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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Typical talk with a fellow Progressive

This is a conversation on Thom Hartman. I begins with me trying again to make some inroad on a progressive blog:
This may be counterintuitive but what progressives need to do is support Ron Paul in next year's GOP primaries and caucuses and make friends with his supporters in the process. If enough of us do this, we can throw the GOP convention in Tampa Bay into chaos. It would probably result in a massive walk out by Paul supporters and possibly become the start of a third party coalition candidacy of Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders. Such a coalition in government would not allow for Paul's draconian wishes to be fullfilled in cutting domestic programs, but it would enable deep cuts in the military industrial castrophe. Paul has already designated any and all savings to go half toward debt reduction and half toward shoring up entitlements. He advocates this so he can fund his "opt out" proposal to allow young people to opt out of the system entirely. That proposal will go nowhere without 60 libertarian Senators. But with a coalition of libertarians and progressives in office, a deal could be struck to send that half of the savings to the states in block grants based strictly on population to be used as each state wishes. Not an ideal deal but one which busts up the gobal corporate duopoly and reframes the debate away from empire building and maintenance toward how best to build a peaceful green economy. For more on this idea see: http://progressivesforronpaul.blogspot.com/2011/08/this-blog-is-not-about-endorsing.html

Next I get a response, not an unusual one, a well meaning, one which tries to convince me that Ron Paul's policy are dangerous and naive:

Ron Paul is like a very fine grandfather clock that no longer runs.  He is right twice a day, profoundly so, but then there is the rest of the day and night.
Some otherwise intelligent people become Scientologists too.  There is an allure to the certainty of ideology, and Paul and the Libertarians love this utopian fantasy world of moral order and rationality too much to allow reality to get in the way.  I have heard Paul try to explain Austrian Economics, and it always goes to pure theory with no historical practical record of success.  In other words, this is a religion and trying to convert someone out of their religion is not likely to work or gain friends.
Practical alliances on points of policy contact are enough.  The idea of making Bernie stand by Paul with a straight face is cruel.  Comparing the two is ridiculous.  Bernie thinks and deals with reality without having a cult prescription ready to explain everything.  
The Fannie/Freddie meme is a serious lie contrary to the facts of the case.  In addition, it was Bush who tried to make them buy the bad mortgages, they resisted and barely figured in that market.  The federal policy was anti-red lining, not a subsidy program for people who could not afford a mortgage.  They had nothing to do with the private mortgage firms who committed these crimes.
Finally, the argument about money can have us all agree about the frauds of Wall St while we disagree about how to solve the problem.  Libertarian economics begs all the vital social questions that make democracy the real issue before us.
Next I respond in frustration because I am wanting to talk strategy, not policy:

I agree with your criticisms of Paul in particular and libertarianism in general, but I am not sure that you understand my point. It's about strategic voting, changing the debate, making sure it's not the same old story of the Democratic candidate trying to prove he'll put the pentagon budget on steroids as much so as his neocon rival will. It's about what can realistically be done given the rules of the Senate which neither party is willing to change. It's about a temporary alliance to gain the needed numbers to strike a mortal blow against a common enemy so that we can have a real debate about how to use or not use the government for puposes of economic growth and  justice. I am finding it extremely difficult to justify voting in a Democratic primary when thanks to gerrymandering and incumbency, there are no seriously contested races up or down the ballot between a progressive and a blue dog.
A coalition President Paul will never be able to do what a libertarian fantasy President Paul wants to do. I don't really believe that the GOP will nominate him even if he won a majority of the votes in the upcoming primaries. I don't believe our electoral college and congress will allow a plurality winning coalition campaign to occupy the White House, but I do believe that Paul and his supporters will welcome progressives on board when they see how much exposure it will give their candidate. And if by chance such a coalition wins, I believe it will be better for America than the present plan of populist rhetoric and premature capitulation.
Even if don't want to vote for him in the general election, do you not think it is wiser to have Paul in the general election debate along side Romney and Obama than to have the two corporatists alone on stage having the same tired old pissing contest over who's the most violent?
Do you have any competitive races between a liberal and a conservative in your primary anywhere on your ballot? If not, how are you not wasting your vote, casting it symbolically but not substantively? What possible harm could come from jumping ship to help drown the enemy when staying on board the current Democratic ship only solidifies the enemy's strength? I am very serious. Please convince me that I am wrong in terms of strategy. The only tenable argument I can think of is that the sectarian, libertarian Paul might win the general election and sweep 60 libertarian Senators into power, a possiblility I find to be highly improbable. Am I wrong to say that we are looking at a rare and epic opportunity in electoral politics for real change toward a peaceful, green and democratic direction? Am I wrong to think not taking advantage of this opportunity will be seen as an epic fail of immense proportions? I know that I am an unembedded, nobody amateur, but I would like one other good reason why this is not a strategy being talked about throughout progressive media and blogosphere.
 I apologize in advance if this sounds overly critical of you personally. I am trying to engage someone besides an opportunistic or naive libertarian in an honest discussion of this strategy. You personally are not at fault for what I see as a inside the box mutual political suicide pact made by those who have the most influence over the progressive agenda and strategy. I love Obama. I loved his "More Perfect Union" speech. I felt at ease with his moderately liberal platform but he has been outmaneuvered by a party hell bent on his destruction, and the economy is not going to make a comeback without massive stimulus, something that will not happen before November unless we go to war in Iran. I wish I could vote for him again and truly believe that real change was going to happen this time around. Something radical has to be done. Am I wrong? Somebody tell me why and how and what the alternative strategy is to get done what needs to be done.

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