It’s not often that a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky becomes a national political figure, but Rand Paul has been in the news a lot lately. First, it was for his surprising and convincing (and surprisingly convincing) win in the Republican primary for a Kentucky Senate seat two weeks ago, and then it was for his controversial statements about the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Basically, what Paul said about the Civil Rights Act, first on NPR and then on The Rachel Maddow Show, was that he did not support the Act’s regulation of private business, even though he stands behind the spirit of the bill and supports all the provisions of it that desegregate public institutions and repeal Jim Crow laws. Basically, there are 10 Titles of the Civil Rights Act, and Paul said he didn’t support Title II.
Now, I don’t agree with Paul’s view at all, but it’s not surprising or offensive to me. In fact, it’s perfectly consistent with Paul’s libertarian beliefs: Libertarians do not want the federal government to interfere with private business, and federally mandated desegregation of private businesses constitutes a regulation. Even though I disagree, I initially admired Paul’s intellectual consistency—unfortunately since the media hubbub about his comments, Paul has backed away from that intellectual fidelity. It’s also important to note that Paul did not say he wanted to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or even that he would have voted against the whole Act had he been in Congress at the time—he only said he had legitimate problems with one aspect of the law. Continue reading