We’re Not a Set-It-And-Forget-It Republic, Folks

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…

9 thoughts on “We’re Not a Set-It-And-Forget-It Republic, Folks”

  1. I also believe our Constitution was divinely inspired. So much so that they even put in place the proper mechanism to change it when necessary. It’s called the ammendment process and it has been used in the past and should be used again when changes are needed. The Constitution is the foundation of our nation and, as such, should not be subject to the flapping winds of the opinion of a few or for political expediency.

    As for the law Arizona has enacted, I both agree that they had to do it and they have every right to do so. Our state should do the same as should every other state that feels the need.

    It is ironic that you used the term head-in-the-sand to describe Rand Paul because that is precisely what the current administration is doing that makes it so necessary for Arizona to take this action in the first place. There is a remarkably similar federal law that has been on the books for some time that the federal government has refused to enforce simply because it is politically expedient to “stick-their-head-in-the-sand”. Obama knows that the only chance he has to be re-elected is to win the Latino vote. Unfortunately for him, the people are now on to his socialist agenda and, unless he lurches suddenly to the right which I don’t believe he can do, he most likely will be history after his first term. His “fundamentally change America”, “progressive”, “re-distribute the wealth” ideas are pure socialism which has failed everywhere it has been tried. And his foreign policy ideas are just downright dangerous and destructive.

    Now, as for Rand Paul, I really don’t know all that much about him. However, I would suggest you ought to stop relying so heavily on what the so-called “mainstream” media is saying about this or anything else for that matter. They, and the AP, in particular, have become simply the main propaganda arm of the extreme left and they are desperate to undermine the Tea Party movement. A voice in the wilderness, specifically Glenn Beck and others, has done a great job of digging up and exposing the radical left agenda. People are responding to the Tea Party movement because they recognize the truth and realize that something must be done. The silent majority is NOT going to be silent any more. I did watch an entire interview of Rand Paul in which every single point he brought up, I absolutely agree with. I didn’t see the interview that the AP article you referenced writes about but I can tell from the way it is written that it has been deliberately written to make him appear in the worst possible light. As I said, they’re (the radical left) desperate.

    Now, regarding your comments about the political spectrum, the Republicans have already tried moving to the center and that has nearly destroyed the Republican party and may yet result in the destruction of our nation. Unfortunately, when the Republican party moved toward the center, instead of moving toward the center themselves, the Democratic party lurched to the far left. The really bad thing about it is that it isn’t even really the Democratic party that has done this but rather a cabal of power brokers at the top that have seized control of the democratic party. A great many democrats realize this and don’t support it. And that’s where the Tea Party movement comes in. The Tea Party has no desire to become a third party. A main goal of the Tea Party movement is to help the Republican party move back to basic conservative principles and to help the Democratic party to move back toward the center. The founders placed us just left of total anarchy but far right of the center. We are now significantly left of center and the nation cannot survive for long unless we move much closer to where the founders carefully placed us.

    You mentioned systemic problems. The truly systemic problems are the gigantic growth of the federal government, the associated explosion of federal spending and resulting debt, the completely unreasonable intrusion of the federal government into almost every aspect of life, the vast expansion of the power of the executive branch of the federal government, the destructive over-regulation and taxation of business and the resulting destruction of our economy, and our ability to remain a world power, the disastrous shift toward more and more entitlement programs and resulting reliance on government instead of self reliance. On all of these truly systemic problems, Rand Paul is dead on. I may not agree with everything Rand Paul says or believes but, on these truly major problems, I absolutely agree with his views.

    In the end, you are absolutely right, we should not be a “Set-It-And-Forget-It” republic. But we absolutely must be a “Remember-It” and “Remember-Why-It-Was-Set-That-Way” republic. If we don’t we won’t be a free nation for much longer.

  2. Well rebutted.

    It’s possible that I painted the Tea Party movement with too broad a brush. I actually believe in the fiscal responsibility tenet of the Tea Party movement. I don’t think we should have any programs we can’t pay for, and government spending IS too high.

    However, it doesn’t change Rand Paul’s problem, which was the original impetus for my post. His position is that he doesn’t think the Federal government should have enforced the civil rights act on local businesses. I understand the ideology and philosophy behind his argument (keeping the government out of private businesses), but this is clearly an example where one has to tint their ideology with the reality of our world and the reality of government. And that’s my concern about electing a bunch of Tea Party candidates; that they won’t have the tools necessary to deal in the reality of the current state of our government. Sure, they might provide a solid right-wing anchor by caucusing and threatening no votes and filibusters, but they will generally be considered a caucus to be overcome to get anything done in Congress, rather than a group which can originate or lead legislative efforts to accomplish important objectives or solve problems of national significance.

