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Ron Paul: No friend of the 99%

Commentary by Fight Back! Editors |
January 28, 2012
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Ron Paul
Ron Paul

Ron Paul is attracting a lot of attention, including some attention from some people in the anti-war movement, because of his views on foreign policy. Paul has demanded that the president "bring the troops home." He reflects popular opinion when he says that President Bush overstepped his powers in starting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without a declaration of war. In general, Paul is known as an isolationist, rather than a pro-war candidate. However, Ron Paul supports assassinations and other ‘covert actions,’ acts, which are both illegal and anti-democratic, against other countries. In the Republican debates, his campaign tends to put little emphasis on his anti-war stances. Still, to find a candidate of either party who is against the wars is viewed by some as refreshing.

Many supporters of Ron Paul have also been reaching out to the Occupy Movement. But when Ron Paul ran for Congress in 2010, he said, “We should cut payroll taxes and give workers the opportunity to seek better returns in the private market.” While Ron Paul claims to want to protect Social Security, he is in fact backing a privatization of Social Security that would be a boon for Wall Street. His campaign plays the same tune as Wall Street when he says that Social Security is “broke and broken,” when in fact the Social Security trust fund grew by some $70 billion last year, to almost $2.7 trillion.

That said, there are many other big problems with Ron Paul, including his views and policies on racism and discrimination, women’s rights, GLBTQ rights, workers' rights, the environment and even civil liberties. The solutions Ron Paul is selling will not solve the problems of working people or create more equality. They will create more poverty and oppression, just like those of the other Republicans.

Ron Paul's views on African-Americans are especially ugly. A newsletter he put out for years was full of racist rhetoric. One quote out of many says, “We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational.” Another time, Paul referred to the Martin Luther King holiday as "national Hate Whitey Day." Though Ron Paul says he did not approve these statements, they appeared in his newsletter and under his name over the course of years.

It gets worse. Paul states that he’s against the Civil Rights Act. The Civil Rights Act was one of the greatest victories in the struggle for equality for African-American, Chicano, Asian American and other oppressed nationalities. While it is true that all sorts of discrimination and inequity still exist, it is also a fact that the 1964 Civil Rights Act provided the legal framework that ended Jim Crow - including outlawing separate and unequal schools, banning employment discrimination against oppressed nationalities and women, and desegregating restaurants, buses, and hotels. But Ron Paul says it “destroyed privacy” - meaning white business owners should be able to discriminate against African-Americans and others, in the ‘privacy’ of their own businesses.

Ron Paul's views on immigration are sure to appeal to the worst sort of racist. Paul is against any sort of legalization that would fix the problem, even for immigrants who have been in the country for decades. Paul favors tougher enforcement of immigration laws, breaking up families and expelling hardworking people. He even favors eliminating birth right citizenship, which was written into the 14th Amendment to the Constitution in order to guarantee rights to African Americans. This means children born in the U.S. would not automatically be citizens, which was a racist demand by the anti-Chinese movement in the 1880s and is still pushed by those opposed to immigration from Mexico and Central America today. Ron Paul places the blame for what he sees as the “immigration problem” on the U.S. "welfare state,” instead of a system that destroys the economies of other countries and exploits low cost labor. Ron Paul’s view flies in the face of the obvious fact that immigrants are among the most hardworking people in the United States. Immigrants often do the most unpleasant, most dangerous and lowest paid jobs in the U.S. and deserve full equality and legalization.

Ron Paul's newsletters were just as offensive to the GLBTQ community. A news article bearing his name said: “Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.” Despite claiming to be for civil liberties, his current positions on gay rights are not much better. In 2005, Ron Paul sponsored a bill called the “We the People Act”, to prevent federal courts from enforcing any civil rights claim relating to sexuality. Ron Paul also supported the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. Until this law was passed in 1996, a marriage that was carried out in one state was valid in any other state. But under this law, that is not true for marriages between two people of the same sex.

On women's rights, Ron Paul's record is also dismal. While claiming to stand for individual freedoms, Paul would take away a woman’s right to choose. Ron Paul would undo Roe v. Wade and allow states to make abortion illegal again. Paul also says there should be no legal protection against sexual harassment at work, opening the door for an employer to coerce or intimidate an employee to have sex with him or lose their job.

When it comes to organized labor, Ron Paul seems to think that union activities violate the constitutional rights of employers. He boasts on his website about taking the side of big business in every modern legislative fight between unions and employers - opposing card check and the Employee Free Choice Act, supporting the so-called “Truth in Employment Act” and misnamed ‘right to work’ laws, which lower wages and worsen work conditions. In December of 2011, Paul said he is opposed to the existence of the National Labor Relations Board, even in its weakened condition.

Ron Paul is also a global warming denier. Several times he has called global warming “a hoax.” But global climate change is very real, with the droughts and floods growing more severe in recent years. Climate change has already killed hundreds of thousands of people in developing countries, causing crops to fail, and every Texan knows about the summer 2011 record-breaking heat wave, drought and wildfires.

Ron Paul is known as an advocate of civil liberties, but the reality is different. Just recently, Congress passed a bill, called the NDAA, allowing the president to arrest people and hold them as long as he likes without trial. Ron Paul did not vote against this bill, for all of his talk about civil liberties - he didn’t vote either way. More importantly, Ron Paul and other supposed ‘libertarians’ are failing when it comes to the FBI raids on Carlos Montes and 23 anti-war activists. More than a dozen members of Congress, such as Representatives Keith Ellison and Dennis Kucinich, wrote to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to express concerns about these raids. Grassroots supporters of Paul, working with the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, asked Ron Paul to write a support letter, with no result. Ron Paul’s anti-war and civil liberties sentiment only extends so far.

Many activists in the anti-war and Occupy Wall Street movement interact with Ron Paul supporters. Sometimes, we find ourselves working alongside them. But in the end, Ron Paul's ideas simply are not what working people need. Ron Paul’s purpose is to deliver votes to the Republicans at the end of a mind numbing and lengthy Republican primary season. The problem in our society is not that government is out of control. The problem is that the government, the economy and most of our world, are under the control of a handful of very wealthy people.

Taking government out of our economy is not possible, nor will it fix things. During the Great Depression, the federal government acted to insure bank deposits, started Social Security and unemployment insurance and welfare as a safety net for the elderly, jobless and poor families. At that time, one quarter of Americans were out of work, and starvation was not uncommon. In the 1960s, another wave of federal legislation led to civil rights laws, Medicare, and federal financial aid for college students (the Pell Grant).

Even with government regulation, working people continue to experience financial crisis, unemployment, poor living conditions, housing foreclosures and other problems. But Ron Paul's so-called solution - removing the government from the economy - will not solve anything. It will make things worse. It will give more power to the 1% and the corporations.

Ron Paul will not win the Republican primary, and he will not be President. We do not need to worry about what would happen if he were elected. In 2008, he did not win a primary in one single state. He is not on track to win any this year.

But the problem with Ron Paul are the ideas he represents, which confuse working people and keep them from seeing what is really behind the problems in the country. We need people to build the movements in the streets, like Occupy Wall Street movements. Most people now are focused on the fact that the economic crisis is caused by the big banks and the billionaires who control both parties. The last thing we need is good people with anti-war sentiment, or supporters of the Occupy movement, wasting their time chasing the pied piper of the Republican Party - Ron Paul.