Now, I know that the Republican party stinks to many Democrats and Independents who care about social justice and civil rights, but we all need to be smart and play the system to get the political outcomes we seek: you don't have to like a party or even identify with it to sign up as a Republican for a year to help make sure that the Republican primaries are won by the one representative who has always been for peace, has always voted against bailouts, and has always opposed the reach of government into your bedroom, your relationships and your person.
And if you are a Democrat or socially progressive Independent, you can't tell me you weren't hoping for all that from Obama.
Perhaps you see too much small-mindedness, or mean spirit or religious craziness in the Republican party. Sure you do. You can find all of them in spades. But since you can't change the Democrat ticket for 2012, why not act where you can make a positive change -- by telling the Republican party where you really want it to go... in the direction of peace and civil liberty (both of which, if you go back just a little way, can be found in the traditions of republicanism).
Just in case you need to make it absolutely clear for your friends at work that you have not gone to the dark side, I offer you a special moniker to set yourselves apart and give yourself a way back once you've done what needs to be done -- the "Blue Republican" -- to signify, of course, your liberal sensibilities and perhaps even your history as a Democratic voter. (Or why not just tell your friends that Bill Maher and Jon Stewart seem to have already gotten the message?)
I am aware that the main objection to Ron Paul from the left concerns his belief that private charities and individuals are more effective in maintaining social welfare than the government. To this I ask one question. Do you believe so much in the effectiveness of our current centralized delivery of social welfare that it is worth the war making and the abrogation of civil rights supported by both Bush and Obama's administrations? Moreover, while Ron Paul would look to transition out of the huge federally run welfare programs in the long-run, that's not where he wants to start: his immediate fight would be to bring our forces back to the USA and to re-implement the Bill of Rights.
Ron Paul's electoral weakness is not a difficulty in winning a presidential election. It is in winning a primary in a party with a Conservative constituency that includes the religious right and neo-cons. An influx of peace and freedom-loving independents and Democrats would change the math on the Republican side and potentially the future of America by setting up a presidential contest with a pro peace, pro-civil rights candidate (who could outflank Obama on those issues, at least, from the left).
Again, this isn't an endorsement of the Republican party or a claim that the Republican record is better than the Democrat on any of the issues discussed in this article. (It isn't.) It is not even a statement that Dr. Paul is some kind of panacea of American politics. Rather, it is to recognize simply that the one potential Presidential candidate who wishes to stop killing innocent people in foreign wars and stop transferring the wealth of poor and working Americans to the corporate elites happens to be -- this time around -- a Republican.
It is also to recognize that any other political choice is for a status quo in which all the issues that really matter (war and peace, civil rights) are settled for the military industrial complex and the interests of the State over the individual.
So what'll it be -- same old team allegiance or new, Blue Republicans?
Follow Robin Koerner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rkoerner