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Posted by on Jul 13, 2011 in Politics, Society | 26 comments

Blue Republicans: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

My article of a few days ago — If You Love Peace, Become a “Blue Republican” (Just for a Year) — seems to have caused a stir.

Many people of independent, liberal or Democratic sensibilities voted for Obama in 2008 in the hope of jolting America toward civil liberties and away from war, only to find themselves in 2011 disappointed that we are still starting wars and doing nothing to re-instate some of our most basic civil and economic freedoms.

My article suggested “Blue Republicans” as a moniker for those people who, still wanting peace and their basic Constitutional rights, will register Republican to help ensure that Ron Paul gets his party’s nomination.

Within a few hours of the article’s being published, a Blue Republican Facebook group was born, and faster than anyone could say “liberty,” a designer had donated a rather wonderful logo. By the end of the weekend, the group had about 2000 members, and the original article had been shared more than 11,000 times on Facebook.


Simply, Americans are at the beginning of a gestalt switch, which allows them to see something Noam Chomsky pointed out some time ago:

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum — even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.

And what are “the presuppositions of the system” — those political realities ushered in and maintained by both Left and Right over the last few years? Here are a few.

  1. Wealth is systematically transferred from productive citizens to those who create money as debt and then charge interest on that debt.
  2. Individuals have no fundamental right to privacy: without legal process, a government employee may sign his own warrant and intrude upon any aspect of your life — the books you have taken out from the library; the things you’ve looked at online, the calls you’ve made, the goods you’ve bought etc. He can even come into your house. (This is somewhat akin to the Stamp Act, which allowed British officials to enter American homes — one of the triggers of the War of Independence.) The government may store arbitrary amounts of the data they collect.
  3. Individuals no longer have a right to contract with a private party to transport them to another part of the country without a government officer’s permission, which will be granted only after an act that would otherwise be deemed an assault, and possibly a sexual assault, or after the provision of visual information about her body that she would not voluntarily show anyone with whom she was not intimately involved. A traveler will be separated from her property and members of her family when this act is conducted. (This could be likened to the situation in a Soviet country before the Iron Curtain came down.)
  4. Government officials direct significant fractions of the country’s wealth to selected groups with whom they have been or are associated. (This is similar in effect, if not in intent, to the actions of many corrupt African regimes.)
  5. The government has the right to assassinate its own citizens. (This is akin to the old communist police states.)
  6. The government may mobilize American sons and daughters to attack those who do not threaten us — now without authorization by our supposed representatives.
  7. The government has the right to know where you keep your wealth and what you do with it, even beyond the declaration of income for taxation purposes and even if you are not suspected of committing any crime.
  8. Most terrifying, telling the truth is sometimes a crime: if you are served a warrant under the Patriot Act, and you tell someone about it, you have committed a crime. (This is akin to nothing on earth, and is reminiscent only of George Orwell’s novel, 1984.)
  9. Since many of the above are obviously unconstitutional, the ultimate legal protection of Americans’ human rights is void when the government deems it so.

All of the above points concern basic civil rights, and the very identity of the nation.

In the light of these, many Americans are feeling that the country has gone too far down a slippery slope toward tyranny and have decided that urgent action must be taken.

Critically, they realize that our current two-party political paradigm is seriously bankrupt as it has brought us to this point. It’s not that we got politically lazy; we did not: in fact, we’ve been as energetic as ever in opposing our political foes on our favorite political issues… Rather, we got too involved in the issues that defined our old political identities, and missed how the fundamentals were being changed around us.

As we were all having our “I’m right, you’re wrong” Democratic and Republican arguments, the powers that be made themselves more powerful, and while we were arguing, we have lost most of the rights that we weren’t arguing about because we took them for granted.

It is as if we have suddenly looked up from an argument at the kitchen table over which sofa we should buy for the living room, only to find out that the house has been foreclosed on and we’re homeless. Sure, the issues we were arguing over were important — but they were not the most important, nor are they now the most urgent.

