Over the course of the past year I've often heard murmurings of support for Ron Paul during discussions of the 2012 elections, even among my more liberal friends. Some have said that they want him to win because "at least he's the better than the other candidates," or that "at least he's consistent." One told me that he liked Ron Paul because "if the Republican establishment hates him, he must not be that bad." While these are not completely absurd reasons to like a candidate, they're not enough by themselves to justify backing a candidate, especially when that candidate is as far off to the fringe as Ron Paul is.
As Ron Paul has increased in popularity in recent weeks, scandals have followed. In particular, Paul's involvement with wildly racist, anti-semitic and homophobic ramblings in a newsletter he funded and published in the 1990s.
While others have parsed through some of the quotes already (see here), these are troubling not only in and of themselves, but because they signify something more deeply troubling about Ron Paul and his paranoid style. I began to suspect this when I first read about it, and so I dug a little deeper. And sure enough, there has been some less prominent reporting about his other shenanigans.
While most articles have tended to focus on Ron Paul's racist associations and the racism present in his newsletter ("We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational."), his paranoia, I found, extends to other spheres as well. In this example, the federal government, the United Nations, the Israel lobby and gay men (if you don't believe me, you can find pictures of the original document here):
"I've been told not to talk, but these stooges don't scare me. Threats or no threats, I've laid bare the coming race war in our big cities... The federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS (my training as a physician helps me see through this one.) ... The Bohemian-Grove--perverted, pagan playground of the powerful. Skull & Bones: the demonic fraternity that includes George Bush and leftist Senator John Kerry, Congress's Mr. New Money... The Israeli lobby, which plays Congress like a cheap harmonica. And the Soviet-style "smartcard" the Justice Department has in mind for you."
Here's another Ron Paul quote about the United Nations (source):
"They would confiscate our guns... The right of ownership of private property is severely threatened by our own government, but it's going to be a lot worse if the United Nations gets involved... If the United Nations has their way, there will be a curtailment of our right to practice religion... Eventually we will not have the United States of America and we will be nothing more than a pawn of the United Nations."
In other words, the issue of Ron Paul's questionable associations with racists, and the offensive articles he approved for publishing in the 1990s is not something that can be dismissed as something minor, or a mere issue of the past, but rather it is something indicative of something fundamental and deeply disturbing about his candidacy. Paul appears to actually subscribe to paranoid notions about how our reality works, and turns to conspiracy theories to justify policy positions. This is not a man who can, or should, be trusted with the nukes.
And, yet, in comparison to Ron Paul's policy positions, the nonsense he has spewed about everything from the Israel lobby to gays to blacks seems almost (almost) reasonable.
Many people assume that because Ron Paul opposes American involvement in Iraq, he must be a reasonable person. My liberal friends extrapolate from his support for the legalization of marijuana, that he "can't be all bad." They say that if the GOP establishment doesn't like him, he must be doing something right.
These assumptions are wrong. Ron Paul is not a reasonable person. Ron Paul is pretty much all bad. Ron Paul is doing nothing right.
On social issues, Ron Paul is essentially indistinguishable from the other fringe candidates who grace this year's Republican primary. True, he says he favors marijuana legalization. However, he is "pro-life," he is opposed to anti-discrimination legislation (including the Civil Rights Act of 1964), and he supports the Defense of Marriage Act.
Likewise, with the economic questions facing our country. Ron Paul says he wants to eliminate taxes -- or, failing that, a flat tax. In his own words on economic policy, Paul says:
"I want competition with the Fed. I want to legalize the Constitution. I want to legalize the trading in gold and silver, no taxes, no sales taxes, no capital gains taxes. Private companies can mint their own coins, they just have to be not fraudulent, like our government is fraudulent. "
At best, Paul is in basic agreement with all of the other Republican candidates in the primary: on deregulation of industry, on implementing the flat tax, even on getting rid of the EPA. (By the way, Paul has described climate change as a "hoax.")
And, so, unsurprisingly, Ron Paul's insanity continues when it comes to foreign policy: Paul not only opposes U.S. involvement in Iraq, but essentially any American involvement in the outside world at all. A Paul administration would spell the end not only to American military presence overseas -- including our military bases and operations, such as in Kosovo and Libya, which save thousands of lives -- but also all foreign aid.
One program in particular that Paul has targeted for being cut is the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, which provides millions of dollars in life-saving medicine and support for African nations to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. The legislation has been supported by both Democratic and Republican presidents, including George W. Bush, Jr., who actually expanded the funding of PEPFAR. In fact, Paul wrote an article for the radical "Tenth Amendment Center" in which he shrilly asserted that PEPFAR is "unconstitutional," rambling incoherently for a few paragraphs in which he makes clear his lack of any background whatsoever in constitutional law.
At this point, some Paul supporters might turn to me and say: "So what?! At least he's consistent!" Is Ron Paul consistent? I suppose I could admit that he is. And I could also stipulate that consistency is a rarity in Washington, D.C. these days. But that is not enough reason to support a candidate. Why not? Because Ron Paul is consistent only in being wrong nearly all of the time.