Paul and Grayson: A cure for 'bipartisanship'

From the far end of each wing of the House of Representatives, an unholy alliance has emerged.


In February, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, introduced HR 1207, a bill to audit the Federal Reserve System, a semi-private banking system with an enormous amount of control over American monetary policy. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla, jumped on as one of its early co-sponsors and strongest advocates.

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You might remember Paul from his bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. A paleoconservative with libertarian leanings, Paul campaigned on a platform of personal responsibility, smaller government and strict constitutionalism.


You might also know Grayson from his bombastic, angry calls for health care reform, including a YouTube video summarizing the Republican health care plan: ""Don't get sick. And if you do get sick, die quickly.""


What could these two have in common? More than you'd think. Paul has opposed the Federal Reserve system for years, and Grayson has used his skills as a prosecutor to make Fed officials all the way up to Chairman Ben Bernanke wet themselves in hearings. They both dislike the secrecy and underhandedness with which the Fed conducts business.


The importance of HR 1207 can't be overstated. The Fed is allowed to create money essentially ex nihilo and lend it to whomever they desire — and the most anyone usually hears about it is in Bernanke's infrequent, cryptic testimony before House and Senate committees.


But on a political level, HR 1207's support from libertarian conservatives like Paul as well as liberal progressives like Grayson — people whom I am going to collectively refer to as ""libs"" from here on out — reflects collaboration between seeming ideological opposites to combat common enemies.


Paul's ultimate goals include the abolition of the Fed in favor of a return to the gold standard. Grayson's objectives are more explicitly populist and focus on punishing the ""crooks"" who've run off with our money. And they're not the only two advocates of fiscal transparency; many fringe politicians from conservative Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md, to socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, who introduced the Senate partner to the bill, have hopped on board.


These folks don't agree on everything. They don't even agree on much.


But they don't have to in order to fight together. ""The enemy of my enemy is my friend,"" as the old saying goes.


It should be noted that this sort of collaboration is the polar opposite of what Congress and the media regularly praise as ""bipartisanship"".


Sometimes, this term refers to gutting useful legislation to earn the support of a few extra Congressmen. HR 3200, the ""landmark"" health care bill passed by the House, arguably suffered from this process, but HR 1207 may regrettably follow in its footsteps.


Other times, it refers to milquetoast ""moderation,"" a form of apologetics for the status quo. This characterizes most of Congress; the greatest offender is probably Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn, who has a spine made of spaghetti and similarly strong scruples.


And the rest of the time, it appears to describe Washington when, in fits of fear and stupidity, both parties approve very bad legislation. Never forget that the invasion of Iraq, the Patriot Act and the infamous $700 billion bailout enjoyed ""bipartisan"" support.


The alliance among libs is none of these things. The liberal and libertarian visions for America couldn't be more different, but we must fight the same Jabberwockies no matter which path we take — and we should do so together.


We'll probably never come to a consensus about the government's role in health care. But the deep, loving relationship between Congress and the health care oligopolies stands in the way of both market- and government-based methods of bettering health insurance.


We don't agree regarding how taxes ought to be structured. But excise and sales taxes represent an attempt by the nanny state to regulate personal behavior. They're also regressive, unfairly targeting lower-income Americans who spend a large proportion of their money on consumables.


We might not all want the government to fight climate change in the same way. But cap-and-trade is laughably inefficient and, as Matt Taibbi suggested in a July Rolling Stone article, it may lead to yet another bank-engineered financial bubble.


The list goes on. The ""wars"" on terror and drugs. The sprawl of the military- and prison-industrial complexes which rely on these wars. The illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The even more illegal bombings of Pakistan. The expansion of the executive privilege and state secrets doctrines, and with it the erosion of our civil liberties. The government-aided wealth transfer from the rest of us to the rich.


These things are all part of that ""bipartisan"" consensus. But if the $400,000 money bomb Grayson enjoyed on November 2, as well as the fundraising records Paul shattered during his Presidential campaign, have anything to say about it, they might not have to stay that way for long. They'll be far less likely to if we ""libs"" of all stripes can maintain our unholy alliance in other political wars.


After all, when you're facing a Jabberwocky, two vorpal swords are better than one.



— Taylor Kessinger is a former Daily Wildcat columnist. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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