Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Papa Doc Paul and today's Republican Party

Joe Conason asks the right question about Ron "Papa Doc" Paul: "What is it about the kindly old doctor that attracts some of the most violent and reactionary elements in society to his banner?" (The Lethal Fantasies Of Dear Old Ron Paul National Memo 12/21/2011)

Conason briefly recounts Papa Doc's history as "a perennial favorite of the John Birch Society and kindred extremists on the right" because of his general opposition to the 20th century, forget the 21st.

In that column, he doesn't address Paul's isolationist and civil-liberties issues that make him occasionally attractive to progressives. The depth of Papa Doc's libertarian views is indicated by his opposition to abortion choice. He may not like the gubment spying on Patriot Militia groups, but he doesn't think libertarian freedom includes women's reproductive choice over their own bodies.

Paul's Old Right isolationism is based on a narrow nationalism which opposes all international alliances and treaties, including arms-control treaties. He does allow that trade agreements can be acceptable. After all, they can help drive the wages and living conditions of American workers down to Haitian levels, which would fit in well with his Bircher libertarians Utopia.

Conason defines Papa Doc's political significance this way:

There is little reason to worry about the policies of a Paul administration, despite his current lead in the Iowa polls. But the rise of the Tea Party and the vacuum of leadership in the Republican Party have created a space for Paul's lethal fantasies, which if enacted would return us to the bad old days of mass poverty, rampant pollution, racial supremacy, and all the other ills that characterized the America of the robber barons. [my emphasis]
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