Friday, May 21, 2010

The Mad Doctor

Dr. Rand Paul, eye surgeon and son of presidential candidate Ron Paul, has just won the Republican nomination for the Senate seat in Kentucky being vacated by Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning.

Of all of the primaries happening this election season, Rand Paul's got maybe the most national exposure, being that he was the most prominent candidate from the self-labeled "tea party" movement. That is, he got a lot of the usual kind of attention that the mainstream national media give to politics, the silly soap opera and the "horse race" rather than actually discussing issues and substance.

So not until after Dr. Paul smokes his opponent in Tuesday's primary, and not until he asked about it by NPR's Robert Siegel and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, does some information come out about some really disturbing views he has about civil rights. This information was printed in an editorial by the Courier-Journal of Louisville almost a month ago. It was revealed that Dr. Paul believes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has some major flaws. Namely, he doesn't believe that a private business can be told they can't discriminate against someone due to their race, color, religion or national origin. Yes, really.

What should have been a major story about the radical views of a candidate leading in the polls was completely ignored by the media. The main storyline about Rand Paul to this point, by design of backers of the movement, is how his success is about the strength of the so-called tea party agenda. Everything else about his primary challenge was ignored.

Now Paul, being basically a Libertarian, believes this because he thinks the world is a better place with smaller government, not because he likes racism. He also has problems with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. Dr. Paul thinks it is OK to refuse to sell your house to a black person because, hey it's your house, and that the government has no business in making the world more accessible for those with disabilities.

From the Courier-Journal (which was written after sitting down for lengthy interviews with the candidates):

For instance, he holds an unacceptable view of civil rights, saying that while the federal government can enforce integration of government jobs and facilities, private business people should be able to decide whether they want to serve black people, or gays, or any other minority group.

Of course since this story broke, the good doctor has done a major backpedaling, saying he fully supports the Civil Rights Act and doing the typical right-wing nut-job MO of blaming liberals for "distorting" his views. But make no mistake, what he really believes has been expressed many times in both interviews and his own writing, like a 2002 letter to a newspaper arguing against the Fair Housing Act.

Now, these views may or may not mean that Dr. Paul is a racist. But they most certainly do mean that he is a complete boob.

He says that the good part of the Civil Rights Act was ending "institutional" racism, by which I assume he means ridding the world of Jim Crow laws and desegregating the public schools. But if restaurant owners, private bus companies (like Greyhound) home sellers and a myriad of other private businesses were allowed to discriminate against people due to their race, what exactly does he think would have happened? I'll tell you. We would have restaurants all over the southern US where black people are not allowed to eat, blacks forced to sit in the back of Greyhound buses, whole neighborhoods where minorities are not allowed to live and an untold number of workplaces that don't hire anybody but white people.

That IS institutional racism.

And therein lies the problem with Libertarianism. (Full disclosure - I fucking hate Libertarians. Nothing more than extreme right-wing Republicans, except they are OK with smoking pot.)

Because they are such a niche (re: fringe) group, Libertarian types have basically been allowed to define themselves in the media without any real questioning by reporters. This is mostly because mainstream reporters are either too stupid or lazy to take on the task of defining what it would really mean to live in a Libertarian world. It is really easy to repeat over and over that they believe in "limited" government, but it is a lot harder to explain what that would actually do to our lives and back up those claims with real research and scholarship.

Maybe now that there is a prominent candidate that comes from this background and we actually know it in advance this time - unlike when we don't find out until after they are elected that they hold such extreme views - the press will start to ask the real questions of him.

Shouldn't we know what Dr. Paul specifically means when he says we should limit the amount of government in our lives? (Oddly enough, this limited government mantra does not extend as far as a woman's body, as Dr. Paul believes abortion should be outlawed even in cases of rape and incest. Or gay rights, he's also against allowing gays and lesbians the right to marry)

Types like Rand Paul claim if we allowed their limited government utopia to happen that people would all behave appropriately, with the power of the profit motive the only encouragement people need to do the right thing and treat others fairly.

To believe this is to have a complete and willful ignorance of human history.

His interview with Rachel Maddow (below) is fascinating, watching him try to make it a 1st Amendment issue and also trying to square what he believes with the beliefs of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Anonymous said...

great vetting from the 'liberal media.'

JJisafool said...

I've often said that Libertarians are people that want to throw out the rule book because they are already in the lead.

Seriously, how many poor Libertarians have you ever met?

Deni said...

Great point JJ. I'm totally stealing that line.