Bob Murphy brings my attention to a post by Anthony Gregory on the question of whether the handful of issues libertarians always talk about when promoting Ron Paul should be enough to earn a vote for him.
I'm not sure what Gregory feels about Nader - perhaps he's like Gene and would vote for him. I hope so - someone like that would be consistent. Unfortunately, I would wager that only a small minority of libertarians would vote for Nader on these grounds (and the ones that would would be either hard-core anarchists that have suspicions about Ron Paul in the first place, or those on the fringe of the movement).
It's an interesting read either way.
This line jumped out at me: "Ron Paul, from a genuine antiwar leftist perspective, shouldn't be considered good on 10% of the issues — but closer to 90% of the issues. Anyone who would prefer federal genocide and slavery to curbing the EPA and cutting taxes on the wealthy has some twisted priorities."
The first sentence is striking because it seems like we're talking about two different groups of people. If you're going after the "antiwar left", good luck with that - you'll probably get a fair amount of them - but that group is really, really small. People talk about how the antiwar movement hasn't been against Obama. It's bogus. The antiwar movement has been every bit as much against Obama as they were against Bush, because like Bush, Obama prosecutes wars. Code Pink has been plenty angry with him. The thing is, they haven't been able to attract as big crowds to their events because most of the people who came to the antiwar events under Bush weren't antiwar - they were anti-Bush's version of war. I went to protest events and teach-ins organized by pacifist groups, for example - but I never claimed to be a pacifist. So we have thinning crowds at these events, but that's because the actual antiwar left is fairly small. Most people left of center don't particularly like war but do not have a blanket disapproval of it. They are willing to accept a certain amount of civilian casualties as a consequence of war. They are comfortable treating prisoners of war differently than convicted criminals. They do not think there is any inherent problem in building and maintaining extremely lethal machines and training young men to use them against other young men. Or better yet - build lethal machines that don't require our young men to be put in harm's way.
But these sorts of people are not indiscriminantly comfortable with war. Not at all. We want it done in a certain way. And most of us that were in the protests in the 2000s but not as much now are not and never were antiwar. We also see a difference between Bush and Obama and Obama and Paul and think Obama's approach makes more sense than either Bush or Paul.
So if Gregory wants to convince the "genuine antiwar left", he should go for it. But I think that constituency is a lot smaller than he thinks, and a fair number of them are already positively disposed towards Paul.
Now, the second sentence of that quote is striking to me because of how condescending it is. And people say this sort of thing a lot. Paul says this sort of thing a lot. Somehow he gets treated like he's a "nice guy" but this sort of thing sounds more like "condescending asshole" than "nice guy" to me. These are big issues, though. So even though that's my reaction, I try not to be quite so blunt when I read things like this. But when you say things like that, just remember - we could shoot it right back at you and say that you're supporting slavery and genocide for not supporting judicious military engagement. That's why I'm not a pacifist, after all. Because I am opposed to slavery and genocide and I think pacifism will lead to slavery and genocide. That's what motivates me, but you don't see me calling pacifists promoters of slavery and genocide. Why don't you see me calling them that? Because I know that just because that's how I see the world, that's not how they see the world. They actually do care about slavery and genocide, and it would be wrong of me to act like they don't. Just something to keep in mind when you find yourself saying something like that. And perhaps also something to keep in mind when you scoff at those troglodyte Republicans booing Ron Paul - because Ron Paul has said stuff like that too. Maybe they're booing because they feel like Ron Paul has a history of being condescending to them.