondero, a former volunteer and personal aide for Paul, said “the wilder [the newsletters] got, the more bombastic they got with it, the more the checks came in. You think the newsletters were bad? The fundraising letters were just insane from that period.”

In other words, Paul’s campaign used racist rhetoric in its newsletters to generate cold hard cash. At that time the racist newsletters were published, his campaign was getting $1 million a year! That was an unheard-of amount of campaign cash for a relative nobody in a small Texas congressional district in the 1980s (it wasn’t until 2008 that a House race cost $1 million).

So what’s more disgusting: being a racist, or pretending to be one to fill your campaign coffers?

That wasn’t the last time Paul fanned the flames of racism for political gain either. During the 2008 campaign, he released an ad touting his vote to block student visas for those coming from “terrorist nations.” Since most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, would that make Saudi Arabia a “terrorist nation“? Does that mean that all nations with Arab and/or Muslim majorities are also “terrorist nations”? People who wish to study in the U.S. shouldn’t be given visas because of their nationality or race?

Although Ron Paul is probably not a racist, he has no problem promoting and exploiting racism for his own political and financial gain. That much is certain.

Keep all of this in mind the next time you hear a progressive toying with the idea of backing Paul’s 2012 campaign. Just because we agree wholeheartedly with Paul on one, two, or three issues doesn’t mean we should back his presidential campaign, which means (critically) supporting a candidate’s overall platform and political agenda. Inviting him to speak at an anti-war rally is one thing; turning a blind eye his hostility to the interests of workers, veterans, the undocumented, the elderly, the poor, African Americans, Arabs, and Muslims is something else entirely, especially when all of these groups are under sustained attack.

Ron Paul makes Paul Ryan look like FDR and voted against Ryan’s Medicare-killing budget because it “didn’t do enough” to reduce the deficit. No wonder he’s known as the “Godfather of the Tea Party.” Given all this, it’s fitting that Paul announced his candidacy on Friday the thirteenth. His politics are horrific.

Pham Binh is an activist and recent graduate of Hunter College in NYC. His articles have been published at Znet, Asia Times Online, Dissident Voice, and Monthly Review Online. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Pham, or visit Pham's website.