With the U.S. presidential primaries less than a week away, we feel we need to write about them. We’ve got a few weeks worth of posts, analyzing the issues that On Violence focuses on, like foreign policy, the military and civil liberties. Those issues, though, are firmly global/international/foreign in nature. No taxes, economics, or social issues here.
Also, we’re going to tell you who we think you should vote for. Kind of. (During the last election, we just wrote about the candidates, and endorsed Obama without directly saying so.)
Before we get into everything else, we need to disclose our politics, since those will, no doubt, shape who we think you should vote for. We’re going to put our cards on the table and say, “We’re Democrats.”
Michael C used to be a Republican. Or, at least, a moderate Republican (I mean, he grew up in California), the type of person the chattering classes endlessly praised as being the core of American politics ten or fifteen years ago. Even Eric C, an avowed socialist, could respect his balance on a number of issues, modeled after our father’s guidance that conservatism was rooted in “slow change”, a variation on Burke’s original conservative argument for tradition.
Eric C, on the other hand, went to college, and became an activist and a socialist.
It’s safe to say, we’re both firmly big D, Democrats now. For Eric C, this might be considered a moderating of his own beliefs--Thanks, Nader, for Florida in 2000!--based on electoral pragmatism. For Michael C, many of his positions haven’t changed, but really, the Republican party left him, or failed to change with the times with the rest of the country.
So take everything we have to say about the Republican candidates with that grain of salt. We still think readers will find it valuable to read our thoughts on which Republican candidate is actually the best on the (unique) issues we care about. So on the issues, which candidate do we support?
The On V Republican Endorsement is: Rand Paul
That’s right, we endorsed a candidate who has toyed with the Gold Standard. (Remember, as we wrote above, we’re not looking at domestic policy.)
To figure our endorsement, we first tried to identify any “no-Go’s”. If a candidate advocated for one of those, how could we endorse them? The one we could settle on was advocating war crimes. Being belligerent is one thing, advocating the slaughter of innocents is unconstitutional, unethical, immoral and just wrong. So Ted Cruz and Donald Trump were eliminated. (We’ll elaborate in a later post.)
The other values were as follows:
- Less war is better than more war.
- Strong civil liberties is better than hurting civil liberties. (In fact, we like the whole Constitution a bunch.)
- A smaller military and intelligence community is a good thing.
- Diplomacy equals good.
- Foreign aid is Grrrrr-eat!
Only the last criteria saw universal agreement between the Republican candidates. Even Rand Paul hates foreign aid.
But on the other points Paul takes issue with some of his fellow candidates. His opposition to warrantless surveillance in unparalleled. And while On Violence loves global integration, we hate war more. On that we agree with Rand Paul. (He opposes most wars; he also opposes diplomacy and international institutions too.)
The thing is, none of the candidates are international relations liberals. They are realists, or neo-cons or, in some cases, pseudo-imperialists. At least Rand Paul’s isolationism (a proper use of the term, though he disputes it) is the least harmful. In reality, we think he is a traditional foreign policy realist, which we respect. (Though his domestic policies are abysmal and terrifying, they're so unrealistic as to be non-threatening, kind of like Bernie Sanders’ stances.)
In the coming weeks, we’ll analyze most of the Republican candidates in the context of the major issues of On Violence--including ISIS, Syria, World is Getting Safer, ROE and more--mainly to show them wanting.
The On V Democratic Endorsement is: TBD
Remember, domestic policy and foreign policy rarely align. If you exclude domestic policy from this discussion--and as we said above, we are--in many ways Rand Paul is a better choice to lead our country than Hillary Clinton. (Believe me, this hurt Eric C just to type that.)
To sum up, in our view, Bernie Sanders is unelectable and has no foreign policy experience. No one knows who Martin O’Malley is. Hillary’s foreign policy is abysmal, for the exact opposite reasons Republicans say. She’ll likely intervene in places we don’t want and she doesn’t have a great record on civil liberties. It is unclear if she is an international relations liberal.
Arguably Sanders is the best choice, but it is debatable, since his track record on foreign policy is slim. (We do appreciate his focus on global warming as the largest threat facing humanity.)
So we’re not endorsing a Democrat. If you’re a Democrat, consider your choice, as far as foreign policy goes, basically moot.
That said, if this is still a race in March, we’ll consider endorsing someone.