I used to be a Big-L Libertarian. I left the GOP, disgusted that they’d sold the law-abiding gun owner down the river with the 1994 “Crime” Bill. I joined the Libertarians because they were purists on liberty.
And in a room full of purists, it was easy to explain why believing in private property rights – a cornerstone of Libertarianism and, also, the United States – and the right to free association meant it was wrong to tell, say, a lunch counter owner that he had to desegregate his private property. The proper response – in a room full of liberties purists who, as a general rule, are less racist than the population at large – is to not go to that lunch counter, and use your freedom of speech to let other people know that the owner ran a segregated lunch counter.
Of course, we rarely had to try to explain these things to people outside the room. The Libertarians never won any elections – rarely got over a percent, in fact.
Ron Paul started changing that; he brought liberty-minded people into the GOP, and in some places took it over.
The Tea Party furthered this, sanding off (thankfully) some of Paul’s whackdoodle conspiracymongering and focusing on libertarian ideas of taxation, spending and the role of government – a discussion this nation desperately needs.
Rand Paul, running for the Senate in Kentucky, just got into trouble for getting into an argument about classical libertarianism in a forum that’s more concerned with squeedging attack sound bites out of people with elephants next to their names.
Howard Kurtz on the original interview that started the flap:
[Rand Paul] kept telling [MSNBC host Rachel] Maddow he was not in favor of discrimination. He would have marched with Martin Luther King Jr. He supported the law’s ban on bias in public institutions. “Am I a bad person? Do I believe in awful things? No,” Paul said.
But he would not, despite repeated prodding, say the government should legally bar private institutions from discrimination.
And in doing so, he was that one thing politicians all claim to be, but almost none are; honest. He’s not a racist – indeed, to principled conservatives racism (imposing group stereotypes onto individuals) is an absolute wrong; to a Libertarian the thoughts in ones’ heart, the things one says, and the company one keeps are none of the government’s business – but everyone must be rigidly equal before the law:
“I’m all in favor of and that was desegregating the schools, desegregating public transportation, use public roads and public monopolies, desegregating public water fountains,” he said.
Which is a hunkydory discussion point among libertarians and Jeffersonian liberals; to them (us?), government has no place telling people they must not offend with their speech, their associations, or the use of their private property. Among libertarians (big and small), at least as an academic discussion, allowing racists their constitutional rights to speak, associate and use their property as they wish does not in turn make one a racist – merely one who knows what government’s role is supposed to be, and the proper response to loathsome private beliefs, speech and behavior is evangelism and good speech. It’s one of those poli-sci discussions that big-L Libertarians love to have, in the abstract.
But in politics, abstract questions have many layers of real manifestations:
“How about desegregating lunch counters?” Maddow said.
Mark Tapscott in the WashEx writes about the dim-witted feeding frenzy that ensued:
If the bloody waters that appear in the midst of such a shark frenzy make you uncomfortable, better get used to it. Odds are good that Paul is only the first of many Tea Party linked candidates whose inexperience in political combat with the media will spark such bloodbaths in coming months.
No such flap enveloped Scott Brown in Massachusetts probably because he had some prior experience as a Republican state senator in dealing with a hostile media in Massachusetts.
But many more of the Tea Party endorsed candidates who will gain visibility in the congressional campaign in coming months will, like Paul, be making their first-ever foray in seeking elective office. Like babes, they will go into brutal hand-to-hand combat with Establishment GOP, then Democratic opponents and their sympathetic journos, all of whom are seasoned veterans.
And when it comes to trying to frame your opponent, truth comes in a distant third to “making up a good chanting point to cleverly defame your opponent” and “making that chanting point so simple that any drooling SEIU droog can remember it”, in the hopes of taking a brief soundbyte of a statement intended as part of an academic discussion, and turning it first into “Rand Paul hates civil rights”, and thence to “Republicans are racists!”.
It’s poison for rational debate – but then, that’s not what the left, scared out of their minds by being on the wrong side of a populist tsunami, cares about.
The left is, of course, deeply hypocritical on the subject; via the ACLU, they are scrupulous about some peoples’ rights to speak and associate without question; somehow, the media managed to square the ACLU’s support for Nazis marching in Skokie with the idea that it didn’t mean the Democratic party sympathized with eliminationist anti-semites. The rights of conservative college students, of course, don’t rate similar scrupulousness.
The lesson is a simple one, though. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know a couple of key truths for new politicians to remember when campaigning:
- The media is in the bag for the Democrats. Duh.
- The media will cover for the “nuances” in the Dems’ positions; Rep. Keith Ellison, for example, will no more be grilled over whether his support for Hamas means he indirectly supports the extinction of Israel than Obama would be for his “bitter gun-clinging Jesus freaks” quote.
- But they will find the energy to go over everything you say and do to find something that can be presented to the undecided to caricature you and frame you as part of the meme they are complicit in circulating about conservatives.
- The left, believing as they do as a matter of historical, philosophical fact that “the ends justify the means, don’t care that they toss the entire context of what you say, and in effect lie about and defame you. As long as it frames you so they win.
In ordinary times, by the way, this would be the point where I”d say “by the way, I oppose discrimination, and think Rand Paul was an idiot to try to get all academic on “nationa” TV on a subject as loaded as discrimination”. But that doesn’t seem to be enough to keep the smear machine at bay, these days.