What do you do when you find out that one of your friends is a Ron Paul fan? I just feel that there are a lot of folks who get counted in the Republican base even though they couldn't be much further from Cantor, Boehner, and McConnell if they tried. The events of this past week (mainly the killing of the Obama Jobs bill in the Senate, which was refused debate despite having a majority in favor) remind me of watching Gingrich tout HIS mandate from the people and the resulting Contract With America during years when Perot was having his moment in the national spotlight. How many Perot-bots had the unintended effect of adding to >his< power base?
And, moreover, what can we do locally, in small ways? I am in the middle of having a series of email messages with a friend who is a Ron Paul-ite. I could cut and paste some responses here (mine -- won't paste his here), but it's straight out of the Hartmann/Sanders/Kucinich/Michael Moore/Elizabeth Warren/Krugman/Stiglitz/Naomi Klein school. Also, I started out by making very clear that Progressives and Ron Paul-ites share a lot of significant common ground.
What I run into is a mixture of the following:
* Decentralization as a mantra
* (Opinion) Fed/central banking created housing bubble and also couldn't prevent crash. Obviously (point-of-view in response), the system is flawed.
* Ideological support for Austrian economics
* Respect for the Occupy movement and need for change on topics like money in politics/campaign contributions
I hate to see potential allies actually unknowingly being enlisted in the cause of the Republican establishment. And it is frustrating to put forward arguments like the fact that we GREW out of the postwar debt (120% of GDP -- proportionally 30-40% higher than current) and be met with the same "end the Fed" response and not feel like I am gaining traction. And yet, I could have a two-hour conversation with a Chicago School economics type or an Austrian economics Ron Paul-ite with very little cognitive dissonance or contradictory information or philosophies -- and I am just a layman!
Is it up to us to have to respond to EVERY soundbite and talking point, while they take pot-shots at anything and everything, pinning blame where they like? They won't put me on the defensive, but if we can't even agree on certain premises, we end up agreeing to disagree just to be civil, and McConnell and the righties will keep voting down Jobs bills, with these folks in their pocket. And Ron Paul backers won't have a moment of reckoning -- they will just keep saying "the system is flawed."
If Progressives took a big slice of the Ron Paul right (many of whom are really independent moderates who are more attracted to his image of honesty and transparency than his fringe ideals), we could consolidate a dominant power base, especially in middle America where the Senate seats are (15% or so of the population is represented by 40 Senators). How do we talk to them?