Sunday, 9 September 2007

Big Brother is strangling you

While Hilary Clinton looks like a cert for the democratic candidate in the US presidential race, there is an intriguing side plot - an impressive joker in the Republican pack: baby doctor Ron Paul. He is the unexpected and clever anti-war libertarian cat, disguised in Republican colors, taking on the usual array of Republican pro-war hawks.

As Brian Doherty writes on

Ron's stances: "Voted against Iraq War. Voted against Patriot Act. Never voted to raise taxes. Never voted to increase government. Opposes Internet regulation. Opposes War on Drugs. Opposes Torture. Supports non-interventionist foreign policy. Supports habeas corpus."...

While he is certainly very libertarian, he is in many ways more federalist and constitutionalist than libertarian in a strict sense. He's willing to leave all sorts of things to the states rather than imposing small-government solutions from the top down.

As Paul told me.. "the freedom philosophy shouldn't be challenging to too many people, when you emphasize that all I want to do is leave you alone."

He's willing to leave many controversial issues to states and localities. He wants to leave most of us alone to manage our own affairs, as either individuals or smaller polities. He's a dedicated enemy of some of the most evil and repressive policies currently afoot in America.

Ron Paul was one of the few republicans to vote against the Iraq war in 2002. He is an old school Jeffersonian, which means he supports a federal government with greatly constrained powers, advocates and follows a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, wants to safeguard the rights and property (both private and common) of citizens, and has a strong moral stance.

Hilary Clinton, assuming she wins the democratic nomination, might be expected to walk the election in November 2008, if standing against any of the Republican pro-war hawks: the US public is sick of the war in Iraq and this looks set to be the decisive policy issue. But, were Ron Paul selected as Republican candidate, his long standing and unreserved anti-war stance would cast Hilary in a pro-war light. Given this, it is interesting that there are still some Democrats who are batting for Ron Paul as Republican nominee. Here is an example from the Blog for Arizona:

Like many liberals I am deeply disturbed by the political environment in the Republican party. They are quickly becoming (if they are not already) the party of American fascism, and that fascism is marching draped in the flag and carrying a crucifix. But it is not just liberals that see this trend clearly. Many conservatives see it too, and they don't like it any better than we.

It is purely self interest for Democrats to support and encourage those within the Republican party who are real, Constitution-respecting, small government conservatives to retake their party. We are in the fight of our lives against those who would make opposition to their designs to radically alter our society a crime and use the powers of government to destroy their enemies. Our natural allies in that fight are not just other liberals (we are weakened if we limit our alliances such) but those in the other party who are just as disturbed by the past 6 years as we.
By helping Ron Paul supporters, we help ourselves. We don't have to agree on every issue to agree on fundamental respect for the Constitution, respect for civil rights, and respect for the integrity of our democratic process. Clearly, not everyone supports those values anymore; those that do, despite any policy differences we may have, are objectively allies in the fight to keep the American experiment alive.

I don't want to see another Republican President any more than the next Democrat. But I do want to see a Republican nominee who stands up for civil rights, who speaks sensibly about America's place in the world, who insists on the rule of law and rejects the exceptionalism and emergency powers advocated by every other GOP candidate. I want to see the Republican part rally around a voice that is not encouraging them to tear apart the Constitution in fear of terrorism. I want to see a Republican nominee who will enable the American people to experience a campaign of hope and ideas, not of fear and McCarthyism.

There is only one way I can see to make that happen: do everything we can to ensure that the GOP nominee is Ron Paul.

So, what do we have here? A Democrat campaigning through his blog for a Republican candidate? A Republican who is exciting many Democrats with his liberal views? Is there a new political center appearing on the horizon - one harking back to individual freedom, and liberalism?

Ron Paul is masquerading as a Republican, because he sees that as the most effective way to win influence and votes for his libertarian agenda. But he is hardly registering on the mainstream media in the US, so does he have a chance? Well, here we get to the really intriguing part - he has become the favorite of the youtube generation, and the blogshere, with a rapidly swelling grass roots support. We have just seen an example of such support in the blog quoted above.

The internet is changing the face of politics and the democratic process, by giving a voice to every citizen, and thus breaking the long held stranglehold of the corporate-sponsored mainstream media. And we all know how fast things move in the internet world. Meanwhile, the US political process still moves at a traditional stately Victorian pace. A tremendous amount can happen on the internet in 15 months. With a young and enthusiastic grass roots support organizing themselves through the new paradigm technology, the old paradigm world of politics may be about to get one of its biggest surprises ever. Don't write off Ron Paul yet!

Why has crusty old Ron Paul become such a hit with the internet-surfing youth? At the recent series of Google lectures he drew the largest crowd of any of the candidates. He is the most popular candidate on youtube. What is happening here?

I am an old fashioned UK-style libertarian, which means an anarchist. The US-style libertarian is more liberal, in favor of small government rather than no-government. Although any form of supervision rankles with me, I do recognise that anarchy can only world when you have enlightened people, ie people who take responsibility for their selves, and who understand that to hurt anyone else is to hurt their own self. None of the nations of the world currently have a majority of such people, and accordingly there is a need for some level of supervision. So, pragmatically, I find myself surprisingly in tune with Ron Paul - "surprising" because he is standing as Republican and I never thought I would see the day when I would find myself with some favorable views on a Republican - thankfully, life is full of surprises!

Just as the internet and other new paradigm forces are bringing a new level of freedom to the individual, at the expense of the power cabals, so the new paradigm will inevitably bring a new approach to government and to politics. The political process can no longer ride roughshod over the people - we now have a voice, and the means to organize ourselves without censorship or authoritarian control.

The ongoing tendency in government has been towards totalitarianism, whether as a suffocating state mother, breeding dependency and a blame culture, or as an increasingly rabid authoritarian father, enslaving the people to a fear-and-greed-based agenda. Whether left or right wing, the traditional political process creates ever more flabby governments, who seek to control ever-more of our lives, while taxing us at ever increasing rates, to pay for their unnecessary control structures and their profligate and unjust welfare structures. It is time that we, the people, grow up, and leave the nest of big government, and take responsibility for ourselves. It is time to shift our focus and our resources away from the increasingly over sized centralist national and international governments, and back to local communities, where neighbors can take control together of their own neighborhoods. It is now our time to return to individual freedom, and to return to community life. Big brother is strangling us. We must leave the nest while we are still free to do so.