Why Rand Paul's "Internally Consistent Philosophy" May Be Worse than Racism
Rand Paul's supporters are pushing back against this whole Civil Rights Act brouhaha by arguing that he's not motivated by animosity towards people of color or fondness for segregation, but is simply a consistent, principled libertarian. I have no problem accepting that. But if you think about it, it's truly a terrible defense. What he's saying is that he wholeheartedly embraces equal treatment for all, but that private property rights trump that social good. That may be a perfectly acceptable position to take if the social good is, for example, some sort of environmental regulation. But here the issue is whether private businesses should be allowed to discriminate on the basis of race. Equal treatment for minorities is a bedrock principle of our liberal democracy. While Paul says abhors the idea of racial discrimination, he is so ideologically devoted to private property rights that other considerations are immaterial. That's a really extreme position; most people respect property rights, but understand that a society sometimes has objectives that conflict with those rights. Balancing competing rights (and responsibilities) is at the heart of good governance, and what we see from this little contretemps is that Rand Paul, if elected, doesn't recognize any possible social good that can top the importance of property rights. If Rand Paul is elected to the Senate, he will never have an opportunity to vote to repeal the Civil Rights Act. He will have many, many opportunities, however, to vote on matters where private business rights come into conflict with other important principles. His beliefs are very typical of the libertarian mindset. They're logically consistent. But regardless of their consistency, he still would have had problems with the Civil Rights Act.* Mussolini's governing philosophy was internally consistent as well, but that didn't make fascism OK. *Edited to end a debate in the comments.