As I have written elsewhere, America has been brought to its knees by a Left that has empowered the state and a Right that has subsidized big business. The nation has been disempowered by an axis between the apparatchiks of State that pass laws that concentrate wealth in the hands of the financial elite that funds them. Over the last century, the Left have tended to harp on about the corruption of corporate and financial interests, while the Right have tended to harp on about the corruption of State interests.

Meanwhile, corporate interests have made the State corrupt by financing it, and the State has made corporations corrupt through corporatist law-making. The net effect is that the State has concentrated power, and the corporations — and in particular banks — have concentrated wealth. The rest of us have paid for it in liberty and wealth, respectively.

In the face of what has already been lost, those Blue Republicans who are becoming Republicans to ensure a Ron Paul presidency are not abandoning their personal disagreements with Dr. Paul on particular issues, such as abortion (which is the one on which this writer most profoundly disagrees with him). Rather, they are trying to make sure that we still have a recognizable country in which you get to have an argument over abortion without having already given up your own personal liberty, property or knowledge that your country will only send your family members in uniform into battle out of necessity, and nothing but necessity.

Perhaps, then, the cause of the excitement about the “Blue Republican” idea is two-fold. First, the term has caught people’s imaginations because it subverts the paradigm that brought us here. Second, the stakes are high. In fact, they are the very highest stakes of all.

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  • It may sound crazy to hear Democrats urging fellow Democrats to register Republican for the purpose of voting for Ron Paul, but if there is any merit to the proposal, it is this: the Democratic Party has repeatedly sold out liberals on civil liberties and foreign policy.

    On civil liberties, Obama has repeatedly flip-flopped on the issue of medical marijuana, and under his watch, the DEA and Justice Department continue to prosecute Americans for medical marijuana in states in which medical marijuana is legal. Obama has also reauthorized the USA Patriot Act, permitted the indefinite detention of prisoners in Guantanamo, and signed off on the right of the federal government to target its own citizens for assassination.

    On foreign policy, Obama ordered the “surge” of 30,000 additional troops, has accelerated the dropping of drone missiles in Pakistan that begun under George W. Bush, and has involved the United States armed forced in Libya without a declaration of war–a clear violation of both the 1973 War Powers Resolution and the U.S. Constitution.

    On all of these issues, it can be argued that Ron Paul is far more “liberal” (in the classical sense of the word) than Obama.

    We have seen a clear pattern under Obama: more war and more civil liberties violations. But that won’t stop millions of “liberals” from voting for him in 2012.

  • superdestroyer

    The real solution to politics is for the Republicans to fold up and all of the current Republicans voting in the Democratic primary. There will fewer safe seats, racial pandering will not work as well, and the extreme will have less power.

    Saving the Democrats pick the Republican candidate creates the situation that curretnly exist in California where there are no competitive elections and zero possiblity of political solutions.

  • JSpencer

    Obama has acted in ways no principled democrat ever would have, for that I’m unlikely to forgive him. Meanwhile, the level of corruption and dysfunction in the republican party has been a dealbreaker pretty much since Watergate. That said, Ron Paul’s anti-choice position is absolutely not acceptable, especially coming from someone who professes to care about freedom and privacy. So who does that leave? Not bloody much.

  • @JSpencer

    What you say about his anti-choice position is entirely wrong.

    He is pro-choice in the sense of wanting people to make their own choice about abortion.

    He wants the Fed Govt out of it, allowing only states the right to make laws on abortion.

    He *personally* believes that human life should be protected from conception but he does not believe on imposing his beliefs on you or me, who both disagree with him on this issue..

    If that was the only issue that was stopping you vote for Ron Paul, and given how untainted Ron Paul is by corruption by the standards of either party, then welcome to the Re(EVOL)ut­ion 2012 as a Blue Republican­.

  • ShannonLeee

    Lets just bring back “Rockefeller Republicans”. I’ve used that phrase to label myself before…not that I can anymore with Rush and the TP leading the Rep. party, but there was a time….

  • jimmygee

    It’s an interesting article but smacks of paranoia being used as an endorsement for Paul. One could sit down, think and write 9 reasons why someone should vote for any person using the government and the controlling parties as the boogieman and scapegoat.

