Glenn Greenwald has spent a lot of time calling for more intellectual honesty from alleged progressives during this campaign season, and rightfully so. After putting all of their anti-war and pro-civil liberties fervor into a candidate that has proven to be the polar opposite, they’ve engaged in some serious contortions to try and justified their continued unqualified support of now-President Obama. While a few brave souls (including both Greenwald and Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow) will express their disgust at warrantless GPS tracking, indefinite detention, and escalating militarism, the vast majority of progressivedom instead choses to ignore, justify, or tepidly disapprove of these actions. Greenwald summarized the honest justification for continuing to support Obama over someone like Paul thusly:
Yes, I’m willing to continue to have Muslim children slaughtered by covert drones and cluster bombs, and America’s minorities imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands for no good reason, and the CIA able to run rampant with no checks or transparency, and privacy eroded further by the unchecked Surveillance State, and American citizens targeted by the President for assassination with no due process, and whistleblowers threatened with life imprisonment for “espionage,” and the Fed able to dole out trillions to bankers in secret, and a substantially higher risk of war with Iran (fought by the U.S. or by Israel with U.S. support) in exchange for less severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, the preservation of the Education and Energy Departments, more stringent environmental regulations, broader health care coverage, defense of reproductive rights for women, stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities, a President with no associations with racist views in a newsletter, and a more progressive Supreme Court.
On the surface, this seems to be an accurate portrayal of a “lesser of two evils” scenario, but I think that perhaps Glenn hasn’t accurately portrayed the reality of a Paul presidency. Yes, Paul would absolutely slash federal programs with aplomb, maybe even many of which you heartily approve. Ask yourself, however, if this really does mean the end of the programs. It is highly likely that many, if not all, states would continue entitlement programs as a replacement of the eliminated federal ones. With the elimination of those federal programs and many federal laws, the Supreme Court wouldn’t have as much sway in our political discourse, much of it, again, being left up to the states. If Greenwald’s argument is accurate, it’s not a simple “pick which half is most important to you” argument.
And even if it is, which half matters most in a President? While you can most assuredly tackle the issues with entitlements and abortion and civil rights, etc. at the state level, can you do anything about targeted assassination of American citizens? What about warrantless wiretapping? Or a war with Iran to replace the “winding down” (if you can call it that) of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan? Those are all issues which you either fix at the federal level or not at all. But social issues and entitlement spending? Even blood red Utah is likely to keep some of them around. If we were keeping score, Paul would fulfill a lot more of your requirements for the office of the presidency.
If you crunch the numbers and still believe that Obama is a better choice for you, that’s perfectly fine. All I’m asking is that you exercise some honesty and soul-searching, ditch the tribalism of unwavering support for a Democratic president no matter how neo-conservative he may be, and choose who actually best fits your views.