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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Difference between Principles and Ideals: Vive la France

I wrote this in response to a Paul supporter who is very proud (and rightly so) to stand on principles. The problem with her and other principled Ron Paul supporters who think that any compromise is a compromise of principles is that that they confuse principles with ideals. Such persons might think that we could have won the American Revolution without allying with France. But let's not get into an argument over counterfactuals:

I can respect Ron Paul supporters for not voting for Romney. What I question is many of them being unwilling to form a temporary coalition with progressives to oust the two-headed corporate beast.

The American Revolutionaries made an alliance with France (not a bastion of liberty at the time). If you want this revolution to happen you can't just think you can do it alone. Think of us progressives as the French.

If Ron Paul were to get his name with that of a progressive like Kucinich, Sanders or Warren on the general election ballot in every state and every territory, he could win this election and be our next POTUS. If he does less (write-in, Libertarian party run with Johnson), he will not win; although, he might do as well as Perot and give Obama a second term.

I think a great number of Paul's supporters would rather be martyrs than deal with the reality of winning and governing. This all or nothing mentality is what will keep libertarians (and progressives as well because I know that many of us are just as tribal and sectarian)on the sidelines forever.

Now I know that several of you will mention Blue Republicans and as much as I respect Brother Koerner, the Blue Republican movement has neither advocated nor condemned a real coalition candidacy. What it has done very well is create a positive atmosphere of hospitality in which a coalition might develop.

If you really want progressives to be the French in your revolution, you have to be willing to make concessions on economic policy. Now I am sure there are  hundereds of high minded folks crying, "We will not compromise our principles." No one is asking you to.

Ron Paul has not compromised his principles by promising to fully fund entitlements in exchange for an opt-out for young  people. If he were a bit more obstinate about his ideals as well as his principles, he would insist that all entitlement funds be returned immediately to the people who have paid into them. Thankfully, he sees this libertarian ideal policy as political unrealistic and counter-productive to actually advancing his libertarian agenda.

Once we make this distinction, as Ron Paul does, between ideals and the realistic enactment of principles, we can move toward coalition policy that will really draw progressives in.

Here is the deal that I have been advocating for a the past 14 months: Progressives agree to give Ron Paul's opt out proposal a fair hearing. Maybe a deal can be struck such as an opt out combined with a public option, but after the deal is made or not, take that money which was intended for subsidizing the transition and the opt out and apply half of it to debt reduction and half to population based block grants to the states with no instructions on how they allocate it and only one condition: report the details of how each state chooses to allocate it.

This would be a 4 year deal that could be renegotiated or not. If it is renegotiated, there could be a gradual transition for moving the funding responsibility back to the states themselves.

I think this is a very reasonable deal that violates no one's principles but advances both libertarian and progressive principles and goals simultaneously.

Now I know there are voices here who hate me as much as neocons hate the French, but just forget that this idea comes from a progressive. We'll invent some conspiracy theory that I stole it from a libertarian if it makes the pill go down.

Sorry about the parenthetical jabs. Felt the need to preempt  all the knee jerk responses I could so we might have a real conversation.

The bottom line is not: shall we lose with our principles intact but rather are we willing to win with less than our ideal?



  1. I don't think you can find two groups more ideologically opposed than Santorum and Paul supporters, and yet we have a coalition here in Washington.

    In sum total we probably agree on exactly two issues: 1.) (The other candidate) is insane and so are his supporters, and, 2.) we don't want Romney to get convention delegates. But an interesting thing happens when we're all thrown in the same room together to a common purpose... suddenly our enemies become human beings.

  2. Blue, I do hope that what you are talking about prevents Romney from getting the nomination but do you really believe it will get Paul the nomination?

    You are right though, get people together without all the corporate interference and you have thoughtful human beings who actually listen to one another. That's encouraging.