  • roro80

    Robin, that’s not a pro-choice position at all, for individuals living in states that are conservative. That just means that a bunch of states will make abortion illegal, the results of which will be that millions of women will be barred by their state government from recieving health care that they require. That’s not a pro-choice position. It’s an idealogical cop-out position of someone trying to get the votes of anti-choice people while maintaining a guise of libertarianism.

    For those Democrats who think that Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are actually important programs that shouldn’t go away — basically anyone who thinks that a social safety net is vital to a strong country — Ron Paul is also a disaster of a candidate.

  • @JSpencer

    The president doesn’t write laws. He can’t affect the legality of abortions.

  • roro80

    Well, hell, Prof, then let’s just put just anyone in the presidency, since the opinion of the president on policy has no effect.

    C’mon, man, you’re better than that.


    That’s not what Prof said, roro. Come on. You’re more honest than that.

  • The president has a great influence over policy, but not laws. He might even be able to make things more legal by pardoning convicts, but he can’t make things less legal.

  • roro80

    Hi Prof, Not single-handedly, but saying he has “can’t affect” it is incorrect. He has the largest bully pulpit possibly in the whole world. He appoints judges — SCOTUS and otherwise — who do, in fact, make and review the legality of laws. He has huge influence over what the legislature focuses on, especially when his own party is the majority. He has veto power. He has the power to focus on or not focus on DOJ issues involving the safety of doctors and their patients. The opinions the president has do matter on social issues, even if he cannot directly write legislation on the topic.

    And Logan — he said, and I quote, “He can’t affect the legality of abortions.” I just gave a handfull of reasons why that’s not true. And to be called out by someone with the intellectual dishonesty you display every day around here for my honesty? You’ve got some nerve.

  • JSpencer

    Robin, thanks for the correction, it’s appreciated.

  • The bully pulpit isn’t going to amount to much when almost everyone has already made up their mind. Veto power is good for discouraging changes, but it can’t create legislation.

    So, of the ones you mention, the most important would be the SCOTUS. On that front, it’s safe to say that he would be looking for libertarian-leaning judges, which by and large, resist making things illegal, and would prefer to keep unmentioned rights like the right to privacy intact.

  • roro80

    So, again, I guess in your view the president has no power over policy at all? I mean, that’s the argument you seem to be making. Why vote for Paul at all if he has no say in our personal liberties?

    Furthermore, I strongly disagree with all of your points. The bully pulpit can be huge if used skillfully — in either direction or, as with our current president, in no direction at all on this issue. To say simply that everyone’s made up their minds on this issue is not only incorrect, but ignores the fact that people change their minds based on facts and lies and religion and everything in between that they hear all the time, particularly when it comes the grey areas between, say, early-term abortion and abortion of fully-viable fetae with healthy mothers. Veto power is very important in the current climate when our legislators are pumping out anti-choice legislation like water from a well. If Paul is anti-choice and supposedly libertarian-leaning, there’s no reason why the libertarian-leaning judges he would appoint wouldn’t also share that view. In contrast, it’s fairly uncommon for a pro-choice pol to appoint strongly anti-choice judges.

    Again, if the president has no power to affect civil liberties law one way or the other, why even bother to vote?

  • I expect the president to have control of policy. I expect congress to have control of the the laws. I expect the dogcatcher to be in charge of animal control.

    I know everyone believes that the president can solve all of our economic, political, logistical, environmental, and sociological problems instantly and simultaneously, if only he wanted to, but that’s not reality. What he can do, is steer conversation, encourage or discourage agencies from doing their jobs, and pick leaders (particularly the Fed) that will influence our lives indirectly. He can also choose (rightly or wrongly) when to wage war and when to withdraw, whether to push the legal envelope on his powers or hamstring future presidents with extra transparency, and how to push the justice department on legal matters.

    Those are the things to consider when picking a president. When choosing a legislator, consider the law.

  • DLS

    If fidelity to the Constitution were stronger, the President would not have any influence over lawmaking at all, some of you need to know.

