The Right Argument On Rand Paul
Some people have the incorrect impression of what the problem surrounding this issue is. No one is arguing that Rand Paul would actively seek to curtail or turn back the Civil Rights Act or any other individual protection laws. What people are doing is looking into the man’s ideology and beliefs because they are largely unknown to most people, even in Kentucky. This is the kind of reporting that should be done to every single possible representative, especially if they have beliefs and espouse an ideology that is far outside of the mainstream. If Rand Paul wins the general state Senate election and Kentucky chooses him to represent them after his beliefs are exposed, it can be and will be argued that the state of Kentucky chose him partly based on his ideology. If this is the case, it’s a win for Libertarianism.
I find it striking people complain about Obama picking someone for the Supreme Court who is a veritable blank slate yet defend the news media’s attempt to dig into the ideology of someone who actually makes laws instead of merely unmaking them as the courts do. It is mostly the left that is attacking Obama for picking someone who is effectively a blank slate on paper—and they’re attacking him for this because people’s beliefs and ideology is something absolutely vital to making an electoral decision.
The problem with Rand Paul’s ideology is that it is practically flawed. Paul believes that the invisible hand would self-correct segregation as it would be economically sound yet, as Bruce Bartlett explains, that is absolutely untrue.
As we know from history, the free market did not lead to a breakdown of segregation. Indeed, it got much worse, not just because it was enforced by law but because it was mandated by self-reinforcing societal pressure. Any store owner in the South who chose to serve blacks would certainly have lost far more business among whites than he gained. There is no reason to believe that this system wouldn’t have perpetuated itself absent outside pressure for change.
Perhaps Rand Paul isn’t a racist. I would never suggest that to be the case as his reasoning, while flawed, is not based necessarily on racism but on something else. He, at least, has made sure to repeat that in his interviews. It’s more serious than that: he is blinded by extremist ideology. He is so stuck in his Ayn Rand-inspired, Libertarian ideology that he doesn’t see the fault in his logic and that’s very serious and very dangerous.
That’s the type of thinking that forgets that segregation was absolutely real in 1964 and wasn’t going to change any time soon. The Civil Rights Act was enacted to make that change come rapidly instead of maybe happening some time in the distant future. People who argue that the invisible hand will take care of it, that it’s economically logical to get rid of segregation, and that it would go away on its own forget that segregation existed for almost a hundred years after slavery was abolished. A hundred years! The invisible hand either didn’t care to fix that or wasn’t going to. The Civil Rights Act was passed to counter a real problem at the time. Paul can argue that it shouldn’t have been passed in hindsight but the reality of the matter is that it should have been passed in order to get rid of both institutional and private segregation. The ability to self-segregate is still there, as evident in Robert Weissberg’s story in the Libertarian webzine Taki’s Magazine’s; the ability to segregate others from one’s establishment, however, is not justifiable. The US let the states decide on civil rights for decades and they decided not to do anything about it so the federal government took action. It had to in order to get rid of private segregation. Parts of the US would still be segregated today if it wasn’t for that.
Bruce Bartlett continues:
In short, the libertarian philosophy of Rand Paul and the Supreme Court of the 1880s and 1890s gave us almost 100 years of segregation, white supremacy, lynchings, chain gangs, the KKK, and discrimination of African Americans for no other reason except their skin color. The gains made by the former slaves in the years after the Civil War were completely reversed once the Supreme Court effectively prevented the federal government from protecting them. Thus we have a perfect test of the libertarian philosophy and an indisputable conclusion: it didn’t work. Freedom did not lead to a decline in racism; it only got worse.
If Rand Paul were saying that he agrees with the Goldwater-Rehnquist-Bork view that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unconstitutional and that the Supreme Court was wrong to subsequently find it constitutional, that would be an eccentric but defensible position. If he were saying that the Civil Rights Act were no longer necessary because of the great strides we have made as a country in eradicating racism, that would also be defensible. But Rand’s position is that it was wrong in principle in 1964.
This is the basic problem with Rand Paul’s beliefs. He believes that it was wrong in principle in 1964. In other words, he would have fought against limiting segregation in private businesses if he had been in the Senate in 1964. This kind of information is vital in understanding the practicality of Rand Paul’s Libertarian beliefs—a radical set of beliefs and an ideology that is both grounded not in practicality but in ineffective and unreasonable platitudes. The issue isn’t necessarily about the Civil Rights Act; it’s about the fundamentals of the Rand Paul mindset. How Rand Paul would represent the people of Kentucky is indivisible from his beliefs and ideology and that is absolutely important as part of the people of Kentucky’s decision to choose him or to dump him.