29 May 2010

So now it's not just CRA

But they're making up other things about Rand Paul (and Ron for that matter, and the LP)...

"read the Libertarian Platform, the one adopted at the May 2008 convention in Denver that nominated Rand’s father, Ron, for president." -- That would have been nice (or okay I guess), except they nominated Bob Barr, whose record is a lot further off to the right on many civil liberties positions than Ron's, thus giving me a grave amount of mistrust that he would actually be somewhere to the left of most Republicans (and Democrats) on issues like civil liberties (PATRIOT act: voted yes), or the wars (supported Iraq), or the drug war (wrote some of the legislation), or abortion, gay rights (Ron Paul was one of the few Republicans who split off and voted to have the Pentagon repeal DADT in the House, kudos to him for listening to the military servicemen and women who explained the injustice to him).

"the fact that he is unambiguously pro-choice (“government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration”)" - the libertarian party and philosophy would indeed say this to be the case... but Rand Paul, and his dad for that matter, don't. Ron has said this should be left up to the states (with Roe repealed or nullified in some way), Rand, much further to the right, has said there should be a Constitutional amendment against abortion.

"pro-civil liberties (“we oppose reduction of constitutional safeguards of the rights of the criminally accused … the Bill of Rights provides no exceptions for a time of war”)" - Well yes, but Rand also still supposes that a prison with indefinite detention (like Guantanamo) can and should be kept open regardless of the fact that it fits neatly into those "exceptions" that we're not supposed to have.

"and pro-decriminalizing victimless crimes, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes." - I haven't actually seen Rand endorse this position openly, so nobody seems to know what he thinks about it. I thus heartily agree with the article that it would have been great to see some discussion on this topic.

"he and fellow libertarians also oppose the draft and the use of the U.S. military for any purpose other than “in defense of individual rights … The United States should both abandon its attempts to act as a policeman for the world and avoid entangling alliances.” For this reason Rand’s father, Ron, strongly opposed the Iraq war during the presidential campaign," - I'm pretty sure Rand opposes the draft (but I've not seen any evidence to that effect since nobody asks about the draft or, more properly, the NSS registration requirement for men over 18, it just keeps rolling right along like some awful machine), but I'm also pretty sure Rand (still) supports the Afghanistan war. Which Ron didn't, and doesn't, at least to the same extent.

The actual principles that he appears to have are much closer to paleoconservatism than libertarianism. That may still make him very useful to elect to high office, as there are very few paleoconservatives (and certainly few enough who are taken as anything other than as a raging racist like Pat Buchanan) to tackle the rampaging and insane neoconservatives, but it's not sensible for "us" to be forced to claim this man as our "man in the Congress". Ron may not be a strict "purity-tested" libertarian on a few social points (immigration being one, abortion another), but he's a lot closer than his kid is such that when people say he's a libertarian, it's not an insensible claim (I'd claim him more as a Constitutionalist, but close enough most of the time). It may be for political reasons that this gap emerges. It's harder to get into the Senate by being a "wacko", with very few ideologues of any variety than the centrist mainstream variety (which I regard as somewhat insane itself). Much less from Kentucky instead of a Texan Congressional district. Texas being the same place that put Charlie Wilson in Congress for example.

But even so, if these are the stated and available principles, they're not very libertarian. It isn't good enough to read off the Libertarian Party's platform and assume that's what he thinks anyway, just as it isn't good enough for a candidate to claim they are a Christian (which in this case, Rand has precisely stated he is not a libertarian) and assume to know what they think on everything. Where he departs from the stated orthodoxy, or in some way has formed his own opinion about what it means, it's kind of important to be aware of it. Where he has stated he is not something, and we must persist in tagging and cataloging as it nonetheless, it would do well to discern why he would protest our claims.

(I suppose it would be useful to explain the distinction. I see libertarians as being more trusting of individual or local decisions over institutional ones, conservatives the opposite, and as a result I see libertarian philosophy and principles as leading toward a tolerance of most social changes when they are governed by individual wants and demands over and above the conservative impulse to maintain the status quo; standing athwart history shouting "stop!". Certainly some of the paleoconservative intellectual responses to various programs and problems look a lot like libertarian or market solutions, on social welfare or race based policies like affirmative action, but these extensive freedoms are somewhat more limited when it comes to social policies like immigration, drugs, or gays for example because of the amount of social upheaval involved in institutions by these things)
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