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May 20, 2010

Rand Paul...It's Going To Be A Long, Long 6 Months

First, the mercenary good news...Rasmussen has him leading the Democrat Conway 59-34.

Then there's the rest.

Yesterday, Paul went on NPR and the Rachel Maddow show (WTH?) and was asked repeatedly whether he supported the ďCivil Rights ActĒ and federally mandated desegregation of things like lunch counters. His answers were nuanced to be charitable, evasive to be accurate.

I get the NPR guys and Maddow are liberal shills who would never ask a Democrat an irrelevant questions like these simply to damage them. It was NPR and MSNBC, what else are you expecting? Still, it represents the danger of nominating a guy like Paul who is a novice candidate and a true libertarian.

Itís also a taste of what we can expect for the next 6 months as the MFM tries to make Paul the face of the Republican party.

I know and agree that there are problems with the Civil Rights Act but you know what else? It settled law (which Paul concedes). Thereís no upside to giving the limited constitutional/libertarian lecture on it.

All of that said, hereís the bottom line...when you're running for office and someone asks you if you support the Civil Rights Act you say "yes". Period. Full Stop. Next question. Why? Because answering anything else paints you as a crank who doesn't need to be taken seriously on anything else.

Personally, I would love to see some adjustments made to the way we deal with civil rights litigation and regulation in this country (disparate impact, contract set asides, etc come to mind). Itís an almost impossible task in Congress (maybe the courts someday) but it will never happen if people have even the slightest notion that itís the camelís nose under the tent for something like pulling the federal prohibition on segregated lunch counters or workplaces.

You might be able to get people to move with you in smaller steps if they know you are with them on the larger issues but if they sense you are using the small change to undermine something big they care about, they wonĎt start down that road. Itís basic politics.

Right now my biggest concern is undoing Obamacare. Trust me, we will win no converts to the small government, anti-ObamaCare cause by linking it, even rhetorically and dreamily, with a free market approach to desegregation. You can say that Commerce Clause overreach in the 60s got us here. Okay, so what? Here is where we are. We donít need to get buy in from people to undo 80+ years of lousy Commerce Clause jurisprudence to get people to support repealing ObamaCare, we need to get them to support repealing ObamaCare.

This is my problem with many (L)libertariansÖthey often seem more interested in purity of thought and winning an argument than actually accomplishing something. At the risk of over generalizing, it seems agreeing on an ad hoc basis isnít enough for many (L)libertarians you also have to buy into the whole intellectual frame work. Deviate for one second in pursuit of some real world goal and you are a useless sellout.

Politics in America is about compromise. This isnít a RINO approach to the world, itís a feature not a bug of the government the founders established. They were leery of any one group getting to much power so they set up institutions that would divide power and set interest against interest. In that kind of system compromise is always going to be required.

I know a lot of people will cheer Paul, not because they are racist but because they want this kind of full throated libertarian defense of their beliefs. Ok, enjoy it but you know what? It might well sink him. Not because the media is unfair (though they are) but because a lot of this stuff is popular.

I love to argue with liberals about how this country is doing pretty damn well on race issues. Well you know what? A lot of that is because of things like federally mandated desegregation. Did it cut a few constitutional corners? Sure. Has the law been abused and expanded beyond itĎs original purpose? Yep. Would we have the gains in race relations without the Civil Rights Act? Maybe. Could a free market approach to desegregation have created the same or even better results? No one knows.

The fact is, if you take pride in how far this country has come in a relatively short period of time on race relations, then you simply canít toss aside the effects of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Conservatives right point out that there are costs and benefits to every government action. When the state enhances one groups freedoms it always involves a trade off in liberty for someone else. The fact of the matter is the overwhelming majority of people would support the trade off that was made in 1964. Iíd bet thatís the case with a majority of people who self-identify as tea party supporters as well.

Is this a stupid issue that the MFM will use to unfairly smear Paul and Republicans? Sure.

I take Paul at his word that he opposes discrimination and itís not likely his first piece of legislation will be to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (He's issued a press release to that effect). Still, the fact of the matter is, if you want to run true believers, this is whatís going to happen. And quite honestly, itís not going to just be liberals who are taken aback by following Paulís beliefs to the their logical conclusions.

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posted by DrewM. at 12:08 PM

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