A Democrat For Ron Paulby Doug Mataconis
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.
There is only a small spark of respect for American civic values in the GOP’s nomination contest. That spark is Ron Paul. But there is a massive reservoir of people who can nurture that spark into a prairie fire of reform within the GOP. We progressives need to ensure that the spark doesn’t die out and that the real conservatives among the Republicans and Independents on the right have a chance to catch that spark.
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 (as unlikely as it seems right now). Howard Dean was never expected and his rise was extremely unlikely, but now he heads the DNC and is bringing many progressive values to the party’s operations. Reform is an ongoing and protracted process, especially for part-time citizen activists. There are conservatives out there hungry for an honest voice that reflects their values: a Dean-like surge could happen in the GOP (indeed, it seems to be the only thing that can save the party) and we Democrats should encourage such a revolt.
There are some Republicans who are now realizing that the GOP made a mistake in 2000 when it started down the road to secret detention facilities, warrantless wiretaps, and the Patriot Act. Yes, we didn’t know 9/11 was going to happen when Bush was elected, but the seeds for stuff like this were all there. The neocons were gathered around the Bush campaign, and plans for a war in Iraq were being drawn up months before September 11th even happened.
Whether those people will be enough to reverse what was started when George W. Bush took office is unclear, but unfortunately seems unlikely.