    To further illustrate this, I will say that I believe the government spends WAY too much on defense and intelligence. The military budget alone is $700 Billion. The intelligence budget is classified, but you’d be silly to assume (especially in post-911 world) that it’s any less. We’re spending trillions of dollars to spy on and blow up our fellow brothers and sisters around the world. Ideologically, I’m completely opposed to that spending. I don’t believe in killing my fellow humans. However, I live in the reality of our world – which is that people want to kill us and take what we have away. I would never campaign on the notion that I think we should kill defense department, but essentially that’s what Rand Paul is doing – campaigning on a principle (which is OK) but not properly applying that principle to the reality of our world, our history, or our current government.

    I think the Tea Party could be a productive movement, creating balance in government and tempering spending, but only if they can find a few candidates with experience and political savvy who are willing to strike compromises on their ideology in order to actually accomplish some of their strategic objectives.

  3. I’m not sure where you got the idea that Rand Paul wants to kill the defense department but as I said, I really don’t know all that much about him. So I went out to his own website: http://www.randpaul2010.com/issues/

    Here is what he says about defense:
    “Defending our Country is the most important function of the federal government. When we are threatened, it is the obligation of our representatives to unleash the full arsenal of power that is granted by and derived from free men and women.”
    He continues:

    “-Rand Paul

    I believe that the primary Constitutional function of the federal government is national defense, bar none.

    I believe our greatest national security threat is our lack of security at the border. On 9/11, 16 of 19 hijackers were here on ‘legal’ student Visas but were not in school or in the states they were supposed to be in.

    Ten years later we are still not policing who we grant Visas to. We gave a Visa to a Nigerian who had made two trips to Yemen, bought a one way ticket with cash and no baggage and his dad tipped off the US Embassy that he had been radicalized.

    I propose a moratorium on Visas from about ten rogue nations or anybody that has traveled to those nations. I would keep this in place until our government proves they can manage intelligently our Visa process.

    I believe we try the terrorists captured on the battlefield in military tribunals at GITMO. I do not believe in trying them in civilian court.

    I believe that when we must fight, we declare war as the Constitution mandates and we fight to win. That we fight only under US Commander and not the UN.

    I believe that defending this country is the primary and most important Constitutional function of our federal government.”

  4. No, I wasn’t saying Rand Paul was against defense spending.

    I was illustrating how one of MY personal beliefs (that we shouldn’t kill our fellow men and women) would be an untenable political position for me to campaign on, and how, if I ever were to campaign, my personal political platform couldn’t be built on my ideological wish that we didn’t need to have a military. I would have the responsibility to acknowledge the reality of our world and understand the importance of defense spending, in spite of the fact that, ideologically, I wish we could “beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks”.

    I think for Tea Party candidates to be successful on the campaign trail and especially in the halls of congress, they have to temper their ideological beliefs (that the government shouldn’t force businesses to do anything) with the reality of the state of our society (if the government hadn’t forced the south to integrate, there would have been more violence and innocent bloodshed).

    If Rand Paul is so entrenched in his own dogma that he can’t acknowledge such a clear cut, historical reality on a TV interview (that it took justifiable federal force to protect citizens of color and integrate the south), I certainly don’t think he has the capacity or clarity of mind to judge present issues and accurately represent an entire state of our union.

  5. Ah yes, I did misunderstand what you wrote relative to killing defense. My bad. Thanks for straightening that up.

    But I think you are still way off base on your general premise that Rand Paul is too entrenched in some kind of dogma. But then, I didn’t see the interview that apparently got you so up in arms. So, maybe if I had actually seen the entire interview, I might be more inclined to agree with you.

    On the other hand, is it possible that Rand Paul was attacked and smeared by a liberal interviewer and his liberal opponent? He seems to think so, again from his own website:

    Rand Paul Sets the Record Straight
    Published on 20 May 2010 by Jesse in General News
    0 In response to liberal media attacks, Dr. Rand Paul today released the following statement:

    “I believe we should work to end all racism in American society and staunchly defend the inherent rights of every person. I have clearly stated in prior interviews that I abhor racial discrimination and would have worked to end segregation. Even though this matter was settled when I was 2, and no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points, I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    “Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws.

    “As I have said in previous statements, sections of the Civil Rights Act were debated on Constitutional grounds when the legislation was passed. Those issues have been settled by federal courts in the intervening years

    “My opponent’s statement on MSNBC Wednesday that I favor repeal of the Civil Rights Act was irresponsible and knowingly false. I hope he will correct the record and retract his claims.”

    “The issue of civil rights is one with a tortured history in this country. We have made great strides, but there is still work to be done to ensure the great promise of Liberty is granted to all Americans.

    “This much is clear: The federal government has far overreached in its power grabs. Just look at the recent national healthcare schemes, which my opponent supports. The federal government, for the first time ever, is mandating that individuals purchase a product. The federal government is out of control, and those who love liberty and value individual and state’s rights must stand up to it.

    “These attacks prove one thing for certain: the liberal establishment is desperate to keep leaders like me out of office, and we are sure to hear more wild, dishonest smears during this campaign.”

