Rand Paul And The Religious Right

The worst thing about the alliance between libertarians and Republicans is that Republican values wound off replacing older libertarian views for many libertarians. Whether or not you agree with them, at least old time libertarians did hold a pro-freedom philosophy which is not seen in the theocratic views of people like Ron and Rand Paul. While they support limitations on the federal government, the libertarianism of such people is more authoritarian and theocratic on the state and local level.

Liam Fox provides several examples of Rand Paul’s connections to the religious right in a post entitled Rand Paul: Small government but BIG church, beginning with the Concerned Women for America:

Rand Paul, a Constitutional Conservative, and Tea Party candidate for Kentucky Senator, has established an interesting, and seemingly contradictory, platform for his campaign. While being a strong advocate for what he refers to, yet, like many others, fails to define, as smaller government, Dr. Paul is equally as committed to increasing the power and influence of the Christian church in every aspect of that Government.

Paul, according to his own site, is proud to have the endorsement of the far-Right theocratic organization, Concerned Women for America. His site boasts that his “socially conservative views have earned the respect and trust of church leaders across Kentucky.”

Here is how Concerned Women for America describe their views on their web site:

CWA is built on prayer and action.

We are the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization with a rich 30-year history of helping our members across the country bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.

What We Do

We help people focus on six core issues, which we have determined need Biblical principles most and where we can have the greatest impact. At its root, each of these issues is a battle over worldviews.

We have several active departments in our national office in Washington, D.C.

CWA is a unique blend of policy experts and an activist network of people in small towns and big cities across the country working to address mutually held goals and concerns. Meet the CWA spokespersons. CWA works with many other groups around the country. Find these and other sources of information on our links page.

Mission Statement

The mission of CWA is to protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens – first through prayer, then education, and finally by influencing our society – thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation.

Rand Paul’s ties to the religious right extend beyond CWA. Paul has received the support of James Dobson. He was the featured guest and speaker at the Constitutional Party’s Liberty Banquet.  The Constitution Party. The party describes its goal as “to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations.”

Fox’s post also outlines other connections between Paul and the religious right. As first became apparent with the controversy over Paul’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act, his philosophy takes aspects of libertarian rhetoric but lacks true support for freedom.

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Rand Paul’s View On The Civil Rights Act Displays More On The Fallacy of Libertarianism Than On Racism

Rand Paul’s position on the Civil Rights Act has raised questions of racism. Such questions are understandable considering the racist writings of his father, Ron Paul, and the connections by both of them to racist elements of the right wing. Rand’s position actually says far more about the fallacious thinking of many libertarians as opposed to saying anything conclusive about his racial beliefs.

Libertarians and true small government conservatives could oppose the Civil Rights Act without being at all racist due their general opposition to government action. This is the major problem with libertarianism–confusing opposition to government with liberty in all situations and denying that at times government action can be beneficial.

If we were dealing with isolated business establishments refusing to do business with African Americans then I would agree there would be no need for government action, and would hope that market forces would punish those who restricted their potential customers. The reality is that market forces did not work here, as Bruce Bartlett explained:

As we know from history, the free market did not lead to a breakdown of segregation. Indeed, it got much worse, not just because it was enforced by law but because it was mandated by self-reinforcing societal pressure. Any store owner in the South who chose to serve blacks would certainly have lost far more business among whites than he gained. There is no reason to believe that this system wouldn’t have perpetuated itself absent outside pressure for change.

In short, the libertarian philosophy of Rand Paul and the Supreme Court of the 1880s and 1890s gave us almost 100 years of segregation, white supremacy, lynchings, chain gangs, the KKK, and discrimination of African Americans for no other reason except their skin color. The gains made by the former slaves in the years after the Civil War were completely reversed once the Supreme Court effectively prevented the federal government from protecting them. Thus we have a perfect test of the libertarian philosophy and an indisputable conclusion: it didn’t work. Freedom did not lead to a decline in racism; it only got worse.

James Joyner is another who has found justification for the Civil Rights Act, while maintaining understandable concern about further expansion of government involvement in what should be private business decisions:

There’s no question in my mind that private individuals have a right to freely associate, that telling owners of private businesses whom they must serve amounts to an unconstitutional taking, and that it’s none of the Federal government’s business, anyway.   Further, in the context of 2010 America, I absolutely think that business owners ought to be able to serve whomever they damned well please — whether it’s a bar owner wishing to cater to smokers, a racist wanting to exclude blacks, or a member of a subculture wishing to carve out a place for members of said subculture to freely associate with only their kind out of purely benign purposes.

The problem, circa 1964, was that there really was not right to freely associate in this manner in much of the country.   Even once state-mandated segregation was ended, the community put enormous pressure on business owners to maintain the policy.   That meant that, say, a hotel owner who wished to rent rooms without regard to color really weren’t free to do so.   More importantly, it meant that, say, a black traveling salesman couldn’t easily conduct his business without an in-depth knowledge of which hotels, restaurants, and other establishments catered to blacks.   Otherwise, his life would be inordinately frustrating and, quite possibly, dangerous.

