Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rand Paul: Giving Libertarianism a Bad Name

Rand PaulBy Kirk Petersen, May 22, 2010, All that is Necesssary... Reposted with permission.

Taranto aptly called it “a rookie mistake” when newly nominated Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul told an interviewer that he was troubled by the fact that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — which Paul otherwise supported – crossed the line of regulating behavior by private businesses. However intellectually coherent Paul’s position might be in a narrow, libertarian-absolutist, freshman-dorm-room kind of way, politically and realistically it’s nuts.

Or as Taranto says:

In this matter, Paul seems to us to be overly ideological and insufficiently mindful of the contingencies of history. Although we are in accord with his general view that government involvement in private business should be kept to a minimum, in our view the Civil Rights Act’s restrictions on private discrimination were necessary in order to break down a culture of inequality that was only partly a matter of oppressive state laws.

If he’s going to play in the big leagues, Paul needs to stop making rookie mistakes. In discussing the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Paul apparently felt a need to stick up for the spiller:

“What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,’” said Paul who overwhelmingly won Tuesday’s GOP Senate primary in Kentucky and is a favorite of Tea Party activists. “I think that sounds really un-American in his criticisms of businesses.”

“I’ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill,” Paul continued. “I think it’s part of this blame game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault, instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.”

I’m a big fan of capitalism myself, but geez. There will be other, better opportunities to criticize Obama and the Democrats for excessive corporate-bashing. For now, Paul would be wise to simply refrain from joining the dogpile on top of the oil industry.

If I were to describe my political philosophy in one word, that word would be “libertarian.” My libertarian slogan of choice is “free people and free markets, under the rule of law.” The “rule of law” part is a recognition that if you go too far down the spectrum toward small government, you wind up with anarchy. To become a Senator, Rand Paul needs to stop following his father that far down the libertarian trail.

Comment: This is an excellent post from one of my favorite bloggers. Since I can't say it better, I am reposting in full with the authors permission. The only area in which I differ from the author is that I would not call my self a libertarian.

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  1. Thanks for the kind words, Rod. When you say you would not call yourself a libertarian, is that because of a disagreement with libertarian principles, or is it because so many libertarians seem to be whack jobs?

  2. I have to agree with Rand Paul and John Stossel on the issue, while I often disagree with Libertarians on some issues as a Conservative this is one where I can agree, when it comes to a private business Government should be involved as little as possible. I don't want to see people turned away because of religious, skin color, gender, ethnicity or any other excuse but just as we get angry at the liberals and progressives when they want to force us to accept behaviors we don’t like. Liberals and Progressives are like the Borg of Star Trek they want a collective not a nation of individuals, and with a nation of individuals you will have people with views you may not like. But Tolerance is not about liking the thing you are tolerating, it doesn't mean you have to like it. Which if I may point out the Liberals and Progressives aren’t very tolerant of Conservative and Libertarian views.

  3. Kirk, it is not so much disagreement with libertarian principles as it is that I believe is some transcendent moral order despite not being an overtly religious person. Also, I think that in practice a lot of what is proposed by libertarians would simply not work. I also have respect for tradition and the evolution of handed down wisdom. I agree with many libertarian views however. I would move cautiously but support such things as decimalization of drugs and could be persuaded to favor decriminalization of victimless crimes such as prostitution. I guess I could be described as a supporter of classical liberalism and strongly identify with the fusionist arguments of Frank Meyer.
    I strongly part ways with libertarians on foreign policy. I do think our going to war in Iraq was a mistake and unnecessary but think our foreign involvement was necessary and proper during the cold war and World War II and still think we must maintain a strong military and remain engaged in the world.
    I consider myself a pragmatist and a realist. I view libertarians as utopians. I favor smaller, less intrusive government but do not think society can function with virtually no government as many libertarians seem to think. Like many other tags, libertarianism has several branches. I often find myself in agreement with the views expressed in Reason magazine and with the views of the Cato institute but find some libertarians are real whack jobs. I have no desire to move to New Hampshire, go off grid, build a fortress, and abolish the state government.