FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Failures of Sectarianism

 

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 the co-editor of DissidentVoice.org, and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of the forthcoming Red State Rebels, to be published by AK Press in March 2008. He can be reached through his website, BrickBurner.org.

 

 

More articles by:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

December 19, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russophobia and the Specter of War
Jonathan Cook
American Public’s Backing for One-State Solution Falls on Deaf Ears
Daniel Warner
1968: The Year That Will Not Go Away
Arshad Khan
Developing Country Issues at COP24 … and a Bit of Good News for Solar Power and Carbon Capture
Kenneth Surin
Trump’s African Pivot: Another Swipe at China
Patrick Bond
South Africa Searches for a Financial Parachute, Now That a $170 Billion Foreign Debt Cliff Looms
Tom Clifford
Trade for Hostages? Trump’s New Approach to China
Binoy Kampmark
May Days in Britain
John Feffer
Globalists Really Are Ruining Your Life
John O'Kane
Drops and the Dropped: Diversity and the Midterm Elections
December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail