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[SBNet] Getting Randy

And people thought I only wrote about videogames! OK... lately, I have written only about videogames. It's been taking all my creative juice to write about games I'd rather not play, in addition to my weekly column, the fact that I think I'm going to get another weekly column by default (right after giving one of them up, too!). I'm going to make it a point - again - to get back into writing about other things, if only to force my creative juices to flow. It's like a muscle; if you don't use it, you lose it. So I want to well-round myself a bit more.

This is my thoughts on the Rand Paul issue.


---

After his win in the Kentucky Republican Senate Primary - effectively giving him the Senate seat in deep red Kentucky - Rand Paul, the son of Texas Rep. and libertarian icon Ron Paul, ended up in a bit of political hot water. His comments that he likely would have taken a similar stance to Barry Goldwater on the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 have drawn a lot of ire from the left. Paul has become a national issue, culminating in a twenty minute interview with Rachel Maddow. The result has been predictable: the hard left is painting him as a racist, whereas the far right... well, they're just making fun of Keith Olbermann's ratings, like always.

There's only one problem: Rand Paul - and by extension, Barry Goldwater - are both right. This is both the blessing and the curse of libertarian thought, the Constitution, and the definition of true freedom.

Before I begin, I feel like I have to qualify my statements, like everyone else defending Dr. Paul: I abhor racism. I abhor any kind of class warfare, which separates us based on things we can't control. Race discrimination, sex discrimination, sexuality discrimination, all of these things are inherently evil and must be eradicated from our society. If you are judging someone based on anything but their actions - more specifically, their actions which hurt another person - then you are a bad person. The colour of our skin, our geneology, and what we do in the bedroom with other consenting adults has nothing to do with who we are as people.

The Constitution of the United States specifies nothing separating people. Forget the fact that it was written by slave owners; it states that all men (and by extension, women) are created equal. This, itself, renders slavery illegal, but that's an argument for another day. When it comes to anything involving public funding, discrimination simply does not exist, under the letter of the Constitution. While I'm not a lawyer like our friend Doug Mataconis, and therefore haven't studied the Constitution as a matter of my profession, the document and its amendments are all easy enough to understand. Simply put: the country was founded upon a belief that we're all free to do whatever we want privately.

Here comes the "but": that includes private business. When someone starts a private business, they should have the right to do business however they see fit. Unfortunately, that includes the right to determine with who you do business with. By the letter of the Constitution, business owners have a right to not sell to people. This includes selection based on race, sexuality, etc. "But that's wrong!", I can hear some people saying. You're right. My opinion is that it's wrong. But the Constitution doesn't "right", "wrong" or someone's opinion.

The case against voting for the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 can be summed up in four words: "where does it stop". United States law is heavily reliant on precedent. Remember back to when you were a kid. Have you ever made the argument, whenever you got into trouble, "but he did it!" or "he did something similar!"? Imagine lobbyists making that argument. Taking all subjectivity out of the argument, saying to someone that they have to do business with black people whether they want to or not is the same as saying to someone that they have to allow their products to be sold by anyone that wants to sell them. To use some examples from my own industry, it would be the same as telling Apple that they cannot choose to restrict sales of their iPad, or telling Activision that they don't have the right to enter into an exclusive agreement with Microsoft to allow their Stimulus Pack of Modern Warfare 2 maps to be sold exclusively on Xbox Live for a month. The context of the differences is extreme, but by the letter of the law, context means little. Rachel Maddow made the case that Title II of the Civil Rights Bill was just because it allowed black people to use lunch counters, bowling alleys, and other creature comforts. The problem is that these things are not mandatory to life; taking them away does not deprive a person of their life, liberty or property as provided by the Fifth Amendment. Does not having the ability to use them suck? Absolutely. But it is not mandatory to provide those things, nor should the government be doing so.

