The Revenge of Rand Paul

Ryan Lizza has a new piece out in the New Yorker about Rand Paul. It is an interesting read and can be found here.  Ultimately, it looks like Rand Paul is going to have a hard time getting out from under his father’s shadow, and Lizza spends a lot of time trying to make the “guilty by association” argument.

In May, 1996, Morris released copies of Paul newsletters from 1992 that were overtly racist. “We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men,” one article said, but “it is hardly irrational. Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers.” The article went on, “We don’t think a child of thirteen should be held responsible as a man of twenty-three. That’s true for most people, but black males age thirteen who have been raised on the streets and who have joined criminal gangs are as big, strong, tough, scary and culpable as any adult and should be treated as such.”

Here again, tying Rand’s political career to his father.  Frankly, it is a safe comparison – they both hold very similar views and Rand has worked on his father’s campaigns throughout his life.  The problem here is I feel the media is going to use the perception of Ron as a bit of a nut against Rand.

Ultimately, Rand was saved from political obscurity by his father. In 2008, Ron Paul decided to run for President. The campaign raised an extraordinary thirty-five million dollars by cultivating a small but intensely committed following that later carried Rand Paul’s message, too. At the beginning of 2008, Ron Paul was treated as he always had been by the Republican establishment: like a kook. When he argued that George W. Bush’s militarized foreign policy was creating more terrorists, or insisted that the country was on the edge of an economic calamity, he was mocked by Republican opponents such as John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani.

Rand’s comments on the Civil Right’s Act are discussed, along with his views on discrimination.  To his credit, Lizza allows Rand to present his argument, rather than simply calling him a bigot.  I have always held Rand’s view on this issue, as I think most Libertarians do, and it is an argument that really makes a lot of sense if given the chance.

Rand made a similar case about the Equal Rights Amendment, which had already died. “All must agree that bigoted discrimination is detrimental to the peaceful interaction of different sexes and races in the marketplace,” he wrote. “Should we enact laws that say ‘Thou shall not be prejudiced in business transactions,’ and then hope that the courts interpret such laws in a rational manner? Or should moral questions such as discrimination remain with the individual? Should we preach in order to bring about change, or should we compel?”

And it continues, rehashing the Maddow interview on MSNBC.

After he won, Paul agreed to an interview with Rachel Maddow, on MSNBC. Kelley told him to cancel it, but he didn’t listen. Maddow focussed on Paul’s views of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A few weeks earlier, during an interview with the liberal-leaning editorial board of the Louisville Courier-Journal, Paul had expressed ambivalence about whether the government should be allowed to police discrimination in the private sector. “Do you think that a private business has a right to say that ‘we don’t serve black people?’ ” Maddow asked. Paul believed that private entities did have the right to discriminate, a view he had articulated as recently as 2002. He tried to elevate the conversation to an abstract debate about private rights in a free society and his abhorrence of racism in general. But he made it clear that he still believed that the government should not be allowed to police racism in the private sector.

Paul devoted almost an entire chapter to the Maddow episode in his 2011 book, “The Tea Party Goes to Washington.” But, even then, he didn’t modify his view. He said that the media were out to get him. “Besides the absurd charge that I was some sort of secret racist,” he wrote, “another thing that bothered me about the controversy is it was a reminder of just how limited we are in our public discourse. As my dad often had to deal with in his 2008 presidential campaign, any outside-the-box or unconventional thinking is either dismissed or used to malign one’s character.”

At the end of the day, Rand Paul is the only person I am even remotely excited about in the 2016 election.  I am very interested to see how the media frames his past alongside his political views.  We shall wait and see.


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