Two recent blog posts highlight for me the complexity and frustration with the 2008 election.
Lee Irons comments on the matter of executive power:
It’s disappointing that so few Republicans seem to care [about it] , but traditionally conservatives have been the ones upholding the Constitution, limiting presidential power, and defending civil liberties and the rule of law.
One place you really see this is the way Ron Paul gets treated by the Republican establishment. Just read a few pro-Republican pundits, and you'll see it soon enough. Paul is usually dismissed rather quickly under the conservative rhetoric that he is anti-American, anti-military, anti-War on terror, or (the really popular one) just too radical in his politics to be a true Republican.
Such 'radical' remarks about Paul actually tell you more about the political machine than Paul himself. Paul's message is frankly very simple -- it is pro-free market, pro-Constitution, and anti-government across the board. In other words, Paul is just too libertarian for the big-government ideology on the 'left'...and the increasingly big-government agenda on the 'right'! A great example of this is the way Republican diehards criticize Paul's consistent opposition to the Iraqi occupation. Note the way Paul gets lumped in with the leftist, anti-war machine; for some reason, it never really occurs to these people that Paul's rationale has absolutely nothing to do with leftist politics. His rationale for opposing Iraq (as far as I can tell) is: (a) we're involved in a prolonged conflict that really amounts to an unconstitutional 'war' and (b) it's costing the country billions of dollars to fund it.
The reason why Paul's message sounds too radical for people is because we've become too accustomed to letting big government run our lives...and that goes for Democrats and Republicans.
A great example of the 'big government' establishment surfaced in the aftermath of the Bhutto assassination. Kim Riddlebarger was particularly 'disgusted' with the way the candidates from both sides of the fence handled themselves:
Is anyone else as as disgusted as I am at all the presidential campaigns for using the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto as a way to shamelessly tout their own supposed foreign policy credentials?
These guys (and a gal) have spent the last two days knocking each other over to get before a camera or a mic to pontificate about something they obviously know very little about. Unless you are already in the White House and privy to hard intelligence, you probably don't know squat about what really happened and who did the dastardly deed....
And we wonder why less than 50% of Americans vote? The cynicism shown by the lot of them is disgusting to me. And just why is it that we are going through this eleven months before the election?
As Riddlebarger remarks, Paul's response makes the most sense -- "We should mind our own business and stay out of supporting military dictators." No political spin....and (more importantly!) just good economics. And yet again, Paul gets blasted by the 'neocons' for being anti-American and anti-military because Paul is critical of American foreign policy.
I don't agree with everything Paul says, but his message has a near-brutal consistency to it that is very appealing.....and no one in either party likes it.