In Defense of Rand Paul

Monday, May 31, 2010

For those students who may not keep themselves informed about Senate primary races in other states, please excuse the brevity of the following summary: Dr. Rand Paul, son of Congressman Ron Paul, recently mopped the floor with his primary opponent, neoconservative and Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

Having personally volunteered on behalf of Dr. Paul’s campaign, I couldn’t help but be concerned when I noticed that weasel-turned-CNN commentator Paul Begala could hardly contain his excitement over Paul’s primary win.

I knew they had something, and, as it turns out, Begala is now using Dr. Paul’s name to help him fundraise.

The very next day, it just so happened that a video interview was leaked, which showed Rand Paul criticizing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That same night, in what can only be considered a public relations gaffe, Dr. Paul appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show to defend himself. What happened is what everyone in his campaign should have expected—she spent the entire interview trying to get Dr. Paul to admit he thought segregated restaurants were perfectly acceptable. The issue itself was settled when Rand Paul was an infant, and has nothing to do with his campaign. This was all a ploy—a fairly smart one, I must admit—to link a self-described “tea party” candidate to a racial issue. After all, as we all know, Tea Parties are actually clandestine Klan meetings.

Of course, the absurd implication of all of this is that Rand Paul is a racist, or somehow endorses racism. The fact of the matter is, Dr. Paul is one in a line of civil libertarians who have been responsible for much of the progress in equal rights through U.S. history. Many of the American abolitionists, such as Lysander Spooner and Henry David Thoreau, by today’s standards, would be considered radical libertarians, though to label them as such would be anachronistic. It was this same sense of civil libertarianism that inspired the civil rights marches and boycotts of the mid-20th century.

It was actually the practice of the free market, in the form of bus boycotts, which helped overturn segregationist laws in the South. Yes, instead of heroic laws being passed to quell the malevolence of the free market, it was effective civil disobedience that overturned immoral laws. In fact, that is mainly what the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did—overturn racist and segregationist laws. Even if this law were overturned today—which it never would be—I do not think anyone will argue with the assertion that businesses that discriminate for racial or other currently illegal reasons would be scarce, if they existed at all.

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