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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Response To Bob Cesca on Ron Paul not being a Friend to Progressives


I do appreciate you visiting my little blog. I wanted to respond to your recent post at HP in a thoughtful way but the space provided was insufficient to do so. I hope that I do not misrepresent you or appeal to you in an overly combative way. Please feel free to let me know if I do either.

Your article represents a number of opinions from a variety of progressives who find Ron Paul to be a dangerous person to vote for. I am in agreement with much of what you and others have said about Paul's ideology, patterns of behavior and voting record. I especially find his economic views to be in many respects the exact opposite of what our nation and the world needs right now.

However, I also weary of the same tired arguments against his candidacy and progressive support for it. We all know that Ron Paul is not a progressive. We all know that he was at least guilty of extreme negligence in allowing racist articles to appear in his newsletters under his name. He may even harbor in his heart a variety of bigoted sentiments that imo most Americans struggle (or at least ought) to overcome. We all know that if he got his way on his entire platform, there would be disastrous consequences for our country.

What you and other progressives against Paul do not seem to be able to take into account is how our political system, like it or not, actually works. No president, once elected, gets all he (or one day hopefully she) campaigned on. Every president gravitates towards some contextual middle ground once in office. The same would be true in a Paul presidency.

Moreover, as you know, there is almost no chance that Paul will win his party's nomination and without it, he stands very little chance at getting elected. However, his followers do want him elected, and maybe Ron Paul can be persuaded to do what is needed to get elected. True enough, many libertarians are so deluded by their glorious dreams of total victory (just as many progressives are) that they cannot come to terms with what has to be done for him to be elected.

And what will it take to get him elected? Paul will have to agree to a coalition  candidacy leading to real coalition government. Of course, neither he nor his followers are looking for this yet, but if enough progressives come on board to get him several victories in the upcoming primaries, he will have to consider forming such a coalition. He is not adverse to doing so as can be seen from his co-sponsorship of legislation with Kucinich, Sanders, Frank and other progressives.

If libertarians and progressives could sit down and talk calmly for just a little bit, I am certain there could be crafted several significant pieces of legislation which would serve to create jobs, reduce debt and fund  the building of a peaceful green economy. I wish we could reach these goals through purely progressive means, and I am convinced that if progressives like Kucinich and Sanders were able to enact legislation unfettered by libertarian demands, we would get to that destination much quicker.

However, I am sure you will agree that the congress is unlikely to turn majority progressive in the next election, much less be seated by 60 consistently progressive Senators. Absurd as this reality is, we will probably never see the Senate pass strongly progressives legislation as long as there is this 60 vote threshold. I do not see that threshold being lowered any time soon as both parties have vital political interests in maintaining it.

It is this political reality which compels me to advocate for progressives to switch parties or register in whatever means allowed by their respective states to vote in the GOP primaries and caucuses for Ron Paul. I think that as the numbers of Iowa are looked at more thoroughly,  Ron Paul will discover that close to 40 percent of those who caucused for him were Democrats or independents, and that the majority of them are progressives. I think he probably has an absolute ceiling of about 20% of  real GOP voters.  He would actually need at least 34% to win in a plurality in a 3 way race.

Sooner or later his campaign will realize that if they are playing to win, they have to explicitly and proactively reach out to progressives. The best way to prompt them to this realization is for progressives to occupy his campaign and vote for him. I'm not talking some sort of sit-in interference occupation but an actual face to face constructive and respectful engagement with him and his followers.

If progressives can become the driving force behind his victories and close finishes in upcoming primaries and caucuses, we can lift him to a plurality of votes come convention time. And can you imagine the panic and chaos of the GOP convention if Paul has a plurality of votes and delegates?!! Even if, at that point, progressives choose to vote for Obama in the general election, it would be worth the occupation of the GOP for Paul's candidacy just to cause a walk-out by Paul's supporters after the rest of the delegation decides to make the ticket, Romney/Santorum. Such a scene would be the worse press they could get.

More importantly, Paul's rejection by the GOP is probably going to lead to a third party candidacy. Such a candidacy will not be viable unless it represents a real coalition of interests. Of course, Paul and his campaign can choose to be obstinate, preferring purity of platform over principled compromise. Progressives can choose to do the same and end up backing a candidate who stands no chance of election but poses a real threat to the president's re-election.

Certainly, there is a risk even with a coalition candidacy that the electoral college ends up selecting Romney/Santorum or whatever hideous combination they come up with. We might even get Obama/Santorum or Romney/Biden if it goes to the congress. Politics is the riskiest of sports and the only one that really counts. But I am convinced that we have to do something unconventional this time around, if only in the primary. At a minimum a big electoral message needs to be sent to both parties: represent the people, not the corporations. This year's political circumstances present us with a rare opportunity to send that message in a loud and clear way.

I would encourage you to take a look at other posts on this blog in which I try to develop this idea  and articulate it for both libertarian and progressives to hear. If you have time for reviewing only one more post, look at this one. I appreciate your willingness to take the time to consider my perspective and hope that we can maintain a constructive dialogue.

Cornelius F. Brantley, Jr.


  1. Yes I am.... Don't you think we need some more imagination in our politics? Isn't the current state of our politics a dream come true for those who are making everybody else's life a nightmare?

  2. Oh btw...former resident...ur not Bob, are u?

  3. Cornelius, one of RP's enduring traits to his supporters is that he doesn't compromise on his stances or values in search of votes or coalitions. Why would you believe he would "explicitly and proactively reach out to progressives. "?

    as Cesca points out, he's predominantly antithetical to progressivism on 90% of the issues. I agree that the chaos and turmoil caused by his rise in false popularity in the GOP field by a progressive insurgency would be entertaining, but it's hardly a cause worth putting your morals up on the block for.

  4. Entwisjj, Thanks for your response. I do wish that Bob would respond but I doubt he would disagree with you.

    I am not sure how voting for Ron Paul in the primary would be putting one's morals up on the block any more than it would be by voting for the president. I doubt you subscribe to his drone strikes against targets that he knows involve killing elderly, women and children or a laundry list other immoral policy that is committed in the name of security by presidents and members of congress from both parties.

    The entertainment value of the GOP in chaos is not my concern. It is the result of that chaos which is almost certain to be a poor showing in the general election. Are you opposed to that goal? Or do you not believe that getting Ron Paul a plurality of votes going into their convention will not cause sufficient chaos to hurth them at the polls?

    I am not sure that 90 percent is a fair number. I would say on issues of war and peace, military spending, drug war, prohibition, civil liberties count for less than 10% of the big issues confronting our country. I am not sure if you are aware of the bills which Ron Paul has co-sponsored with Kucinich, Sanders, Frank and a number of other progressives but I think he has demonstrated the ability to work with progressives.

    I still would like to know what Cesca has to say to my question as to how Ron Paul would be able to persuade 60 Senators to vote for the extreme policies that Cesca fears.

    And what if he did explicitly reach out to progressives? What if he sought a coalition, would you then say no? For what end?

    I do appreciate and welcome your response. I only wish that Cesca had the time or the courage or whatever is holding him up to share. (I tried to bait him with honey the last time so let me add...I'm an amateur.... he should be able to take care of me in short order.)

    Peace, if it's possible given the lack of imagination and the abundance of tribal loyalty.