Saturday, May 22, 2010

An Example of the Dumbing Down of American Politics

A friend sent me this link to Rand Paul's interview with Rachel Maddow after his primary victory in Kentucky: This is, of course, the famous interview about Dr. Paul's comments on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Earlier, I had read a transcript of this interview ( I find it unfortunate that Dr. Paul may crucified for intellectual honesty. His argument is that private property is private and the owners of the property have the right to set the rules on their property - and if a business owner wants to put himself at a competitive disadvantage by turning away business to his competition because of his own bigotry, let him do it and let his business suffer for it. Goldwater made the same argument when he chose not to vote for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and it is not really wrong. It may offend our sensibilities, but it is not really wrong.

Both Paul and Goldwater were always quite clear in their opposition to such bigotry. Dr. Paul treats patients without regard to race, religion, or creed. Dr. Paul was also quite clear in the interview that such bigotry on public property is unacceptable and that he had no contention whatsoever with 90% of the Civil Rights Act. What he is arguing about is where the authority for government to control what happens on private property ends. In the era of abuses of eminent domain it remains a relevant question. Most of us would not draw the line where Dr. Paul drew it, I would not draw the line where Dr. Paul drew it, but it is important to realize that we draw that line on a slippery slope.

What I find disturbing is that Dr. Paul will be branded as a racist for making a philosphically cogent argument born, not out of bigotry, but out of a healthy respect for private ownership. Such is the dumb-downed nature of our politics. Chris Matthews had an interesting take on it ( pointing out that politics is often the realm of compromise between philosphical principle and pragmatism and successful politicians are often not the intellectually pure. Moreover, as a political neophyte, Dr. Paul has not come to terms with what his governing philosophy means in the context of established law. It is uncomfortable, perhaps, to watch him sort through these issues in the public arena when a more practiced pol would've already worked out why the 1964 Civil Rights Act is an, "exception to the rule," that should be protected. Dr. Paul did wrestle in the Maddow interview with the practicial issue of what does one do if you oppose one provision of a bill of which you mostly approve. As a Senator he'll face that dilemna a lot and although he couldn't seem to work it out during the interview on the Civil Rights Act, he did overnight and issued a statement opposing the repeal of the Civil Rights Act (

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