We like his populist approach, his recognition that there are powerful interests running this country that won't give up power without a fight, and his talk about poverty. In some ways (certainly in terms of campaign rhetoric) he's the most progressive of the major candidates. It is, of course, a bit of a political act he was, at best, a moderate Southern Democrat when he served in the Senate. But at least he's raising issues nobody else is talking about, and we give him immense credit for that. And we've always liked Dennis Kucinich, who is the only person taking the right positions on almost all of the key issues.
But Edwards has slid pretty far out of the running at this point, and Kucinich is an afterthought. The choice Californians face is between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And Obama, for all of his flaws, has fired up a real grassroots movement, has energized the electorate, and is offering the hope of a politics that looks forward, not back. On Feb. 5, vote for Barack Obama.
We have a lot of disagreements with Ron Paul and his libertarian worldview. He opposes the taxes that we need to make civil society function and the government regulations that are essential to protecting the most powerless members of society. From its roots in the Magna Carta and Adam Smith's economic theories to the Bill of Rights, it's clear the United States was founded on a social compact that libertarians too often seem to deny. And Paul compounds these ills in the one area in which he departs from the libertarians: he doesn't support federal abortion rights. He's been associated with some statements that are racially insensitive (to say the least). He clearly shouldn't be president.
But he won't Paul isn't going to win the nomination. So it's worthwhile endorsing him as a protest vote for two reasons. His presence on the ballot serves to show up some of the hypocrisies of the rest of the GOP field and he is absolutely correct and insightful on one of the most important issues of the day: the war.
Paul is alone among the Republican candidates for president in sounding the alarm that our country is pursuing a dangerous, shortsighted, hypocritical, expensive, and ultimately doomed strategy of trying to dominate the world militarily. He opposed the invasion of Iraq and thinks the US should pull out immediately. It's immensely valuable to have someone like that in the GOP debates, speaking to the conservative half of our country about why this policy violates the principles they claim to hold dear.
Paul is absolutely correct that if we stopped trying to police the world, ended the war on drugs, and quit negotiating trade deals that favor multinational corporations over American families and workers, we would be a far more free and prosperous nation.
We endorsed Ralph Nader for president in 2000, in large part as a protest vote against the neoconservative politics of the Bill Clinton administration (the North American Free Trade Agreement, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, welfare "reform," etc.). And Nader's Green Party campaign had a place (particularly in a state the Democrats were going to win anyway). We've never been among those who blame Nader for Al Gore's loss Gore earned plenty of blame himself. But four years later we, like a lot of Nader's allies and supporters, urged him not to run and he ignored those pleas. Now he may be seeking the Green Party nomination again. Nader hasn't formally announced yet, but he's talking about it which means he still shows no interest in being accountable to anyone. It's too bad he has to end his political life this way.
Fortunately, there are several other credible Green Party candidates.