The Ron Paul Phenomenon As A Sign of Anti-Big Government Sentiment

The New York Times Magazine has a lengthy article on Ron Paul, showing both his strengths and weaknesses. As I do not believe Paul has any realistic chance of winning either the Republican nomination or the general election, I’m less interested in what we learn about Paul as opposed to what we learn about America. This can be seen in the conclusion of the article:

Whatever the campaign purports to be about, the main thing it has done thus far is to serve as a clearinghouse for voters who feel unrepresented by mainstream Republicans and Democrats. The antigovernment activists of the right and the antiwar activists of the left have many differences, maybe irreconcilable ones. But they have a lot of common beliefs too, and their numbers — and anger — are of a considerable magnitude. Ron Paul will not be the next president of the United States. But his candidacy gives us a good hint about the country the next president is going to have to knit back together.

Ron Paul fills a gap left by the major candidates. The Republican Party has become completely taken over by authoritarian war mongers, with most of them also theocrats (or at least pandering to the religious right for support). While we do hear opposition to the Iraq war from the Democrats, there is less talk about civil liberties, limited action to hold Bush accountable for trampling on the Constitution, and the candidates totally run away from the concept of separation of church and state as they try to appear more religious in the hopes of picking up votes. On economic issues, there is the fear that The Wall Street Journal is right that Edwards “holds sway over party’s agenda.” (more…)

Endorsements in the Blogosphere

Yesterday Chris Bowers noted that most bloggers have not endorsed a candidate this year, with many responses throughout the liberal blogosphere, such as Fester at Newshoggers today. This is in contrast to last year when the blogosphere was often at war between different camps backing different candidates.

There are a number of reasons why this year is different–and the memories of the blog wars of 2003 might be one reason. As there are many different types of blogs which reflect a variety of viewpoints, there are actually a number of reasons for this.

Bowers looks at this more from the perspective of a big blogger with ties to the Democratic establishment, concentrating on reasons such as bloggers having ties to friends in multiple campaigns or not wanting to risk loss of access the campaigns of candidates opposing those they endorse. This may very well be true for some, but hardly applies to the many smaller bloggers who do not have these connections.

This is largely a sign of evolution of the blogosphere. In 2003 bloggers were primarily the small guys who were outraged by the Bush administration and the war. Howard Dean managed to obtain the support of many due to channeling this frustration. Even those of us who ultimately backed other candidates were primarily looking towards the 2004 election, which meant supporting a candidate to run against Bush.

We lost in 2004, but the blogosphere went on. Bloggers increasingly saw themselves not as simply campaigning against George Bush but as building an alternative media to counter the right wing noise machine’s hold on the mainstream media. The focus was no longer on backing a particular candidate but to make our own noise about the types of stories the mainstream media had ignored during Bush’s first term. By that measure we were a success, as the media no longer acts as lap dogs to the Bush administration and their failings have increasingly dominated the news. (more…)

Why Richardson Has Moved into Third Place in New Hampshire


The big political news of the past week was Bill Richardson moving into third place in New Hampshire. While most who are aware of him realize that Richardson is far more qualified than the initial three in the top tier, many ignored him after he had mediocre showings in the debates and on Meet the Press.

Richardson is gaining in support on a grass roots level in situations where he has more than a brief sound bite to present his positions. The video above of Richardson campaigning in New Hampshire makes it clear why he’s moved into third, and why it is too early to write off his candidacy.

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American Theocracy As Viewed From Europe

The BBC is airing a two part documentary on religion and politics in the United States on the BBC World Service’s Heart and Soul program on July 21 and 28. They present an overview in an article entitled, Must The US President Believe in God? The article notes both the evangelical support for George Bush and the attempts by the current Democratic candidates to attract religious votes. They note the potential risks to the Democrats (as I also discussed recently):

But in purely electoral terms, there is a danger for Democratic candidates in lunging too far towards the faithful, and away from the secular, non-religious voter.

John Green is the senior fellow in religion and American politics at the Pew Forum, in Washington DC. He said: “It’s possible that too much talk of religion might drive those votes away.”

Religion has also played a factor in local elections. They report on Colorado businessman Dave Habecker who has been on the town council for thirteen years but objected when they began reciting the pledge of allegiance at council meetings as the pledge contains the phrase Under God.”

Mr Habecker refused to stand and recite the pledge, and after being branded unpatriotic, was forced to enter a fresh election contest to remove him from office. He lost by some 300 votes.

I don’t know that anybody feels elated that I was removed from office for this reason,” he told the programme.

“Deep down they know that I was removed for my religious beliefs, which is anti-American. We brag about being the freest country in the world. Why do we coerce our citizens to stand and recite a pledge of allegiance? It’s a paradox.”

Update: Here’s the response which politicians should give when asked to discuss religion when campaigning.
Related Stories:

Changing Attitudes on Religion in Politics
George Bush, Christian Crusader

If We Only Had A President Who Understands Religion and Government