Friday, December 30, 2011

The end of the GOP?

With less than a week to go until the Iowa caucuses, it looks ever more likely that Republicans will dutifully go to the polls to nominate Mitt Romney. Certainly, the big money is backing him--though even more is lined up behind President 99%. The media is doing everything in its power to marginalize Ron Paul, who is second to Romney--and even bests him in some polls. I remain hopeful that the good doctor can pull an upset, but at this stage, I think Romney will emerge victorious.

One should not, however, downplay the significance of Ron Paul's emergence as a top tier candidate even if he ultimately falls short in Iowa. Paul's emphasis on a non-interventionist foreign policy and his insistence that the Empire, which is an integral part of the State, is not sacrosanct and can therefore be cut, are not standard fare in Republican debates. In point of fact, for all that the Republicans insist that the Democrats are soft on terror, there is a bipartisan consensus in favor of war and defense spending.

These views are important, so we'll examine in them in some detail. Non-interventionists, as opposed to outright isolationists, insist that while there are criteria under which a nation may go to war, i.e. when that nation has been attacked, wars of aggression are immoral. They are also costly, in terms of both blood and money. The United States spends more money on "defense" than all other countries in the world combined. Our wars also produce what our CIA calls blowback: reciprocal responses to our policies. These responses harm our country, but they also have a tendency to provoke us into war, thereby setting us up for more blowback.

This message is resonating with a significant percentage of the electorate. The media, especially the Fox News crowd, refuses to consider the argument. Always on the lookout for prospective Hitlers to bomb, they insist that Paul's policies are bad for the country. Unfortunately, there's no evidence that this is the case. While GOP chicken hawks are eager to continue fighting the wars forever, and start new ones, too, the soldiers who fight the wars are proving reluctant to die for our Empire. For this reason, Paul has more contributions from military personal than do all the other Republican candidates combined.

From this policy stems Paul's insistence that the Empire--our soldiers in foreign countries, and the money to support this network of bases--be liquidated. Not only does it cost an enormous amount of money at a time when the nation is essentially broke, but it actually makes us less safe. Bush argued that the Iraqis and the Afghanis would welcome us with open arms. Instead, we found that civilians did not like being bombed, and that our policies made us less safe by creating enemies faster than we could kill them.

The criticism of Paul has everything to do with his foreign policy views. Republicans are so wedded to the warfare State that they cannot abide anyone who is insufficiently ready to spill the blood of others. Democrats meanwhile, don't particularly care about the war, as long as their President passes some sort of legislation to give more free things to regular people. That wars funded through inflation make all of us--except for the defense contractors--poorer, is not something we're supposed to notice. That's another strike on Paul, who keeps pointing that out.

Paul's rise, and corresponding witch hunt by media, left and right alike, has altered the political landscape. Conservatives and libertarians are noticing the way Paul is being treated. The same party that regularly touts pro-choice, anti-gun, big spending moderates, has shamefully accosted a long time Congressman with impeccable fiscal credentials for the heresy of questioning our foreign policy. This group may be, and indeed, probably is, too small to tilt the election to Paul, but they are not going to line up to vote for Romney after the way their candidate has been treated.

I suspect that this rift will cost Romney the election. The GOP elites will blame Paul and his people, but there is no rational reason why any conservative or libertarian would vote for a man who has shared almost every view of our current President; that he has absconded some of those views now that he is seeking the Republican nomination does him no good. He is a spineless weasel. That the elites prefer him to Paul tells one all one needs to know about the state of the party.

I will not even hazard a guess as to what may happen next, but I would not be surprised if this turns out to be the last election in which a Republican candidate runs for President. If Paul kills the soulless squid that is the GOP, he will have done this country a tremendous service.

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