    * * *

    In the meantime, we have people who not merely shove constitutional federalism aside, but believe the federal government is a magic genie and the source of all motivation as well as sustenance, a substitute for the family, and they believe that the President is their parent as well as magic super-central element of the nation as some organism. (Organicism is a very old lefty and Western Civ concept about nations, and even the world in Lovelock’s case, not limited to collectivism as applied to everyday politics and related ideology. And the nucleus of the national organism is the Leader. As in Europe, so also in the USA with FDR in the 1930s carried to its farthest extent, though some groupies were competitive in 2008 with Obama. The President as personification of Rousseau’s “general will,” that is to say — if you can understand, and I’d expect many here to be able to do that.)

  • roro80

    Prof — Let’s back up. I was operating under the (evidently incorrect) assumtion that the connection betweeen the presidential opinion and laws, particularly those involving cultural and social issues, was pretty clear and obvious to most. (Whether one thinks it should be this way is an entirely different conversation.) That someone might say that the president’s preferred positions on such things is entirely without effect did not occur to me.

    Let’s just take one example. In his first term, Bush the Younger did a 50 state campaign to get laws and constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman passed in the states. Are you trying to tell me that his influence was inconsequential or merely coincidental to most states doing exactly that in the few years that followed, just because he did not physically write or vote on those laws? Let’s just say that, again, I strongly disagree with your points. I believe history strongly disagrees as well.

    Speaking of LGBT rights, it’s another area where Ron Paul’s actual position and voting record conflict dramatically with his supposedly libertarian view.

  • roro80

    “we have people who…”

    DLS, find me one. Otherwise, your entire following paragraph is one long-winded strawman.

  • Bush was an insider, with considerable party support. The movement that he was part of may have had influence, but it wasn’t Bush acting alone. Reagan had considerable influence in his party, but backed off very quickly when he attempted to change Social Security.

    Paul may be running as a Republican, but he does not have insider support. You might say that he gives the RINO idea a new meaning.

  • roro80

    Your statement was at least not explicitly about Paul — it said that the president can’t affect abortion law. Furthermore, the post is about how Democrats should join the Republican party in order to get Paul past the primaries, because he supposedly represents and would effect the values of many Democrats better than Obama. JSpencer brought up abortion as a counter to that claim, as a reason his values were not represented by Paul. One would hope that at least given all other things equal, if you care about the right to choose, having a president who also cares about the right to choose would be better than one who thinks that one shouldn’t have that right. Using your own logic, if one wanted to affect abortion laws to one’s own preference, one would not go with someone who is not an insider at all. One would want an insider who shares the individual voter’s views on that issue.

    My point: I, and many others currently registered as Democrats, would never switch over to vote for Paul because he does not reflect my values on some very important issues. Abortion is one of them.

  • I know that abortion law is important to you.

    My point is that the president’s effect on abortion is debatable, but his effect on issues like war, for instance, isn’t.

  • roro80

    I have no problem with that opinion, but it’s certainly a far site from “The president doesn’t write laws. He can’t affect the legality of abortions.” One might forgive someone for thinking that the original comment meant something dramatically different than the final conclusion you just made.

  • Not really. It seems obvious to me that a spokesperson is not the same as a dictator. Paul’s power would come from rejecting the talking points of both parties. Other presidents got their power from their coalitions.

  • roro80

    Right, because I was indicating that I thought presidents are dictators. And sorry, but the two statements do mean different things. The final conclusion is a fine statement, even if it doesn’t mean much to someone who cares greatly about domestic issues. The first comment was a falsehood. It just wasn’t a correct statement.

    Look, Prof, lots of Dems care about a number of issues on which Paul is just plain bad, and have good reasons to think he’s just plain bad. I know you <3 Ron Paul. I really really don’t, and I’m glad there’s no way he’s going to be our president. It’s not because I have an incorrect vision of what the president does or is, and it’s not because I just don’t understand Paul’s positions on the issues or what sort of president he might be. I understand these things as well as you do, thankyouverymuch, and I still think he’s just awful. You are free to feel differently, of course, but don’t insult my intelligence because I disagree with your adoration of this guy.

  • (sigh) It tough having a disagreement with you sometimes. I thought we were discussing the amount of influence that the president has on law. How you took that and made a chain to this insult completely befuddles me. I would ask how what made you think I meant that you didn’t understand his positions and all, but I’m tired of trying to play those mental olympics.

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