What Are Ron Paul’s Liberal Fans Thinking?
For anyone moderately familiar with Ron Paul’s record, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a litany of racists, anti-Semites, conspiracy-theorists, and militia members back his presidential campaign. Paul, after all, has spent decades cultivating the support of the far-right, not least by publishing for years a newsletter steeped in bigotry. (Read my 2008 article “Angry White Man,” for ample evidence.) Much more disconcerting is the fact that so many prominent liberals have been eagerly lining up behind Paul’s candidacy. Unfortunately, this isn’t an aberration, but a telling indication of the skewed political priorities of many on the left.
The consumer advocate and sometime presidential candidate Ralph Nader was one of the first prominent liberals to offer Paul support, telling The American Conservative in September that there exists a “foundational convergence” between progressives and libertarians like Paul. “Ron Paul has always been anti-corporate, anti-Federal Reserve, anti-big banks, anti-bailouts,” Nader said. He has since been joined by others on the left, including the editor and publisher of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel. “I have big problems w/Ron Paul on many issues. But on ending preemptive wars & on challenging bipartisan elite consensus on FP, good he’s in,” she tweeted on December 30.
But it’s not just prominent progressive writers who are neglecting to grapple with Paul’s record and ideas. A Public Policy Polling survey conducted in Iowa a week after the media drew renewed attention to his bigoted newsletters found that Paul’s favorability rating among Democrats increased from an already surprisingly high 59 percent to 70 percent. The same poll found that Paul enjoyed a remarkable 68 percent favorable rating from voters who identify as “very liberal.” Indeed, among all Iowans, it was the “very liberal” voters with whom Paul was most popular. Not bad for a man who wants to eliminate Medicare and Social Security, opposes the 1964 Civil Rights Act, has warned of “a coming race war,” and believes that legalized abortion is unconstitutional.