Tuesday, January 3, 2012

ACLU: Ron Paul is more progressive than Obama

Ron Paul supporters claim that Rep. Paul is the only candidate who represents a change from what they see as the almost identical policies of Presidents Obama and Bush. A closer look reveals that just the opposite is true. Not only are the policies of President Obama starkly different from those of President Bush on most issues, but the platform of Rep. Paul is almost identical to that of President Obama in many key areas. A new report card by the American Civil Liberties Union, Liberty Watch 2012, ranks Paul higher than Obama on a host of progressive and anti-war issues.

The area where President Obama and Ron Paul are the most alike is on foreign policy. Both seem to share the conviction that the United States is to blame for many of the world’s problems. Obama said in 2009 that “America has shown arrogance.” In many other statements, he has made clear his belief that the U.S. does not have the moral authority to lead the world. In a similar vein, Ron Paul stated in a 2007 presidential debate on Fox News that the 9/11 attacks were “blowback” from U.S. interference in Middle Eastern politics.

Both Paul and Obama opposed the War on Terror. In 2001, Paul voted for the Authorization to Use Military Force (H.J.R. 64) in Afghanistan, but the next year he voted against the authorization to use force against Iraq (H.J.R. 114). More recently, Paul has called for an end to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and would like to have the U.S. exit from the U.N.

For his part, President Obama also originally supported the war in Afghanistan while opposing the war in Iraq. In 2002, just prior to the congressional vote on Iraq, in a video on CNS News Obama said, “… After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again. I don't oppose all wars.  ... What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.”

A central part of Obama’s 2008 platform was the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. At the end of 2011, the last U.S. troops left Iraq on Obama’s orders. He is currently withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan with the last American soldier scheduled to leave in 2014 according to the New York Times. At the same time, Obama has stepped up drone attacks on terrorists, a policy which Ron Paul has criticized.

On the issue of gay rights, Ron Paul also shares similarities with President Obama. Paul was not in Congress in 1996 when Georgia’s Bob Barr (then a Republican, but now a Libertarian) sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act and President Clinton signed it into law. He did state on Fox News that he opposes a federal marriage amendment on the grounds that marriage is a religious and state issue and that the federal government should not be involved, although he did co-sponsor the Marriage Protection Act, which never became law. Paul was one of only 15 Republicans to vote for the repeal of “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell.”

President Obama has called the Defense of Marriage Act “unconstitutional” and instructed Attorney General Holder not to defend the law against legal challenges. Obama signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell” into law, and under his authority the Pentagon permitted military chaplains to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Hillary Clinton, Obama’s Secretary of State has said that U.S. policy is that “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

On a number of issues, Ron Paul is even farther to the left than President Obama. President Obama recently rebuffed a petition to legalize marijuana. Ron Paul advocates an end to the drug war, which he claims is rooted in racism. In a 2011 debate on Fox News, Paul also defended the legalization of prostitution. Paul would end all foreign aid. Paul voted against the PATRIOT Act. President Obama reauthorized the law in May 2011.

Ron Paul has criticized President Obama for the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who was a senior recruiter and theological leader of al Qaeda. Paul believes that Awlaki should have been given due process, even though he was beyond the reach of the American legal system in Yemen when he was killed in 2011.

Paul is also the only candidate of either party who does not believe that Iran’s nuclear program poses a threat to world peace. On December 30, 2011, Paul told ABC News that “they [the Iranians] don’t threaten our national security,” in spite of the recent revelations of an Iranian plot to plant a bomb in a Washington, D.C. restaurant. President Obama has called a nuclear Iran “unacceptable” and pursued sanctions as a means of isolating that country. Ron Paul calls these sanctions an “act of war.”

Rep. Paul and President Obama travel on two different ideological roads, but they often reach the same destination. Often Paul is farther down the road than Obama. Perhaps that explains why more members of Occupy Atlanta favored Ron Paul than Obama.


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