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10 Reasons Americans Should be Wary of Rand Paul's Libertarianism, Especially Young People

Sen. Rand Paul is trying to attract millennials. Don't fall for it!

Republican Senator Rand Paul has been making a big play for millennials lately, most notably by taking his civil liberties pitch to colleges around the country. Paul has got the right idea when he says his party must “evolve, adapt or die” (although I think the first two are virtually the same thing). Katie Glueck of Politico wrote that “The Kentucky senator drew a largely friendly reception at the University of California-Berkeley as he skewered the intelligence community."

Sen. Paul spoke of “dystopian nightmares” and added that “your rights, especially your right to privacy, are under assault.” Paul also said he perceives “fear of an intelligence community that’s drunk with power, unrepentant and uninclined to relinquish power.” 

Virtually all of the other politicians taking that stand come from the left side of the political spectrum. They include figures like independent socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. Rand Paul is not like these other defenders of civil liberties.

Rand Paul, like his father, prefers to package his fairly old-school brand of economic conservatism under the trendier name of “libertarianism.” That’s not just a labeling change. It also means Paul has paired his retrograde economic ideas with a very outspoken stance against militarism and the espionage state. It’s a mixture that Paul hopes can make inroads with groups that are not traditionally Republican voters.

Paul’s play for millennials was almost inevitable. As a recent Pew study reported, that generation’s disaffection with the two-party system appears to be at record levels. Fifty percent of millennials polled said that they do not associate themselves with either party, which is the highest percentage recorded thus far. It’s also a 10 point jump from their equivalent age group’s level of political affiliation only seven years ago.

But Rand Paul gravely misunderstands the nature of that political disaffection. Yes, millennials feel alienated toward political and other institutions. They have a right to feel that way. As Joshua Holland says, millennials didn’t abandon these institutions. The institutions abandoned them.

But Rand Paul and libertarianism are not the answer. His economic strategy can be summed up in a quota used for one of his bills: “remove the shackles of big government by reducing taxes, regulations, and burdensome union work requirements.”

In other words, more of the same conservative philosophy that got us in this mess in the first place. Here are 10 reasons why millennials should be extremely wary of the senator from Kentucky.

1. His philosophy of deregulation created your jobs problem.

Rand Paul loved to preach the gospel of deregulation. He went so far as to proclaim that Obama was putting his “boot heel” on the neck of—get this—British Petroleum. Why? Because BP was being asked to bear part of the cost for the oil spill it created.

That’s right. Rand Paul believes “regulation” is evil, even when it’s only asking a reckless private corporation to clean up its own messes.

Wall Street deregulation crashed the economy in 2008. As a result, the millennial generation is entering the job market at the worst time in modern history. Millennials are facing record levels of unemployment and under-employment. What’s Rand Paul’s solution? More of the same.

2. He doesn’t believe in jobs programs.

Those of us who are fighting for jobs programs and infrastructure investment—two things that would help the millennial generation significantly—have a fierce opponent in Rand Paul. Paul believes government spending is inherently bad, and tax cuts are inherently good. There are jobs proposals that target millennials for assistance. Rand Paul is against them.

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