Archive - May 2010
24 May, 2010 - 19:54 — Bryan Lambert
Memo to Rand Paul: THANK YOU.
I mean this completely unironically. As I mentioned on the Twitter feed*, Rand Paul is the single best thing to happen to American politics in two years. And the reason for this is that Rand Paul is an actual, bonafide, American Libertarian.
A lot of people claim to be libertarians. Ninety percent of those people are wrong. About half of them are Bill Maher libertarians - social libertarians who think weed and prostitution should be legal. To the extent that I have any libertarian leanings myself, that's where they lie, but that's not really libertarianism. That's a belief that government exists to redress wrongs and prevent social harm, combined with the belief that some of the things the government gets involved in these days doesn't do either.
The other half of the fake libertarians in America are well-represented by your average teabagger. They're people who don't want to pay taxes. So they call themselves "libertarians", because they think if they believe in smaller government strongly enough, they won't have to pay as many taxes. If you ask them what libertarian means, that's what they'll tell you, and they'll be wrong.
Now Rand Paul? Rand Paul is about as true-blue fundamentalist a libertarian as our society can produce. He's the son of noted libertarian Ron Paul. He may even have been named after Ayn Rand, who spent her life writing essentially porn for libertarians. Generations of talentless white male conservatives have gotten their heads to fountain while furiously fapping to the exploits of John Galt.
And when you're a true believer, you not only think you're right, you think other people will be convinced of your rectal rectitude if they are only exposed to the truth. And so it was that, in an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal before the GOP primary for one of Kentucky's senate seats, Paul explained how libertarians view the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"I would not go to that Woolworth's, and I would stand up in my community and say that it is abhorrent, um, but, the hard part—and this is the hard part about believing in freedom—is, if you believe in the First Amendment, for example—you have too, for example, most good defenders of the First Amendment will believe in abhorrent groups standing up and saying awful things... It’s the same way with other behaviors. In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people, who have abhorrent behavior."
That's true libertarianism. Let the free market decide whether black people should be allowed at lunch counters or not. Because the government has no right to regulate a private business's behavior. That would make us unfree. This is, of course, batshit insane. People have been poking holes in it for a week. I'm not going to tread that ground again. I will simply point out that Rand Paul expressed the true beliefs of American libertarianism, and they were so fucking insane and counter to common sense that he spent several days in political hot water pretending he didn't actually believe what he said he believed.
After he won the primary, and the comments came to light, Paul went on Rachel Maddow to defend them. It went... badly. So he blamed Maddow, of course.
"It was a poor political decision and probably won't be happening anytime in the near future. Because, yeah, they can play things and want to say, 'Oh you believed in beating up people that were trying to sit in restaurants in the 1960s.' And that is such a ridiculous notion and something that no rational person is in favor of. [But] she went on and on about that." - Paul, on Laura Ingraham's radio show.
Here's the thing. You can say you don't support segregation, but if you then say that the United States Government, in 1964, should have stayed out of segregation in private businesses and let public opinion change things instead? Then you support segregation. Because until the federal government stepped in, the free market was exactly what you did have. Well, a combination of the free market and segregation laws, but still. Essentially, businesses could choose freely whether to ban blacks from the premises, and customers were free to express their support or disapproval by choosing to patronize those businesses or not.
The result of free-market libertarianism? Widespread segregation and racism. The result of government intervention in private business? Integrated lunch counters, bathrooms, and a marked decrease in blatant, institutionalized racism in America. If you disagree with the method, then you either disagree with the results (which makes you a closet racist) or think the results would have happened anyway just as effectively (which makes you a raving nutter).
Rand Paul really believes this. Sure, he'll say otherwise when called out on it, but give him a chance, and he'll take the fundie libertarian line on any situation, no matter how impolitic it is. Something his daddy learned not to do fairly early on, and why Ron Paul spent a lot of time talking about obscure libertarian dog-whistles like the gold standard. Just a few days after Maddow, here's what Rand had to say about the BP oil spill.
"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.' I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it's part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it's always got to be someone's fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen." - Rand Paul, on Good Morning America.
See what I mean? Just like with the Civil Rights Act, Rand Paul drew the inexorable conclusion of libertarian thought, expressed it in public, and it sounded completely fucking insane. Blaming a British oil company for what may be the largest oil spill in history is UN-AMERICAN. BP should have the freedom to destroy the Gulf of Mexico and not be chastised for it, because "sometimes accidents happen".
Ignoring BP's massive negligence and culpability in the accident, we're at the point where BP can't pay for the cleanup, because it's physically impossible to clean it up. And as for paying for the damages, who decides that? Not the government, according to libertarians, so we just have to trust BP to be true to their word, since they've never come out and actually publicly said they wouldn't try to weasel out of the consequences.
All of this is fabulous, because America has never had a libertarian achieve the level of prominence that Rand Paul has while actually discussing core libertarian beliefs. He's the front-runner to become the next senator from Kentucky. America is hearing what libertarians really think, and most of them find it abhorrent. More importantly, most of the news media have decided to find it abhorrent. This is huge.
The worst possible outcome of all this is that Rand Paul learns to shut his fucking mouth. He already cancelled his appearance on Meet The Press yesterday because he's gotten into too much trouble answering questions. If he learns to hide the truth like his dad has and goes on to win in Kentucky, it would suck. But if he can't keep his inner libertarian from coming out, I almost hope he DOES win in November, so that the libertarian case can be made openly and honestly, and be rejected for the insane fantasy world it really is.
*Which I will in fact be using, despite a somewhat anemic response rate. So if you were holding out to see if I'd bother going ahead, you can feel free to follow or read it to your heart's content.