Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

May 22, 2010

Comment of the Day: The ‘Why Politics Sucks’ Edition

by Stephen Littau

Re: Rand Paul Under Attack from the Left for his ‘Lunch Counter Libertarianism’

This is why politics sucks. When you actually consider what the significance of Paul’s very nuanced view on this is and then juxtapose over what his potential duties as Senator would be, you quickly come to the correct conclusion that this matter means absolutely nothing.

He will be voting on budgets, taxes, appropriations and so on. And yet, while we can debate whether or not it is good or wise or prudent to have so much money and influence voted on in DC (I am opposed), the fact that such a decision about who should be qualified to do all this voting on behalf of the citizens of KY would be seriously and deliberately dumbed down to this irrelevant gotcha argument about civil rights and federal power is just frightening and simply further proof to how bad this process is.

Comment by John V — May 20, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

I think John V did a better job of making this point than I did. What Rachel Maddow was trying to do was use this gotcha play straight out of the Left’s playbook. Anyone who has libertarian leanings who wishes to run for office should be advised that because you have these leanings, you will be asked about your thoughts on the Civil Rights Act, particularly the title that deals with private businesses.

When I watched this interview, at first I was frustrated that Dr. Paul didn’t go into a more detailed explanation of this position that I admit is out of the mainstream* of modern political thought. Why did he keep going back to the gun argument** and why did he focus so much on the other nine titles that he, Maddow, and probably most who have libertarian leanings agree upon?

While I still believe Dr. Paul could have made a more persuasive argument or explained his position better, it has since occurred to me why he chose to respond as he did: he didn’t want to give his opponents too many sound bytes that could be used for attack ads.

Paul’s opponents, if they haven’t already, are busy producing negative campaign ads showing segregated lunch counters and juxtaposing his worst picture they can find next to Bull Connor’s. They will no doubt make the claim that Rand Paul wants to ‘turn back the clock’ on civil rights even though he has repeatedly said that the matter has been settled and that he would do no such thing***.

Rather than have an honest debate about this particular point, this kind of manipulation is what the debate is going to be reduced to.

John V is quite correct: This is why politics suck.


*I would point out that just because an idea is ‘out of the mainstream’ (or as some would say, ‘extreme’) doesn’t make it wrong. I would also say that just because an idea is popular doesn’t make it right. There have been many popular ideas throughout human history that are morally repugnant.

**The right for business owners to prohibit customers from bringing guns into their establishments is a very valid argument.

There was a sign in this one bar in Arizona I went to several years ago that read: “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason; we don’t care who your daddy is” (or something to that effect). Now suppose that some hate group wants to patronize this establishment (i.e. neo-Nazis, the KKK, Westboro Baptist Church…take your pick). Shouldn’t the owner of the establishment have a right to enforce his or her policy? I don’t know about you but I certainly wouldn’t want to be forced to associate with these people.

***Has Dr. Paul even said that he would have voted against the Civil Rights Act? I don’t think he has really said one way or the other. What he has said is that he agrees in principle with nine of the ten titles and ‘hadn’t read the whole thing.’

And why should he have? He wasn’t in a position to vote on the legislation. He may have decided to compromise and vote in favor of the bill or he may have decided the one title was too much of a bitter pill to swallow. We will probably never know.

What we do know is that the Civil Rights Act was opposed mostly by Democrats from the South. Among them were Al Gore’s father, Bill Clinton’s mentor J. William Fulbright, and current Democrat Senator and former KKK member Robert Byrd. Why is it that the only person we normally hear criticized for voting against the act is Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater? If not for the help of Republicans in congress, the Civil Rights Act would never have passed.

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  • Mike

    How can you make the claim that Rand Paul might never come across bills that are similar in nature to the Civil Rights Act? That had to go through Congress, as did the American With Disabilities Act, which he abhors. He will be conducting hearings on a host of issues, not just budgets and taxes. How he feels about the role of government in today’s society matters an enormous amount; it’s how you can distinguish him from his opponent, Mr. Conway. I don’t think Rand Paul is a racist, and I think the points he makes are thought-provoking and interesting. But don’t blame Rachel Maddow for pushing Paul on his views that she (and I think most people, judging from the national response) view as outside the so-called mainstream of American dialogue. After all, he could have just not been on the program, or stopped talking at any point. I don’t think anyone was tying him down.

    The point is that we’ve already seen Paul come out and say that he now supports federal intervention in discrimination matters, which is a total 180 from his original position. It will be interesting to see how much he has to sell his positions out to get elected to the Senate. The Tea Party already got a bust with Scott Brown, who could have voted no on financial reform and stopped the train, but instead voted yes. Wonder if Rand will be forced to run from them even before he makes it to Washington.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Stephen Littau

    Mike,

    I abhor the ADA as well. I also abhor the idea that states can tell business owners that their customers cannot smoke in their establishments.

    And yes, Dr. Paul would vote on future legislation (NOT established law such as the Civil Rights Act) that deals with private property regulations.

    For me this is less about Dr. Paul than it is the principle we are discussing; he very well could be a bust.

    My questions is: What part of *private* property do you not understand?

  • http://www.kipesquire.net KipEsquire

    Four letters: ENDA

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Stephen Littau

    Endangered Species Act? How did forget that!?

  • Butler T. Reynolds

    Is this really any different than conservatives telling us that we are sympathetic to terrorists or that we “blame America first” because we don’t agree with their foreign policy visions? Or that we think it’s ok for kids to use drugs because we don’t support prohibition? That’s pretty much what the GOP was saying about Rand Paul before the primary.

    I agree. Politics does suck.

  • http://www.markzonder.com/ Amy

    How can you make the claim that Rand Paul might never come across bills that are similar in nature to the Civil Rights Act? That had to go through Congress, as did the American With Disabilities Act, which he abhors. He will be conducting hearings on a host of issues, not just budgets and taxes. How he feels about the role of government in today’s society matters an enormous amount; it’s how you can distinguish him from his opponent, Mr. Conway. I don’t think Rand Paul is a racist, and I think the points he makes are thought-provoking and interesting. But don’t blame Rachel Maddow for pushing Paul on his views that she (and I think most people, judging from the national response) view as outside the so-called mainstream of American dialogue. After all, he could have just not been on the program, or stopped talking at any point. I don’t think anyone was tying him down.

    The point is that we’ve already seen Paul come out and say that he now supports federal intervention in discrimination matters, which is a total 180 from his original position. It will be interesting to see how much he has to sell his positions out to get elected to the Senate. The Tea Party already got a bust with Scott Brown, who could have voted no on financial reform and stopped the train, but instead voted yes. Wonder if Rand will be forced to run from them even before he makes it to Washington.

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