Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thoughts on Rand Paul

I guess I'll jump on this particular bandwagon.  There's not much to say about Paul, other than he clearly opposes the CRA's ban on private discrimination, but is now forced to backtrack out of political expediency.  What's really interesting is how Republicans are shocked, shocked that Paul opposes the CRA.  Paul's position on this issue was known to his GOP primary opponent, yet he didn't use it against him for the likely reason that it wouldn't have hurt and might have helped Paul among Republican primary voters.  Furthermore, the GOP pantheon is composed of politicians who opposed the CRA:  Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Barry Goldwater, Robert Bork, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan.  Indeed, the contemporary GOP emerged out of its opposition to civil rights.


Anonymous said...

I agree with the basic thrust of this post --- that the modern GOP congealed around the portion of the post-1964 GOP that was hostile to the civil rights movement. However, I think the post overstates the case a little bit. Three points:

(1) I highly doubt that opposition to the CRA is a helpful position in GOP primaries. If that were the case --- that a majority of GOP primary voters would prefer the CRA be repealed (or significantly weakened), we should be able to identify current House Members from heavily GOP districts who are on the record for repeal of the CRA. I do not know of such a Member.

(2)I assume Paul is taking a radical libertarian position on Title II of the CRA, not calling for repeal of the other titles.You seem to recognize this in the first sentence, but then go on to say that Paul "opposes the CRA."

It's not out of the realm of possibility that he opposes the entire CRA (he's clearly capable of outlandish positions!), but my assumption is that he is opposed only to bans on private discrimination, not the federal bans on state-mandated discrimination that are found in the other titles. Bans on school and public facilities segregation, discrimination in government agencies, and racial discrimination in voting applications all would be consistent to the traditional libertarian position on government treatment of individuals.

(3) That GPO "pantheon" is starting to look pretty dated. No matter how conservative modern GOP leaders are on race (and they are undoubtedly pretty conservative), I would guess the CRA is ancient settled law for Dole, Gingrich, W, McCain, Boehner, etc. This would not be possible if the majority of GOP voters did not feel --- or at least vote the same way.

Again, I don't object to your main thesis. But it seems like you want to sum to something like "the modern GOP is just the segregationists in disguise." I don't think that is a defensible statement.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty interesting how people try to rewrite history to make everything fit into their worldview. To try to suggest that the contemporary GOP emerged out of its opposition to the CRA is patently absurd. The only two pieces of evidence that I need to make that painfully obvious are the House and Senate votes on the bill. House Dems: 152 Yea, 96 Nay. House Republicans: 138 Yea, 34 Nay. Senate Dems: 46 Yea, 21 Nay. Senate Republicans: 27 Yea, 6 Nay.

Call me crazy, but those numbers make it appear as though opposition to the bill was stronger among Democrats (who happened to control almost all of the seats in the South). I would also be remiss if I failed to mention the fact that the late Robert Byrd (a lifelong Democrat and once-KKK member) led the Dixiecrat filibuster of the bill.

It baffles me that modern progressives have tried to high-jack civil rights and race issues as if their ideological forebears were such great champions of the causes of minorities and women. Do they forget that Woodrow Wilson (the father of the Progressive Movement) was a notorious racist and bigot? He just so happened to expand the practice of segregation in the Federal Government during his time in office to include all departments in the executive branch, not just the military. That's just one example of his unabashed and unapologetic racism; read his two-volume history of the United States for his full views.

One more inconvenient truth: The first major push for Civil Rights legislation began under Dwight Eisenhower (R), who was able to get two pieces, although less effective than the landmark 1964 Act, of Civil Rights legislation passed during his Presidency (Little Rock Nine ring a bell?).

The point is that racism and the fight against it cannot be associated solely with one party or the other. The practice of constantly using the issue of race as a political football to impugn the character of those with opposing views is a tired one.