So, yesterday, Republican Ron Paul raised $4.07 million, in a Guy Fawkes Day fundraising stunt. That is more money than any other Republican has raised in a single day, although it falls short of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s biggest single day take.
Dr. Paul is a candidate whose campaign has caused no shortage of consternation, both among us here on the political left, as well as in Republican circles. Dr. Paul is, after all, a nut. He’s an unapologetic isolationist, a goldbug, a religious fundamentalist, and a possible to probable racist. He polls at under 5% in nearly every poll.
So why is this person who most Americans had never heard of a year ago outraising nearly all Republican contenders and most Democrats, without any support from major lobbys or corporations, and drawing adoring crowds nearly everywhere he goes?
I have a theory. It is because no matter how crazy Dr. Paul’s beliefs are, he is not in the least bit ashamed to have them. And because Dr. Paul’s supporters aren’t in the least bit ashamed to be supporting Dr. Paul.
This shouldn’t be that surprising. After all, we know the polls on the American support for the war in Iraq. And simple math tells us that lots of self-identified Republicans and conservatives oppose this war. And it ought to be obvious to us that they have no place else to go.
No other Republican candidate even dares to suggest that we ought not attack Iran, much less withdraw from Iraq. And no Democrat has made even a cursory effort to appeal to Republicans or Conservatives. Part of that is the nature of the primary process; in most states, independents and Republicans don’t count, so who cares about their support? But part of that is the fault of Democrats, including ourselves in no small part. In our own arrogance after the 2006 elections, and our own strong desires to not only end the war in Iraq and have real government in the war against al-Qaeda, we have demanded and received candidates whose agendas are bold well beyond reversing the disasters of the last two terms of foreign and domestic security policy. Indeed, our three front runners have all articulated detailed health plans, but not detailed troop withdrawal plans for their first term.
And here’s the thing: that is the smart thing for the three of them to be doing. Because we have not risen up in outrage to deny Sen. Clinton, Sen. Edwards, or Sen. Obama our support. We have not given four million dollars in a single day to Dennis Kucinich – hell, we’re removing Mike Gravel from the debates. We’re willing to rationalize it as doing what it takes to be electable, or being worth it to elect a person of such character, or being scared off by the vicious media. Because ending the war in Iraq is important, but not so important that we can give another Republican a Supreme Court nomination or put Roe at risk.
So right now, we’re really pissed at Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein. We’re pissed because they are going to vote to confirm Michael Mukasey as Attorney General, despite the fact that the Democrats can block him without a single Republican joining them, or having to worry about Joe Leiberman jumping ship. Their rationale is that this is the best Attorney General we can expect from this President.
The refrain is the same: Mukasey is the best we can get from this President; Clinton, Edwards and Obama are the best we can get from this Democratic Party.
Posit: we are getting exactly the kind of government from the Democrats in Congress as we have asked for, and as we deserve.