Ron Paul vs. John Edwards – The Failures of Sectarianism by Joshua Frank

Dandelion Salad

by Joshua Frank
Dissident Voice
January 4th, 2008

Election 2008 has officially kicked off and the only real excitement thus far is the explosion of grassroots support for the Republican antiwar candidate, Ron Paul. The 10-term Congressman’s anti-government, pro-market platform has rallied a-never-before-seen online mobilization, filling his campaign’s bank account with almost $20 million in the last quarter alone. That puts him on par with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s fundraising prowess.

Many progressives, including myself, believe some of the libertarian fiscal ideas Paul espouses would be a disaster if they were ever implemented. Nevertheless, the policies of all the other leading candidates aren’t about to change the course of the economic apartheid that is already plaguing most people in this country. They’d simply continue it.

The upside of Paul’s campaign certainly outweighs the potential downsides. The critical issues now aren’t Paul’s plea to dismantle the welfare state (although cutting off all subsidies to corporate American would be fine by me), but his call to restore the Bill of Rights and drastically curb American Empire. I think most Iraqis living under US occupation would probably concur that ending the war ought to be priority number one for US voters this year. So why aren’t we listening? At this point Paul is the only candidate calling for a radical change in our Middle East foreign policy.

The Ron Paul rebellion, with the antiwar component at its core, represents a potential crisis for the Democratic Party. In the absence of a Ralph Nader type candidate and a coexisting movement, Paul’s crusade is the only major force in which to align with to stop the war in Iraq and, on a longer-term level, represents a politically activated and more mainstream segment of American society worth trying to reach out to.

Many left-leaning writers and respected activists have recently latched on to John Edwards’ anti-corporate campaign, claiming, as author Norman Solomon recently did, that if Edwards were nominated he “would be the most progressive Democrat to top the national ticket in more than half a century.”

It seems the litmus test for the lauded “progressive” label is pretty damn weak these days. Edwards may be touting populist rhetoric along the campaign trail, claiming he’ll clamp down on corporate crime, which garnered him Ralph Nader’s endorsement, but Edwards has utterly failed to challenge the US-Israel relationship and even President Bush’s lies regarding Iran.

During a speech broadcast at a security conference in January 2007 in Herzliya, Israel, Edwards echoed a dangerous neoconservative position. “Iran threatens the security of Israel and the entire world,” he claimed, “Let me be clear: Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons.” Later in his speech Edwards went as far as to say that “all options” should be left on the table, hinting, if not admitting outright, that he believed military action may be necessary to contain America’s new arch nemesis.

Most antiwar activists have been quiet regarding Edwards’ I-won’t-promise-not-to-nuke-Iran pose, but have gone to great lengths to discredit Ron Paul, calling him a racist because of the support he’s received from the likes of David Duke and other bonafide nut jobs. Guilty-by-association politics are petty and naïve. How soon we forget the smearing of Ralph Nader in 2004 because Republicans were supporting his campaign. Some may call us hypocrites for slandering Paul in the same way.

The Left so often swallows its own head with overt secertarinism, it’s downright embarrassing. Here’s Ron Paul electrifying a new contingent of voters. Thousands of them. He’s raking in millions for his antiwar campaign, yet he’s completely written off as a whacko libertarian. Many, if not most, of his supporters are new the electoral game. Sure some may indeed be rednecks, but what the hell is so wrong with hard-working folks who oppose Empire? Disregarding or pooh-poohing Paul’s movement because he’s not a progressive and some of his followers have odd world views, makes us look like elitist snobs.

Plus it is just silly.

The Paul demographic is essentially the same group of people the Left was attempting to organize at its apex in the 1930s, before we became a mostly irrelevant group of detached naval gazers, and postmodern-bullshiters. If we want any kind of revolution, large or small, we better stop being diversity-mongers, claiming we embrace everyone, aside from those we disagree with. How the Left could be so out of touch with regular Americans is beyond me.

Ron Paul, unlike any other candidate in the hunt this year, including John Edwards, has tapped in to a true populist current. The people who don’t typically vote and are generally disgusted with big government. And that is exactly what the Left should try and understand, if not replicate, even if they don’t care for Paul or the majority of his positions.

Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of the forthcoming Red State Rebels, to be published by AK Press in March 2008. Read other articles by Joshua, or visit Joshua’s website.


Pick Your Candidate – Take the Survey (updated)

Ron Paul: Bill Moyers Journal 01.04.08 (videos)

Attention Democrats: Who’ll Stand Up for Working Americans? (video)

Dennis Kucinich on Iraq; trade; economy; nuclear power (videos)

OK Father of Fallen Soldier Supports Peace, Kucinich (video)

8 thoughts on “Ron Paul vs. John Edwards – The Failures of Sectarianism by Joshua Frank

  1. Frank, would you care to post some credible evidence to back your allegations that Ron Paul’s “explosion of grassroots support”, his “never-before-seen online mobilization” has anything to do with his promises to stop the war?

    Why of all issues would this be the sole determining factor for explaining the sudden surge in right wing support for Ron Paul?

    This is certainly what you are suggesting in the light of your comments about anti-war sentiments on the left as well as on the right. In your piece, you are suggesting that support for Ron Paul has something to do with his promises to bring the troops home (the right wing way), so please back this claim with evidence.

