Dissecting Rand Paul
May 20, 2010
Evan McMorris-Santoro at Talking Points Memo sums up Rachel Maddow’s interview with Rand Paul much better than I ever could, so I’ll just add my reactions to the exchange and share my findings about the latest good-looking, shallow Tea Party star.
Rand Paul thinks that businesses, such as restaurants, should not be subject to laws prohibiting racism. Why? Because businesses are privately owned, and the owners have First Amendment rights (i.e., the right to free speech).
Somehow, Rand Paul equates the right to free speech with the right to discriminate based on race, sexual orientation, etc. He’s confusing the right of a restaurant owner to say to a black patron, “I don’t like black people” with the right of a restaurant owner to say to a black patron, “I don’t like black people, so get out of my restaurant.” The first instance is free speech; the second is a return to Jim Crow America.
“Should we limit racists from speaking?” asked Rand Paul. Again, he’s confused. He’s confusing speech with action. Racists can talk all they want. I’ll bet they can find lots of people to “talk racist” with at the next Tea Party convention. But racist people can’t act racist. That goes against the principles of Jeffersonian democracy.
But maybe that’s Rand Paul’s point, and maybe he isn’t really confused at all.
Here are some of the issues listed on Rand Paul’s web site:
- Abortion. He’s against it.
- Bailouts. He opposes them.
- Campaign Finance Reform. He thinks it violates the First Amendment (free speech).
- Guns and Politicians. He thinks the latter should make sure everybody can have the former. (Second and Fourth Amendments come into play here!)
- Illegal Immigration. No amnesty! Secure the borders! (with hats off to the Tenth Amendment)
- National Defense. His words: “I believe that the primary Constitutional function of the federal government is national defense, bar none.”
- Privacy & Liberty. He opposes intrusion into the personal lives of Americans.
- Sovereignty. He doesn’t think the US should fund or join international organizations.
So, Rand Paul says “No” to abortion, bailouts, campaign finance reform, immigration reform, governmental intrusion into private lives, and efforts to make the US part of a global community. He says “Yes” to guns, borders, and defense with a capital D. And he is to the word “Amendment” what Rudy Giuliani is to the word “9-11.”
Notice that Poverty and Race are not included in Rand Paul’s issue list, and that Immigration is titled “Illegal Immigration” rather than “Immigration Reform.” Notice that he opposes intrusion into private lives, but doesn’t consider a “No Blacks Allowed” sign on a restaurant to be a violation of personal rights. For all his amendment spouting, the 14th and 15th Amendments don’t seem to matter much to him.
If you are familiar with my favorite film of all time, Nashville, you know about the fictional presidential candidate, Hal Phillip Walker. Like Rand Paul and other 2010 candidates, Walker is a reaction to the public’s distrust and dislike of the existing government. Rand Paul’s blurbs on his web site remind me of Hal Phillip Walker’s talking points: folksy, but ultimately inane. Unfortunately, Nashville ends without telling us if Mr. Walker gets elected. There is time to make sure that Rand Paul doesn’t.