Rand Paul won the right to be on the ballot for the US Senate from Kentucky. He comes from a family known for their libertarianism – his father is Ron Paul. The problem with his libertarianism is what is wrong with libertarianism in general – it ignores reality and so it sounds stupid.
On the Rachel Maddow show on May 19th Rand Paul claimed that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went too far by forcing integration of private businesses. He believes that private businesses should be allowed to discriminate. He isn’t a racist per se but is ignorant of history.
The common libertarian argument about social issues in a private setting is that people will “vote with their dollars”. They feel that the free market will force out any businesses that do discriminate because it isn’t acceptable behavior.
The problem for that argument is that it makes sense for white men who have never experienced discrimination.
Back in the 1960’s integrated businesses were the exception not the norm. There were business sections for whites and separate area for blacks – even in Columbus Ohio. Mt Vernon Ave was a strong African-American business area.
That type of discrimination lasted more than 100 years after the end of slavery and the 14th amendment. Either the voting with dollars doesn’t work or is very slow.
Today a business that is overt about it – putting up signs or calling the police to remove non-white people – is ridiculous BECAUSE of laws like the Civil Rights Act.
Of course Paul’s beliefs aren’t surprising:
But the idea that the Civil Rights Act overstepped in its pursuit of guaranteeing racial equality in the South is hardly an alien idea to political right. In fact, in certain conservative circles — especially the anti-government, libertarian wing Rand Paul represents — it’s practically an article of faith.
Consider Ronald Reagan, now part of the pantheon of Republican and conservative heroes. Reagan got his start in national politics stumping for Barry Goldwater, whose fierce anti-government views led him to view the Civil Rights Act as an attack on “the Southern way of life.”
When Reagan made his own run for the presidency in 1976, he positioned himself as Goldwater’s heir, picking up his first primary win in North Carolina on a platform stoking resentment of government intrusion in the South. In 1980, the Californian consciously launched his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi — just miles from where three civil rights activists were killed in the 1960s.
Like Rand, Reagan insisted his views were anti-government and not pro-discrimination — ignoring, of course, that in practical terms, opposing federal civil rights standards would ensure that discrimination persisted.
Of course some conservative Republicans are trying to use the Paul blow up to try and rewrite they history of the civil rights movement. They want to blame Democrats for fighting the Civil Rights Act back in the 1960’s while white washing the GOP’s racist campaigning since Reagan.
“Everybody knows that in 1964, a proud southern Democratic President, Lyndon Johnson, pushed hard to secure the Civil Rights Bill, with the aid of a coalition of northern Democrats and Republicans,” Wilentz said. “This sent the defeated segregationist Southern Democrats (led by Strom Thurmond) fleeing into the Republican Party, where its remnants, along with a younger generation of extremist conservative white southerners, including Rand Paul, still reside.”