2008 Running on Angry
posted by August 9 at 11:15 AMon
I have a feature out in this week’s Stranger about the surprising popularity of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.
Paul has a large and growing group of supporters here in Washington State, largely because of his antiwar stance. These supporters are trying to get him to come to Hempfest (Paul has been a critic of federal drug laws). They’re making calls to Iowa in an effort to boost Paul’s chances in this weekend’s Iowa Straw Poll (with Rudy Giuliani and John McCain not participating in the poll, some observers have predicted Paul will place second, behind only Mitt Romney). They’re signing on to his local Meetup groups in droves.
One of Paul’s local supporters, who’s featured in my story, is an employee at the Google office in Kirkland who, like me, flew down to the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, in early July so that he could see Paul’s Candidates@Google appearance. This local Paul supporter dropped $400 on plane fare, donated the maximum $2,300 to Paul while in California, and gushed on camera (gushing begins at around 42:00) about how excited Paul has made him about this presidential race.
For me, all of this support for Paul in liberal/libertarian Washington raises a question: Do Paul’s local followers really understand his political philosophy, beyond his unique (for a Republican) opposition to the Iraq war?
In my piece, I suggest that Paul’s views, and his political philosophy, really don’t mesh with those of a lot of his new followers—especially on issues like global warming (he doesn’t believe in it), abortion (not a fan), gun control (he thinks guns in the hands of airline passengers would have prevented 9/11), and how to catch Osama bin Laden (he wants to issue retro “letters of marque and reprisal”).
I happen to love Paul’s “letters of marque and reprisal” idea, just because it’s pure Paul and is so 1800s it makes me smile. But here’s something that really caused me to do a double-take: Paul’s stance on global warming. From my story:
Perhaps the best [example of] how radical Paul’s positions can be relative to the more mainstream people who are now starting to support him: Paul is still a global-warming skeptic, calling fears about the problem “overblown” at a time when even Bush has recognized the reality of climate change.
Paul’s solution to all environmental problems is essentially to do nothing and hope the market works everything out. Schrage, the Google executive, sounded skeptical of this approach and pointed out that market forces created the global-warming problem in the first place. “Climate change seems like something that wouldn’t, indeed hasn’t, been an issue that’s been well addressed by market forces today,” Schrage told Paul. “Seems like the perfect example of a market failure—that the external costs of pollution don’t get absorbed by companies—and thus a natural place where some sort of collective action, government intervention, might be appropriate.”
Paul disagreed, and suggested that a greater respect for private property in America, and a greater appreciation for how what one person does on his or her private property affects the environment on another person’s private property, could somehow reverse environmental problems. When Schrage pointed out the international nature of the climate-change problem—the fact that factories in America can ultimately affect the weather in India—Paul answered: “If there is manmade pollution…”
Which was one rather big if.
He continued: “If there is man-made pollution, it might be in China and I know I’m not willing to tax you or send troops over there to close down plants.”
To read the whole piece, click here.