Randslide and Its Discontents

Frank Rich discusses Rand Paul, and Paul’s hard-core Libertarianism:

Everybody's Gonna Be Happy

Paul is articulate and hard-line. When he says he is antigovernment, he means it. Unlike McConnell, he wants to end all earmarks, including agricultural subsidies for a state that thrives on them. (He does vow to preserve Medicare payments, however; they contribute to his income as an ophthalmologist.) He wants to shut down the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve. Though a social conservative who would outlaw all abortions, he believes the federal government should leave drug enforcement to the states.

It’s also in keeping with this ideology that Paul wants the federal government to stop shoveling taxpayers’ money into wars. He was against the war in Iraq and finds the justification for our commitment in Afghanistan “murky.” He believes that America’s national security is “not threatened by Iran having one nuclear weapon.”

No wonder he didn’t get Cheney’s endorsement; Paul also opposes the enhanced government surveillance mandated by the Patriot Act. The Tea Party is a rolling rebuke to the neocons’ quarter-century dominance of the G.O.P. Only three months ago, Ron Paul, who shares his son’s un-Cheney national security views, won the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, ending Mitt Romney’s three-year winning streak.

With Rand Paul, we also get further evidence of race’s role in a movement whose growth precisely parallels the ascent of America’s first African-American president. The usual Tea Party apologists are saying that it was merely a gaffe — and a liberal media trap — when Paul on Wednesday refused to tell Rachel Maddow of MSNBC that he could fully support the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But Paul has expressed similar sentiments repeatedly, at least as far back as 2002.

His legal argument that the federal government cannot force private businesses to desegregate is the same used by Barry Goldwater, a frequently cited hero of Paul’s, when the conservative standard-bearer voted against the Civil Rights Act at its inception. It’s all about the Constitution, not race, you see. Under fire, Paul ultimately retreated from this stand — much as the new Republican governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, finally withdrew his April proclamation saluting Confederate History Month. But not before both men’s messages reached their intended demographic.

(click to continue reading Frank Rich- The ‘Randslide’ and Its Discontents – NYTimes.com.)

I have a slight amount of sympathy for a couple of Libertarian ideas: the government shouldn’t be involved in “moral” issues (drugs, sex, religion), but beyond that, I laugh at their precepts. Businesses benefit from having electricity, water, roads, and customers who are alive still because of government involvement in pollution regulation and the like; claiming as the Libertarians seem to often do that we should return to the Robber Baron era of the 1870s is ludicrous. If the Libertarians want to live in a country like that, perhaps they should move to Somalia, or even Afghanistan.

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