    And BTW, a libertarian right-winger promising to brining the troops home is not the same as putting a stop to the war. A libertarian like Ron Paul probably just means he’ll bring the troops home only to have them replaced by privatized military thugs such as the likes of Blackwater. Surely this privatization of the same ole same ole isn’t your idea of stopping the war is it?

  2. Edwards and Paul both suck. They’re both frauds. Edwards isn’t really against corporations. Paul isn’t completely for free markets as he supports subsidies for oil companies. Paul also wants to impose his religious beliefs on America. Paul blames government for everything thats bad. He never blames private industry. Hey dummy, the Constitution doesn’t say by the people, for the people. Obviously you’ve never read the Constitution. That phrase is from a speech by Abraham Lincoln. If you go to Paul’s website he says he opposes Democracy so don’t give me any bull that he gives a damn what the people want.

    The article acts like Dennis Kucinich doesn’t exist. Kucinich is against empire and imperialism just like Paul claims to be. Dennis Kucinich opposes NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, and the WTO and he is a democrat.

  3. John Edwards still has one hurdle to cross. I predict that the MSM will go after the John Edwards – Rielle Hunter love affair story ONLY if he looks to be the nominee.

    The MSM would prefer to just ignore any sex scandal of a politician (Democrat, that is), but they may have to cover the story when Ms. Hunter puts John Edwards on the birth certificate as the father. Under some state laws, it’s the birth certificate that counts for child support, if the “birth father” does not contest it.

    Once Rielle Hunter determines that it would be much easier to get child support if John Edwards is listed on the birth certificate, I think that Ms. Hunter will let the story out. She knows about John Edwards’ fortune and she want it!!

    So, what’s this mean? It’s my opinion that Rielle Hunter’s life could be in danger. John Edwards would do anything to shut her up (and to prevent that baby from being born.) God help her.

  4. Kucinich will get us our of Iraq, NAFTA and WTO and rebuild the country. Additionally everyone will have health-care (there are more bankruptcies filed because of medical expenses than for any other reason). Not to mention, that he will put people back to work rebuilding this country. I do hope he adopts Paul’s idea of closing all foreign military bases.

    I live on the already militarized US/Mexican border, and I don’t want Paul putting all the troops he brings back from overseas along the border. The only way the immigration problem will be solved is with viable investments in third world countries. Kucinich is the only one who understands this.

  5. Thanks for this. John Edwards’ voting record, CFR membership, and Bilderberg Stamp of Approval circa 2004 screams “Fabian Socialist Globalist Elite!!” louder than any of his populist “I’m for the little guy” rhetoric. I am NOT fooled.

    Talk is cheap. Didn’t Hillary teach us anything?

    I’ve been watching CNBC for the last few days, completely slack-jawed at the way Obama, Huckabee and Romney have suddenly adopted Ron Paul’s talking points. Well, YOO HOO! Over there in the Ron Paul camp! Ron Paul actually BELIEVES in those ideals, they’re not just “talking points” to him, and his voting record proves it.

    Agree or disagree with his ideals, but at least know that Ron Paul is earnestly well-intentioned, honest, and consistent. I’m a progressive whose always voted for Democrats – until now – but the neocons are ready to drive our country right off a cliff and we HAVE TO STOP THEM. Dr. Paul is the ONLY ONE willing to do it!!!

    None of the Democrats still in the race are terribly interested in defending our Republic. Elect a Democrat and we’re voting for NAFTA, CAFTA, the NAU, SSP and the Amero. That’s why I’m registering Repug (hack gag barf) to vote for Ron Paul in the primaries.

    Partisan politics, as we’ve been doing it for the last several decades at least, is kind of stupid anyway. Not that I want a “unity government” (god no, no! NO! checks and balances!), but because right/left is a false dichotomy in the first place. We all pretty much (but not always) want the same things; we just sometimes disagree on how to get there. Neither party has a lock on morality or kind heartedness. Neither party has a lock on language or meaning, either. Too often we talk past each other not even realizing that we agree.

    What I appreciate most about Ron Paul’s platform is that he’s made it clear he’s NOT going to “fire the government” and obliterate Social Security the way his detractors say he will. His #1 priority is taking direction from THE PEOPLE,. That’s the President’s JOB! It’s what the Constitution says he’s supposed to do! By the people, for the people, yadayada.

    And WE want out of this war. WE want to repair our reputation on the world stage. WE want to quit with the funny money, inflation, and corporate welfare. WE want to take care of our veterans. WE want affordable health care and a sensible immigration policy. We’re NOT terribly interested in fighting the Eternal War on Everyone So We Can Kill People, Steal Their Stuff and Rule the World. We’d rather develop alternative energy sources, be good stewards of our landscapes and mind our own business.

    Since these are the priorities of WE THE PEOPLE, they’ll be Ron Paul’s priorities should he be elected. That’s the way this game was set up, and Dr. Paul plays by the rules.

    These aren’t topics the right or left can rightfully claim as its own, either. Both sides want these things, of course with the exception of the NeoCons, a vocal, rich, megalomaniac minority that does NOT speak for We the People and should just STFU and get out of our way.

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