Monday, February 4, 2008

On Super Tuesday I Will Be Part of the Revolution

The Revolution has barely been televised. Perhaps we can change that.

In past elections I have frequently been among the unhappy souls suffering from "electile dysfunction," the inability to become aroused by any of the candidates. I occasionally find a candidate I like in the primaries. In November I almost always find myself voting for the lesser of two evils.

This year is surprisingly different. There are three candidates that I could vote for with some degree of excitement who are still in the race as my state (Missouri) takes its turn in the primaries. It seems likely that at least one of them will be on the ballot in November.

Except for a brief fling as a member of the Citizen’s Party in 1980, I have never belonged to a political party. Although I consider myself an independent voter, I almost always vote for the Democratic candidate in races that seem competitive and for Libertarian Party candidates in other races. I haven’t voted for a Republican since Jack Danforth represented Missouri in the Senate. This time around, the fact that one of the remaining candidates for the Republican nomination is a libertarian (and former presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party) offers me a rare opportunity to vote my conscience without "wasting" my vote.

The slugfest between Barack Obama and the dynamic duo that is "The Clintons" is still too close to call. In all probability I will cast my vote in November for the winner of that contest. I won’t be participating in the choice between them myself, however, because on Super Tuesday I plan to be part of the Ron Paul Revolution.

I don’t agree with his position on health care, but I do agree with him on several other important issues. As a strict constructionist, he is calling for a massive reduction in the size of the national government. He would eliminate entire departments and pass the monetary savings back to taxpayers and powers back to the states. He doesn’t believe the government should be in the business of legislating morality. He wants to bring our troops home, not just from Iraq, but from everywhere. This last proposal is the one that really put him over the top with me.

I have spent my entire adult life looking on helplessly as our military forces have been used to promote and protect corporate interests around the world, interventions that have often obstructed, rather than encouraged, democracy. I have never agreed with our government taking on the self-appointed role of policeman of the world. Our resignation is long overdue.

Hopefully, the United Nations will rise to the task of fulfilling its purported mission of maintaining peace. If not, we may need to replace it with a more effective international organization. Either way, it’s time for us bring our troops home.

Representative Paul does not advocate an isolationist policy. He believes we should remain actively involved in global affairs. Other nations manage to participate in the global economy and to interact with other countries without having troops stationed all around the world. It’s time for us to give that approach a try.

Some people consider voting for a candidate with no apparent chance of winning to be "wasting" your vote. I think the real waste is that so much newspaper space and air time is spent discussing poll numbers and reporting on the amount of money raised by each candidate. It's a shame the mainstream media seem determined to ignore candidates like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul.

Voters seem to want "change," but candidates advocating and articulating real alternatives to the status quo are marginalized and ignored by mainstream media. As the field of candidates shrinks, if enough people vote for Ron Paul, it will become more difficult for them to avoid giving his platform some much needed exposure.

Beyond the issue of ending our imperial misadventures, the issue I care most about is health insurance. Both Obama and Clinton propose health care plans that would allow a buy-in to Medicare. That is the key to freeing us from the vise-like grip of the insurance industry.

I am deeply disappointed in Ron Paul’s position on this issue. He is among those guilty of muddying the debate by using the term "socialized medicine" to describe Democratic proposals, which can more accurately be described as "socialized insurance." The fact that, as president, he could veto any meaningful reform would make a choice between him and either Obama or Clinton very difficult for me, as I am equally disappointed in their unwillingness to completely end our occupation of Iraq.

With only a slight preference for Obama over Clinton, and the unprecedented opportunity to vote for a libertarian with at least some chance of winning, I will be voting for Ron Paul on Super Tuesday.

Should he overcome the odds and win the Republican nomination, I will look forward to November and the delightfully difficult choice between the greater of two good candidates, as opposed to the more traditional lesser of two evils. If Ron Paul makes it to November, I will be sorely tempted to opt for the revolution.

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