Rand Paul: Libertarian Poster Boy Going Down In Flames?

Rand Paul has been getting a lot of internet attention over the past 24 hours for his comments about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The FrumForum has run quite a few reactions to his statement, but this one  from Bruce Bartlett takes issue with anybody who identifies as Libertarian:

“I don’t believe Rand is a racist; I think he is a fool who is suffering from the foolish consistency syndrome that affects all libertarians. They believe that freedom consists of one thing and one thing only–freedom from governmental constraint. Therefore, it is illogical to them that any increase in government power could ever expand freedom. Yet it is clear that African Americans were far from free in 1964 and that the Civil Rights Act greatly expanded their freedom while diminishing that of racists. To defend the rights of racists to discriminate is reprehensible and especially so when it is done by a major party nominee for the U.S. Senate. I believe that Rand should admit that he was wrong as quickly as possible.”

Your thoughts? Reactions? As essentially the only candidate that strongly promotes Libertarian ideas, has he suddenly given classical liberals a bad name?

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I'm a recent graduate of Barnard College in NYC and an even more recent NYC to DC transplant!
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11 Responses to Rand Paul: Libertarian Poster Boy Going Down In Flames?

  1. Aaron says:

    He’s an idiot. It is possible for a government regulation to increase freedom, just like it’s possible for a politician to vote to limit their own power and pay.

    It’s just far more common in theory than in practice. It’s telling how far back one has to go to find a regulation (or bundle of regulations, like the Civil Rights act) which even begins to fit this criteria.

    But whatever, it’s always libertarians’ fault. We make it so darn hard to govern, with our hatred of the arbitrary and our penchant for results. Darn us.

  2. Max says:

    You could hinge any change in society on a law that is passed later on. The situation for black people started to improve long before this was passed. As a counter example, one could point to Roosevelts Anti-Discrimination New Deal, which just reduced employment for black people, because society was still inherently racially biased (remember in the 20s we had a strong surge in “purifying the US nation” kind of racist bullsh*t).

    Such changes in behaviour of a total society are always slow and laws don’t change a thing. If you read the constitution rightly and defined “people” in the right way, then blacks were already free back then. It is always society that has to change and laws don’t make a difference, education and experience do.

  3. Vog says:

    This comment makes absolutely no sense – weren’t the rights of African Americans limited by the government of the day? As were laws discriminating against womens’ rights, etc. So the civil rights act just “undid” what should not have been done by law.

    Libertarian views, contrary to popular belief, go hand in hand with laws that protect constitutional rights (like rights to freedom of expression, etc). Hence any discrimination would go against libertarian views. Libertarianism is not chaos and an excuse for the “big to bully the little”.

    BTW, I like the web name…cool

    • perlhaqr says:

      I believe Mr. Paul is referring to the portion of the law which affected the ability of private property owners to discriminate as they wished. Which, while an unpopular sentiment, is at least philosophically consistent.

      As has been stated elsewhere, personally, I’d prefer to know which business owners are a bunch of bigots, so I can stop giving them money.

      I absolutely agree with your position regarding the necessity of the government to behave equally towards all citizens.

      • Michael says:

        If Paul is referring to the law as you believe, it’s a valid view. Some Christians view gay marriage as morally wrong. But churches are sued to open their doors , photographers punished for not wanting to do a gay wedding, even the Evangelical founder of eharmony was forced to create a gay marriage site.

        While I have no problem with gay marriage, I don’t think I should be forced to do business with the likes of Jeremiah Wright.

  4. Michael says:

    The blacks don’t seem all that grateful for the public housing of the 70s.

  5. anon says:

    Mr. Bartlett built a strawman. Certainly government power can expand rights. Take the First Amendment right to free speech — that’s enforced by the government.

    Would Mr. Bartlett defend racist speech under First Amendment right of free speech? The ACLU certainly has — and I think most folks agree that even the KKK has the right to march (and, in their case, make fools of themselves).

    Or should all personal rights be subject to approval by a tribunal of elites, chaired by Mr. Bartlett?

    • Michael says:

      I’d rather keep the government out and open up the slander and libel laws a bit. It seems in America, if you use “alleged”, you’re free to harm people with false statements.

      • perlhaqr says:

        As long as we don’t go the way of Britain, I could see that. But as things stand now, I’m really rather fond of the principle that truth is an absolute defence against a slander or libel case. (Not true in the UK: One can be charged and found guilty of “harming a reputation” by saying or printing true-but-unflattering things about a person.)

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