Webster’s Dictionary defines a libertarian as “an advocate of the doctrine of free will” and a Libertarian as “a person who upholds the principles of individual liberty, especially of thought and action.” I could partially be pinned down as the former but not necessarily the latter, since “thought and action” tend to be subjective terms defined only by those with the thoughts or actions they are involved with, which, of course works antithetical to the definition of the former.
It’s those ambiguous “thoughts and actions” which cause a dictionary to capitalize a concept, to which you could absolutely and unequivocally put me down as a staunch opponent. We don’t deal in capitalization. That’s for immutable philosophy. It’s strictly lower-case around here. I see it as a logic thing; where opinions are based less on stringent ideology and more on a case-by-cases basis. This is the main reason about 95 percent of what is written in this space is at best misinterpreted, at worst mangled, and most certainly and plainly misunderstood by those who are coming with “capitalized” eyes, ears and general mind-set, and why my name and the titles of my books always appear in lower-case.
However, when a philosophical cat like Rand Paul decides to exit the lower-case I so comfortably inhabit and enter the world of the capitalized; as in Libertarian, Conservative, Liberal, Republican, Democrat, there are problems.
Take for instance Paul’s recent astonishing run as an outsider candidate for senate in Kentucky, defeating the Republican machine from the Right as a TEA Party symbol for little-to-no government interference with almost anything anyone can conjure. It was less than 24 hours after his subsequent primary victory when his previously intriguing, some might call provocative and still others recently described as radical quotes began to matter outside of the lower-case world of philosophical debate and jumped into the realm of the capitalized.
Paul, to his credit, not unlike Scott Brown’s unlikely ascent and senate victory in Massachusetts this past January, ran almost an entirely non-Republican campaign; not necessarily anti-Republican, just not “affiliated with” beyond the R next to his name in the voting booth. In fact, Paul is the only authentic TEA Party candidate—since the aforementioned opportunist Brown not only grabbed hold of the movement’s phenomenon as a coattail prop, but has since turned his back on and peeved the very same constituents.
Apparently being a TEA Party representative means conveniently standing outside the mainstream of the current toxic political climate.
Paul so completely ignored the usual decorum; he ceremoniously announced his candidacy on an openly and proudly promoted Liberal cable show hosted by former Air America radio jock, Rachel Maddow. The theory behind Maddow unleashing the loose-canon Paul on the Republican powerbase is obvious, but those familiar with Maddow’s promotion in the MSNBC talent pool recall her early appearances on well known libertarian Tucker Carlson’s long-since cancelled show, which may go a long way in revealing the Rand Paul connection.
And so with little trepidation and apparent blessing from his campaign staff, Paul returned to Maddow’s show the night after his primary win and was hammered with questions to qualify what at best appears his lukewarm support and without much imagination an open contempt for one article of the Civil Rights Act, which he reiterated would have been “re-examined and argued against” had he been in the Senate 46 years ago.
Any three consecutive minutes of this interview shows Paul to be a babbling idiot. Not even his libertarian views are clear and certainly nothing he offered as a way of illustrating said views made a lick of sense, as in his infantile defense which ridiculously repeated specious analogies to “The Left” having a fit if people were allowed to carry loaded guns into restaurants or that somehow refusing basic civil rights to taxpaying citizens is analogous to abhorrent free speech.
Aside from goofy comparisons of deadly weapons and hate speech to skin hue or religious persuasion, Paul’s philosophical libertarianism is replete with hypocrisy, for although in his weak backtracking he claims he is all for non-discriminatory laws involving government-run institutions, he somehow forgets that restaurants, hotels, and other such “private businesses” use public streets to front their establishments, take public currency for their services, and enjoy the protection of public servants in police and firefighters.
Suddenly libertarian Rand Paul, champion of the anti-government crowd, was shaky Rand Paul the Libertarian candidate for a cherished seat in the land’s most powerful legislative branch, hardly able to handle the discussion of such a task.
Living both ways turns out to cut both ways.
Paul’s libertarianism, which may have previously used vaguely cobbled forms of logic, had suddenly become Libertarian dogma overnight, as comments he shared with the Louisville Courier-Journal as a long-shot outsider eventually surfaced as he became a bonafide frontrunner for one of the state’s two senate seats. When asked – on video presently available all over the Internet – about certain measures for the federal government to intercede in state rights, as in the Civil Rights Act or the American Disabilities Act, Paul mused that while he supports anti-discrimination laws, he challenges imposing those rules on private businesses; specifically in the case of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which many on the Right then vehemently opposed as Big Government interference in State Rights and Individual Property Rights as granted by the U.S. Constitution.
Somehow our Libertarian was unaware that this kind of rhetoric had long ago been roundly pummeled by the logical libertarian stance that although private businesses have the right to render their services based on certain parameters, the color of someone’s skin or religious or cultural orientation cannot be included. The logic comes in when “individual liberty” and “free will” a libertarian cherishes are impeded for those who might be forced to pee in a jar in Alabama, sleep in a segregated hotel in Tennessee, be tossed to the street from a lunch counter in Mississippi or bused miles out of the way in the state Paul now hopes to represent in congress to a “special school for the appropriate color of skin”.
As a charter member of the order of logical libertarian (I proclaim myself as such in the face of eight years of Compassionate Conservatism and the first two years of Pragmatic Liberalism) I view Paul as at best a poser libertarian. Although he is against foreign wars unless provoked or have direct national security issues, how does he feel about certain anti-Republican cultural and moral issues such as the free will of gays to marry, a woman’s right to her own body functions, for taxpaying citizens to choose the recreational drug of choice without facing prison time, or where does he stand on the usual stream of entitlements everyone wants but whines about paying for?
Paul’s recent rebuttals against the federal government’s braggadocio of “standing on the neck” of British Petroleum for all-but destroying the Gulf Coast sounds an awful lot like a dime-a-dozen conservative-speak that more often than not sees fit to choose the doctrine of free will of business over that of the citizen.
Truth is Rand Paul is as much a libertarian as Christians are christian.
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus, and Midnight For Cinderella.