In theory I have the right to vote in the forthcoming US presidential primaries, although it remains to be seen whether I'll actually be able to exercise that right, because on previous occasions my requests for a ballot paper have only met with a 70-75% success rate. However, assuming I do get the opportunity, I'll be in the novel position of deciding who to vote for in the Republican primary - there's absolutely no point in participating in the Democratic ballot, because for better or worse it's a foregone conclusion that Barack Obama will be the candidate. So here's the dilemma : how do I go about deciding who is the least worst of all the extreme right-wing candidates vying for the presumptuous post of Global Emperor? Or should I even be trying to decide that? Should I instead vote for the most extreme candidate of the lot, to maximise Obama's chances of being re-elected?
Before my New Year's Resolution to stop posting at PB, I explained my dilemma over there. The poster Edmund of Tokyo had some very solid practical advice - I should plump for Rick Perry, because he has the dual attributes of being fundamentally unelectable, but also not the sort of chap who would blow up the world in the unlikely event that he is elected. This is a persuasive argument, but I'm actually coming round to the peculiar idea that I might vote for Ron Paul instead. I say 'peculiar' because in many ways he stands for all the things I most detest - abolition of what little there is of a welfare state in the US, completely unfettered gun ownership rights, etc, etc. But the beauty of a Paul candidacy would be the long-overdue airing of certain issues that will otherwise remain buried, ie. does the US have any right to maintain a global empire in the 21st Century? Is it really OK for it to carry out extra-judicial killings on other countries' sovereign territory? Should it stop and question its uncritical support for Israel once in a while?
And if the calamity happened and Paul actually was elected President, one point of reassurance is that he would have a relatively free hand to pursue his constructive agenda in the foreign policy sphere, but to some extent might be hampered by Congress in his attempts to leave the poor to starve.
All of this may be totally academic, of course, because if Mitt Romney wins the Iowa Caucuses today (Tuesday), the momentum behind him would probably be unstoppable, and the contest would be over before it really started.
NOTE : 'Vote for Ron' is slang for voting for no-one, or for 'none of the above' (RON stands for 're-open nominations').