    Doesn’t sound like dogma to me. In fact, it sounds entirely reasonable!

    This is great! Thanks to you I’ve leaned a whole lot more about Rand Paul than I knew before and the more I learn, the more I like about him. But then, I’m not listening to the liberal media either.

  6. Yes, it was the interview with Rachal Maddow that sent me over the edge on this. You can watch the interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3O2rBz9gwo (Part 1) and here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqAAfSfap5w (Part 2)

    The part that bothered me is that he couldn’t simply say “yes” to the question ‘Was it right for the Federal government to pass and enforce the Civil Rights Act on local businessmen of the South?’ In my (and I think most people’s) opinion, it was absolutely the right thing to do at the time because those business owners would not have integrated without a federal mandate and consequent enforcement by state authorities. The terrible violence and segregation would have continued without federal imposition. In the CONTEXT of the situation, Federal imposition was the right thing to do.

    Rand Paul can’t admit this. He won’t let past his lips that it was OK for the Federal government to put this mandate on businesses. It’s this fierce attachment to ideal of no government intrusion into business that bothers me, that I’ve been driving at in these comments. I think he puts that personal belief before doing what is good for the nation, as has been exposed by this line of questioning.

    Granted, this is a well-crafted corner to paint Rand Paul into, and it was likely concocted by someone with intentions to make him look bad. Whether it was the evil mainstream media, or some left wing think tank, or some random blogger – doesn’t matter to me. It just shows how hard he clings to the libertarian ideology, which is too hard for my tastes. If he answered “yes”, he doesn’t look like the libertarian, right winger that he purports to be, and if he answers “no” he looks like a racist, segregationist, and really really backwards. Had he lived in the 1860’s he likely would have been in favor of just letting the south secede. 🙂

    I dont’ think Rand Paul is a racist, nor do I think he wants to repeal the Civil Rights Act. I just think he’s not ready to be a Congressman.

  7. I finally had time to review the Madoff interview and I don’t feel she handled it too poorly. One could argue that it was a well crafted attack but one could also argue that she was just doing her journalistic duty to hone in on a potential problem. It will be interesting to see if she, likewise, at some point in the next few months, interviews his opponent and similarly hones in on a potential problem that his opponent has. If she does an interview of his opponent and you happen to catch it, I’d be interested to see it and see if she, likewise, exercises her journalistic duty.

    As for my impressions of Rand Paul, now that I’ve actually seen the interview, I don’t have a problem with his views. In fact, I was impressed with how gracefully he handled the tough interview.

    I don’t think he ever said that he would have ended up voting against the final bill. He did say he would have attempted to change the one part with which he disagreed. I was impressed with the way he indicated that he would have acted during the law making process. Law making causes one to have to make some very difficult choices because rarely does a proposed bill have only, and exactly, what you want. So, you fight to get rid of, or change, what you don’t want and to keep what you do want. In the end, you are almost always faced with a difficult decision if there are still some bad things left in the bill. Is that bad part just so bad that it overrides all the rest of the good parts? Or, does the sum of the good parts exceed the bad part? He never answered how he would have decided and I don’t think it would be useful if he did answer because he will never face that exact same decision again.

    As for his stand against government intrusion into private business, let’s consider this question. Is there any limit to what the Federal government can and cannot force upon private business? To analyze this question, let’s consider something that is current but maybe tests the extreme. It is a well documented fact that obesity is a major problem in the US and greatly contributes to the rising health care costs. Should the Federal government be allowed to pass a law banning restaurants from serving meals that exceed a certain calorie count? Although this might be in the best interest of the public, I think such a law far exceeds the proper role of the Federal government.

    Here’s another example. We believe gambling to be dangerous, addicting, and potentially ruinous to family relationsips and finances. Should the Federal government pass a law to ban all gambling? Although I disagree with gambling, I do not believe the Federal government has any business being involved in it, either for or against. This is an issue which is much more appropriately handled at a more local level.

    Now, Rand Paul was trying to make the point that parts of the country had already solved the segregation issue in private businesses and didn’t require the Federal government to do it. They did it on their own because it was the right thing to do. He fully supported all the parts of the Civil Rights Act that affected publicly funded organizations. So, do you think it is possible that, if they had passed the nine parts of the act that involved use of public funds, businesses in most parts of the country would have eventually eliminated that bad practice because it was the right thing to do rather than be forced to do it by Federal law? I think it is possible and should have been tried. So, in the end, on this particular issue, I guess I agree with Rand Paul, but it’s a tough call.

    And finally, even if I didn’t agree on that one very particular issue, we have far too many legislators clamoring for more and more government intrusion into our lives and into private business. We desperately need legislators who will fight against that destructive tide. In fact, we need a whole bunch more like Rand Paul.

  8. Oh, RAND Paul. For one crazy, sleep-deprived second I thought Rupaul was a libertarian. Well, that would just be silly. Don’t mind me.

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