Rand Paul’s huge gaffe on the civil rights act exacerbates why I find the libertarian platform untenable; they are for, generally, doing nothing.
Rand Paul is arguing that the government shouldn’t have imposed the civil rights act on businesses. Uhh… so let me ask: if the government shouldn’t have the power to force businesses and individuals to do what they judge is in the common good of our society, then how was it going to get done? By making p0lite suggestions and pass non-binding resolutions, hoping that everyone complies?
Most of the libertarian solutions to our national problems start and end with: not my problem. Somehow, in my opinion, making it someone else’s problem doesn’t help anything. If African-Americans are being discriminated against in parts of our country… nah – it’s a local problem.
I just don’t buy that position.
I love the Constitution of our nation. I believe it is one of the most innovative and excellent document crafted on government. I even believe that is was divinely inspired. However, I do not believe the Founders intended to form a set-it-and-forget-it republic. I do not believe the Constitution should be the beginning and end of every discussion on government.
See, we started with a smallish national government. It was that way for a long time. Then we had this little thing called The Civil War. When a Abraham Lincoln (a republican) indefatigably insisted that this country would stand united, even if it took shedding hundreds of thousands of our own American lives, our government changed in a way that we can only look back now and fully understand and appreciate. The idea that the Federal government could (and did) forcibly prevent secession changed the Federal government forever and started at least a hundred year period of expansion of the powers and promises of our Federal government. Two World Wars and a Cold War further fueled that federal expansion.
That is why I don’t believe the Constitution can be the end of all political discussion. We simply don’t live in the country (or world) that the Founders left us. Things have changed significantly, and our society has learned and evolved over time.
We should still have discussions over small government/large government. Jefferson/Madison and Adams/Hamilton were the first to have these long, drawn out disputes over the role of federal vs state governments. Both philosophies made significant contributions to the character of the early Republic. It’s healthy to ask whether we are doing the right thing almost every time we embark to do something, however, putting people in office who want to categorically reject the past 200 years of governmental evolution to strictly adhere to a document that ignored women and counted some human beings as 3/5 of a person based on their race and social standing is a bad idea. We need thoughtful, courageous people in our chambers of government who can live in the present reality of government and can work with each other to craft moderate, innovative solutions to our national problems, while maintaining the balance of powers and individual rights embedded in our constitution and its amendments.
Sometimes those solutions might be to do nothing. And that’s OK with me, too.
But for systemic, national problems, we can’t allow our federal government to hide behind libertarian dogma. If a problem is being faced by our nation as a whole, it is best to use our national government to solve it.
We can clearly see what happens when a state takes on a national issue with Arizona’s new immigration law. While I encourage and appreciate their commitment to the rule of law (and the enforcement of that law) they should realize that they are only creating problems for other border states. Keeping illegal immigrants out of their state only exacerbates the problem for California, New Mexico and Texas, while driving existing illegal immigrants northward to other states which were previously much less affected by illegal immigration (and likely ill equipped to handle it).
When a single state acts alone in response to a national issue, all they do is start a game of whack-a-mole. Similar cases can be drawn around abortion, civil rights, economic and business issues, and more. But I’ll spare you the incitement.
With the right moving righter and the left moving lefter, all we are doing is increasing the part of Washington we all hate – the bickering, fighting, and partisanship, dooming Congress to constant gridlock and inevitable inaction on every issue that comes to them. Sending the moderates home who have relationships in Congress and who aren’t afraid to work across the aisle will only worsen the party politics we are all so tired of.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of this year works out.
I can see the possibility where Rand Paul and others who are taking hostages at Republican primaries around the country are setting the conservatives of America up for a big disappointment in the fall. Sure, they can win a few well-stocked primaries, but can they win a statewide election? With their mouths running like Paul, the simple answer is no. No self-respecting state could possibly elect a person with such a head-in-the-sand approach to looking at the current state of our society.
Well, at least maybe a student of all history (not just 18th century history) wouldn’t…