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In the Republican presidential primary, everyone but Rick Santorum seems destined to have his or her moment. Now is Ron Paul’s. Paul is polling well in Iowa and respectably in New Hampshire. Sharp attack ads against Newt Gingrich helped the media remember he is still running and deflated Gingrich’s balloon.
And Paul is getting some of the adoration from certain pundits that he enjoyed last time. Andrew Sullivan recently endorsed Paul for the Republican nomination. Glenn Greenwald of Salon defends Paul against perceived slights from the media.
The liberal counter-argument tends to be that while Paul is good on foreign policy and civil liberties, he is wildly wrong on economic issues. As Patrick Caldwell of The American Prospect wrote, “While his foreign policy and defense of civil liberties might appeal to the progressive heart, Paul jumps off a cliff when it comes to the economy.” It’s certainly true that Paul’s economic views are extremist and strange. But, unfortunately, Paul isn’t a progressive on much of anything else either.
Here are three crucial myths about Paul:
He supports individual freedom. True, as his fans always say, Paul supports protecting civil liberties from the federal government and opposes the Patriot Act. But it seems never to have occurred to those writers that half the country consists of women who might want to exercise the freedom to control their own reproductive organs. Paul opposes abortion rights and he talks out of both sides of his mouth on the issue. Paul says he wants Roe v. Wade repealed so the issue can be decided by the states. But Paul voted for the federal ban on “partial birth” abortions.
In general, Paul’s commitment is only to limiting federal power, not proactively protecting individual rights. Passing federal legislation to protect civil rights from states or private enterprises, and rigorous enforcement of those laws, is not on Paul’s agenda. Indeed, he opposes doing so. Paul says the Americans with Disabilities Act “should never have been passed,” because “it’s an intrusion into private property rights.” He even says he would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If Congress passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to ban discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation, Paul would presumably veto it. As Adele Stan writes in Alternet, Paul’s newsletters—which have garnered attention for their racist passages—also included homophobic conspiracy theorizing.