Rand Paul fails epically on the Rachel Maddow Show
Rand Paul’s performance on last night’s Rachel Maddow Show was epic, and not in a good way. To give a little background, yesterday Paul gave an interview to the Louisville Courier-Journel, in which he seemed to say that he would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had he been in the Senate. His rationale? He doesn’t like the idea of telling private business owners that they can’t discriminate. Maddow tried to get him to clarify his remarks, but he wasn’t having any of it:
This is only the first part of the interview (you can find the second here), but I’m not exaggerating when I say that Rand was palpably uncomfortable throughout. At no point did Paul give Maddow a straight answer, and when it was clear that he couldn’t spin his way out of Maddow’s questioning, he took to dismissing the whole issue on the basis of its “obscurity” and irrelevance to the Kentucky Senate race. By the end of the interview however, Paul had all but restated his original view: the Civil Rights Act was fine when it came to prevent public discrimination, but went off the rails in criminalizing discrimination by private businesses and establishments.
Paul claims that he isn’t a racist and abhors discrimination, and I completely believe him. But that doesn’t change the fact that Paul, like many libertarians, has an incredibly blinkered view of oppression and liberty. Simply put, and for reasons that I think have a lot to do with the demographics of the movement (read: a lot of white guys), libertarians have a habit of fixating on the state and its role in perpetuating oppression and constraining liberty, with many libertarians completely blind to the fact of oppression by culture and custom. It simply doesn’t register. As such, it’s no surprise that libertarians like Paul can make arguments about the desirability (or lack thereof) of the Civil Rights Act without once considering the oppression that can flow from ostensibly “just” arrangements of private property
As a quick and final note, the fact that many libertarians still have yet to grasp the fact that oppression comes from a variety of sources, is to me at least a sign that libertarians — or at least those working within the Republican Party — aren’t concerned with “liberty” as much as they are eager to turn the state away from the least-well off and back towards the privileged. But that’s a different post.