The Minutemen go to the polls
I REALLY appreciated the recent articles in Socialist Worker about Ron Paul and what a mistake it is to look to his campaign as an alternative this election year.
In fact, I was amazed when I first came across the arguments that progressives like Josh Frank and Stan Goff have made about Paul. At least from the perspective of living in Arizona, there is only one conclusion you can draw about the Paul campaign and the people he is attracting.
For example, the many Paul signs scattered across the metro Phoenix area make no reference to his position on Iraq. Instead, the spray-painted banners are all about his anti-abortion, anti-immigrant positions. The printed signs blare out "Freedom" and "Who is Ron Paul," an obvious reference to ultra-reactionary Ayn Rand and her novel Atlas Shrugged.
The Paul campaign has even adapted to the Super Bowl hype, as the game was here in Phoenix. These spray-painted signs merged Paul's image with the New England Patriots' logo and read "Ron Paul: Patriot."
More important, the only rallies where Paul supporters can be seen are the almost-weekly standoff over immigrant rights in front of a Phoenix furniture store. The parking lot in front of the store has been a place for day laborers to congregate to look for work. Last fall, the storeowners started to hire off-duty sheriff's department officers to "protect" their customers by harassing the day laborers off the site.
Immigrant rights activists began to protest in front of the store, demanding that the owners stop hiring the officers, and that the city open a day-laborer center in the area. Over time, the Minutemen and other anti-immigrant bigots showed up to confront the day laborers and their supporters. From time to time, it is with the bigots that you see the Ron Paul signs.
For those of us who supported Ralph Nader in the 2000 elections, we often explained our support for him in terms of "the global justice movement going to the polls"--that his campaign was a chance to connect anti-globalization activism to building an alternative to a two-party duopoly.
Well, at least to judge from Arizona, the only way you can understand the Paul campaign is "the Minutemen going to the polls."
Not only is this not the basis to form a progressive alternative to politics as usual, but supporting the Paul campaign in this state actually would only give more credibility to the most reactionary and the most bigoted ideas. There isn't enough lipstick in the world to make that pig any less ugly than it already is.
Jeff Bale, Phoenix