The PROBLEM - and the main reason I would vote for the Civil Rights Bill if we were a policy maker in 1964 while duly noting the overreach of Title II - was that restricting business dealings with black people for all those years in the South wasn't a matter of choice, it was a matter of law. The Jim Crow laws specifically mandated "separate but equal", which naturally led to hatred and discontent towards blacks, who's emancipation they viewed as the whole reason for the Civil War and their resulting loss. The Jim Crow laws became a legal and social mandate which was enforced by scared, weak-minded people who let themselves be deluded into believing that giving rights to other people somehow invalidated their own (hey, that sounds familiar...). They were all unconstitutional, but while the first one wasn't overturned until 1917, it would be a long process of getting them overturned by the Supreme Court. Due to the fact that segregation had been legally forced, and therefore socially accepted for a vast majority of people in an extremely large region for almost 100 years, the Civil Rights Act was a necessity, even counting the commerce clause.

This remains the blessing and the curse of the libertarian movement. As the old saying goes, "everyone's a libertarian until their house is on fire". It's easy to claim being a libertarian when it comes to things that are popular. "The government is going to take my money! They're overtaxing me! APPEAL ALL TAXES! DON'T TREAD ON ME!!!" It's not so easy to defend it when you take the good and bad sides of freedom. Yes, freedom is a double-edged sword. There are times when someone's freedom to do something interferes with you, or what you want. Sometimes, you have to take the good with the bad. I hate to quote this man, but Glen Beck said it best while talking about Arizona immigration bill SB 1070: "you don't shred the Constitution because it's popular". Honest libertarians struggle with these choices all the time, knowing that the decision might not hold political water in today's 24/7/365 political climate. Barry Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Bill because he could not ignore Title II. I would have to overlook Title II while noting that this would be an exception. Rand Paul isn't sure, but likely would side with Goldwater.

On that note, it should be noted that I don't think Barry Goldwater could make it as a senator in 2010. He's too principled, which is something we can't say about the person who now holds his Senate seat. Anyone who wants true political change - who wants to get away from the nanny state tendencies of the Democrats and the Neo-Conservative tendencies of the Republicans - should hope that Rand Paul can, no matter what kind of beating he takes on this issue from the rubberneckers who never heard of him before this week.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
vyctori
May. 23rd, 2010 04:18 pm (UTC)
That was a really interesting read, 'Bus. I'm not a libertarian (obviously), and I rarely see that perspective show up in debate, so it was fascinating to see your viewpoint laid out in a reasonable, rational way that I could understand--this being a rarity for all politics, as you're well aware.
sam767
May. 23rd, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
Why aren't the Pauls members of the Libertarian party anyways?
superbus
May. 23rd, 2010 09:28 pm (UTC)
That's my biggest problem with the Pauls. Ron Paul was the 1988 Libertarian Party candidate for President, but has been a Republican all other times. On the one hand, you could say he and Rand both go with the old-school Republican standard that was the case in the days of Goldwater, though I'm not sure if Goldwater was a Mises (gold standard) type. He's also a noted Reagan supporter.

On the other hand, if you're going to campaign on libertarian (small l) rights, be a fucking Libertarian (big L). I want true libertarians - especially social libertarians - representing me. The problem is that the Libertarian Party is staffed mostly by either failed Republicans - those who can't get elected for an extended time - or kooks. We've got true assholes or weak minded Republicans who are using the LP for their own desires, and it's making us look bad.
samuraiter
May. 24th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
*ponders*

This is interesting for a number of reasons, if you will forgive me using the § sign to give myself bullets.

§ I am curious as to how far Paul the Younger will go. One might say that his candidacy represents experimentation, though, admittedly, it is happening in my home state. Kentucky is not a fan of innovation in politics, to put it gently. (McConnell in my home state, Boehner in my state of residence – not a winning combination with me.)

§ This most likely comes from me being a Socialist (not a member of the party, mind; if you think the Libertarians have kooks, you should see us nowadays, LOL), but I can't help but see private business as a beast to be controlled. Corporations have wrought such a degree of harm in so many different ways that I am always going to lean towards regulation and anti-trust measures. This means, in effect, that I take the opposite view from you: Business must serve all comers unless they do direct, immediate harm to their bottom line. Business is like any bully, from what I've observed, since they'll pick on anybody who's weaker than they are, but even they have to answer Mother Government.

§ And I thought 'dmataconis' was the Twitter name for dmajohnson. Silly me.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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