In honor of Ron Paul’s historic defeat in the race for the Republican Presidential nomination, I present this classic video of him standing in front of a Confederate flag, declaring that the South was right in the Civil War, and stating that whether or not to ban slavery should have been left up to the states.
And in honor of scholarship and critical thinking, I will correct the summary of this video.
There’s a very simple reason that Ron Paul is never going to be President: He shows off his knowledge too much. I work in sales (as anyone who follows me is sick of hearing), and I know that you don’t throw facts at people. You hit their hotspots. But he loves his facts and wants other people to love them too. And I do love facts.
Let’s be clear here. Lincoln did not start the Civil War over slavery. He started it over secession. The southern states seceded, so he took the North and went to war with them. And then, because he was a Republican and Republicans were decent people back then, he emancipated the slaves.
Let’s also be clear on another issue: No candidate was totally pro-slavery at that time. Lincoln’s opponent ran on a platform of states’ rights, but what Ron Paul and Douglass both seem to forget is that the states’ ability to choose had been thrown out by SCOTUS a few years ago when a slave sued for his freedom. It was ruled that a slaveowner could take his slave to a free state and keep his ownership of that slave. Basically, that ownership in the southern states overruled freedom in the northern states. But Douglass ran on a platform of reversing that decision.
Now, with those in mind, let’s take a look at this video. What is Ron Paul actually saying? He’s saying, in a long-winded way, that he doesn’t like big government. He blames Lincoln for the overpowered government we have right now (personally, I would prefer to know who to blame for the overpowered big businesses, but I guess this is a start). Note that this is all based on a premise of the government as it stands being overpowered.
Why is it so important to him to invoke the South in this? Because the Civil War was the biggest demonstration of states’ rights this country has ever seen. It’s important to Ron Paul to use the South (well, he’s probablyin the South and using it as a rallying cry as well) because to him, the “consent of the governed” is the most important piece of government. He sees the government as too big and wants to scale it down.
And note something else—we’re the only ones who needed a war to get rid of slavery. In other words, he thinks we went the wrong way about it.
So. Is it scummy of him to use that example? Yes. Does it mean he’s a Confederate who wants to restore slavery? No.
Well, my phone died and ruined my post-bar plans, so I have time to explain why this is incredibly stupid.
You start off from the same position of ignorance occupied by Ron Paul: a combination of the assumption that slavery would have ended without war and the idea, spread through the propaganda of Southern revisionist historians, that the war was not about slavery. Now, Lincoln was not the abolitionist hero that he has been painted as by the victors of that war, but to say that he started the war or that it was about anything other than slavery at its core is absurd.
The first shots fired were by the South at the Union base at Fort Sumter. This came after the South seceded entirely because of slavery. The postbellum myth that the South had any other motives ignores the secession documents provided by each of the rebelling states, the Constitution of the Confederacy, and direct statements by such Confederate leaders as CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens, who stated that their government was the first in world history whose entire foundation rest upon the idea that the black man was inferior and that his rightful place was as a slave.
To suggest that Douglas (with one ‘s,’ not two as in Frederick Douglass) was opposed to the Dred Scott decision is equally absurd. Douglas, as the majority of the voting-eligible population of the South, was unquestionably pro-slavery and would not have stood against a decision that affirmed their belief that slaves were their property and that their property rights could not be abridged when crossing state lines.
Lincoln was an abolitionist, but not in favor of equal rights. In spite of his strong abolitionist views, which scared the South into seceding, he fought the Civil War only to bring the traitorous states back into the Union. However, this does not change the fact that the South seceded—and fired the shots that began the war—with a singular goal in mind: preserving slavery. To suggest that this should have been allowed to continue until the South felt like giving up their slaves is at best naive and at worst active support for chattel slavery, which is among the worst human rights violations in the history of mankind.
As far as how we got to where we are in terms of corporate control, that lineage is easy to trace. Nixon began the process of deregulating corporate law, although he was not particularly successful in that aim. Ronald Reagan truly started us on this path. He lowered corporate taxes, and he brought the rate on the top marginal tax bracket down from 70% to 28% while raising taxes on the middle class nearly every year of his term. Many small businesses were destroyed while the corporations we now see on top (Wal-Mart, for example) began to take over. George H.W. Bush continued on this path.
In the 1990s, Bill Clinton, for all his faults (see NAFTA and his mixed-bag handling of the Haiti situation), started us back on the right path. He raised taxes on the top bracket to 39.5% and supported the expansion of internet infrastructure. Sound fiscal policy (which boiled down to smart budgeting and the idea that we should save money while things are good economically so we can spend it when they’re bad) and the web boom carried us through the politically-tumultuous ’90s. The last years of his term saw the first budget surplus in decades, and we were on track to pay off our national debt. However, the bill that destroyed our economy, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, passed in 1999 with bipartisan support and was signed by Clinton before he left office. Gramm-Leach-Bliley repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956. This allowed investment banks, insurance companies, securities companies, and savings and loan banks to merge, among other things.
While the bill was going through Congress, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) stated that this would lead to companies being “too big to fail.” Seven years later, he was proven correct. The problem was exacerbated by Bush 43’s decision to spend the surplus by sending every taxpayer a check, increase defense spending, and cut taxes. When things went south economically, we didn’t have the money to cover it. And when the megacorps created by the mergers allowed by GLB started to fail, we had to pass the bailout and spend money we didn’t have to prevent America from descending into a third-world hellhole.
The political and corporate climate since the economic crash has been similar to that after Black Tuesday. In trying to solve the problem, we saw (and are continuing to see) unscrupulous corporate influences attempting to gain money and influence by using both equally-unscrupulous and incredibly naive politicians to reshape our laws in a way more supportive to their bottom line. We are also seeing well-meaning politicians fail to convince the public that government can solve the problem after thirty years of the government stepping further and further back and allowing these companies to cause the problem. The twenty-four hour news cycle has not helped.
The solution to the problem of corporate influence and the economic crisis is not politically expedient at this time. Essentially, we need to reinstate Glass-Steagall and split these companies back up, Teddy Roosevelt style. We need to raise the top marginal bracket to 45% and lower the other brackets by 5-10% to encourage spending. We need to raise the capital gains tax to 30-35%. We need to get rid of all loopholes in both income and corporate tax codes. We need to legalize all drugs, mandating rehab for problem cases (the same way people can be involuntarily committed to mental institutions), regulate them, and tax them. We need to improve our infrastructure, both physical and technological, to encourage innovation and productivity. We need single-payer health care, which will save all citizens and businesses of all sizes (except, of course, for health insurance companies) money and increase our standard of living in several metrics (life expectancy, infant mortality, occurrence of preventable diseases). We need to improve social programs and do what we can to promote real equality instead of paying lip service to it like we have been.
Hopefully, I won’t have to run on this platform in 2024.
Stevie McFly for everything.
Reblogged from ro-s-aspa-rks.
August 26, 2012, 8:07am 435 notes