Much has already been made of the interest shown in the Ron Paul campaign by groups on the reactionary right, from 9/11 ‘truthers’ to white supremacists. Less widely reported but of growing concern to those watching the Paul campaign and wondering if it is going wildly astray is the involvement of far-left groups who are flocking to Paul’s banner for reasons which may be genuine or may mask an effort to undermine the entire Republican primary. I like Ron Paul and what he stands for on a great many issues and especially his devotion to the Constitution, but I can’t help but worry about the unsavory character his campaign is beginning to develop.
Stories are circulating on GOP email lists of interested Republicans attending Ron Paul meetups around the country and being confronted by openly hostile leftist/progressive/socialists who seem to be supporting Paul, but have no love for regular Republicans who also support the candidate. There are accounts that confrontations have become heated at some of these meetups, particularly the one held in Las Vegas earlier this month. Suspicion particularly focuses on attendees who are believed to be MoveOn.org operatives and why they are so interested in Ron Paul. Is their interest genuine, or is it only part of a campaign to disrupt the Republican primary?
The involvement of MoveOn.org in the Paul campaign can be confirmed on their page at Meetup.com where they are shown as co-sponsoring a number of the regional Ron Paul meetups and they have also released a video ad in support of Paul. Paul’s campaign has also received positive public response from a variety of prominent leftists, including Cindy Sheehan. One socialist in the Netherlands of all places, makes a compelling argument for why US socialists should support Ron Paul.
Most Republicans see the objectives of MoveOn.org as inherently antithetical to the basic beliefs of the Republican Party. MoveOn.org is an openly anti-Republican, anti-Conservative and anti-Libertarian organization which is openly funded by a wealthy international socialist whose goal is to undermine and control the Democratic Party, and it is largely run by people with past associations with the Communist Party USA and the Democratic Socialists of America. With its position at the far left of the American Political spectrum and as the main instrument through which George Soros seeks to undermine and control the American political system, it is understandable how Republicans might be concerned about MoveOn.org’s interest in and support of Ron Paul.
The key to Paul’s popularity on the left lies with his opposition to the Iraq War, but also with the suppor the has from a segment of the traditional Libertarian Party constituency, the left-libertarians or social anarchists. This element of the broad alliance which makes up the Libertarian Party, where Paul was once a prominent figure and presidential candidate, is philosophically compatible with the most extreme parts of the socialist leaning wing of the Democratic Party. As typified by Justin Raimondo who has effectively formed an alliance with the anti-war left, they place issues like the war ahead of a broader libertarian philosophy. Many of them take an anarchist position against property ownership and are so hostile to government that they come off as anti-American.. They differ from typical ‘minarchist’ libertarians and neolibertarians in their outspoken hostility to the Republican Party and their unwillingness to compromise their extreme principles in the interest of political reality. Strangely they don’t have the same hostility towards the Democrats, and many of them see socialists as their natural allies. As the Democratic Party becomes more dominated by socialist factions it becomes more appealing to them. Their enthusiastic support for Paul means that there is a nucleus within his following which is already allied with forces within the farthest left part of the Democratic Party, and they have been drawing on that association to bring more leftist/progressives into Paul’s camp.
Paul seems willing to take support from wherever he can get it and doesn’t seem particularly concerned that socialists may try to influence his campaign or distort the nomination process in the Republican primaries. Although he has promised that if he fails to get the nomination he will not jump parties and run as a Libertarian, he doesn’t seem to care that the newly registered pseudo-Republicans he’s creating will leave the party the moment the primary is over, even if one of the more moderate somewhat libertarian candidates wins.
In a recent interview with LibertyWatch Paul makes very clear that he’s aware of his appeal to the left. He commented that, “Right now, liberals are the most enthusiastic about my campaign. If I get a speech on the House floor on foreign policy, I’ll get many hundreds — sometimes thousands — of comments sent to my office. I would say 90 percent of them are from Democrats.”
He doesn’t seem particularly concerned, and even accepts the idea that these supporters are ‘liberals’, even though it’s pretty clear that they don’t believe in most of the same liberal ideas that Paul or other libertarians in the Republican Party support. Paul even acknowledges this. “[L]iberals are very, very frustrated with their own Democrats. Although they know I have shortcomings from their viewpoint — because I’m for free enterprise and free markets — they love my position on civil liberties and they love my position on war.”
He’s clearly willing to take support from wherever he can get it, which is understandable, but it does put his loyalty to the Republican party and true libertarian ideals in question, as much as his unwillingness to speak out against the racists, conspiracy fanatics and other extremists who support him does.
It is Paul’s anti-war position which seems to drive much of the interest of the left in his campaign, which begs the question of whether their support is genuine, or just based on the single issue of the War in Iraq? Do they support Paul and everything he stands for or do they just see his candidacy as a chance to strike a blow against the evil Republican warmongers in their own primary. What will leftist/progressives who are flocking to register Republican so that they can vote for Paul do if he doesn’t get nominated? Would they stick with a candidate like Mike Huckabee or Fred Thompson who share many of Paul’s positions on issues other than the Iraq War, or will they flee back to the Democratic party once Paul loses the nomination and they’ve done as much damage to the primary process as they can? Perhaps the most important question for Republicans is whether Paul could hold onto some of their votes in a national election if he were a Vice Presidential candidate?
Paul seems to have decided that whatever advances his campaign is a good idea, no matter where that support comes from or what strings may be attached to it. Distressing though it may be to admit, it looks like ambition is turning Ron Paul into a real politician.