In such an environment, the discrimination is institutionalized and directly affecting interstate commerce.   It was therefore not unreasonable for the Federal government to step in using their broad powers under the 14th Amendment.    I’m still not sure parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (especially the issue in question here) or the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (especially treating individual states differently from others) are strictly Constitutional.   But they were necessary and proper in the context of the times.

The Civil Rights Act was a situation in which government action led to increased freedom, contrary to libertarian beliefs. A strict libertarian would be expected to oppose the Civil Rights Act out of consistency in opposing any government action. However, in the real world a very large percentage of libertarians do not strictly adhere to libertarian views in all cases. While there are some anarcho-capitalists who share the beliefs of libertarians such as Murray Rothbard, many libertarians do find exceptions where they do support government action.

Rand Paul’s position here very well could be a consequence of mindless consistency in following libertarian dogma but there are reasons he cannot easily escape being tainted with racism here unless he makes a meaningful effort to dispel this. One problem Rand Paul has is that he has already made so many compromises with libertarianism, from supporting restrictions on civil liberties to supporting using government to interfere with a woman’s right to chose to have an abortion. I would understand if a pure libertarian cold not support government intervention to stop the type of infringements on liberty which were present prior to the Civil Rights Act. It is harder to understand why Rand Paul could not make another exception when he has already compromised libertarian principles to such a great extent.

The other questions surrounding Rand Paul might be matters of guilt by association, but they do create an even greater need now for Paul to distance himself from the racist elements of the far right which he associates with. It is understandable that he would not want to disassociate himself from his father but speaking at a rally of the racist and theocratic Constitution Party in 2009 is a different matter. Regardless of whether Rand Paul has any racist feelings, there is little doubt that his public statements on the Civil Rights Act are going to lead to some expressions of support from racist groups. It will be interesting to see if Rand Paul does the right thing and refuses to associate with them and refuses their contributions. His father failed this test, losing the support of many libertarians, in contrast to Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr who did have the integrity to repudiate their support.

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Third Party Presidential Candidate Results

While thrid party candidates have won some local offices, they did not have a meaningful effect on the presidential race. Straight Talk has summarized the results of the major third party candidates:

In 2004, Independent Candidate, Ralph Nader earned .38% of the total vote with 463,655 votes and in 2008 so far, Ralph Nader has earned 656,670 votes which equals to.53% of the total vote thus far.

In 2004, Libertarian Party Candidate, Michael Badnarik earned .32% of the total vote with 397,265 votes and in 2008 so far, Libertarian Candidate Bob Barr earned 488,873 votes which equals to .40% of the total vote thus far

In 2004, Constitution Party candidate, Michael Peroutka earned .12% of the total vote with 143,630 votes and in 2008 so far, Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin earned 174,634 votes which equals to .14% of the total vote thus far.

In 2004, Green Party candidate David Cobb earned .10% of the total vote with 119,859 votes and in 2008 so far, Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney earned 142,785 votes which equals to roughly .12% of the total vote thus far.

These results are with 98 percent of the vote in so the popular vote totals might get a little higher for some but the percentages are unlikely to change significantly. Overall the third party candidates only received about one percent of the vote. As might be expected with a higher turn out, all four received more votes than their party four years go. They also have increased their percentage of the vote, but not by enough to be meaningful.

Many Libertarians were disappointed that the Libertarian Party nominated what they considered a conservative Republican ticket with Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root. Many voted for the nomination of Barr believing that, being better known, he might be able to receive a significantly higher vote total than previous nominees. It didn’t turn out this way as seen by a review of all the results for all of the Libertarian Party presidential candidates:

LIBERTARIAN PARTY

2008 (Barr) 0.4% (45 states)
2004 (Badnarik) 0.3% (48 states plus DC)
2000 (Browne) 0.4% (49 states plus DC, plus Smith in Arizona)
1996 (Browne) 0.5% (50 states plus DC)
1992 (Marrou) 0.3% (50 states plus DC)
1988 (Paul) 0.5% (46 states plus DC)
1984 (Bergland) 0.3% (39 states)
1980 (Clark) 1.1% (50 states plus DC)
1976 (MacBride) 0.2% (32 states)
1972 (Hospers) statistically insignificant (2 states)

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Ron Paul Endorses Candidate of Theocratic Constitution Party

During the primary campaigns I often described Ron Paul as being far more a conservative than a libertarian. While the topic was addressed multiple times, this post (also posted at The Carpetbagger Report) summarized many of the earlier posts and even speculated on a relationship between Ron Paul and the Constitution Party. Ron Paul has now endorsed Chuck Baldwin, the candidate of the Constitution Party as opposed to Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate. Paul’s statement is available here.

Bob Barr differs significantly from Ron Paul, especially in not expressing the racism in Paul’s earlier writings, his repudiation of the support of racists and other extremists which Paul actively solicited, and in not engaging in the nutty conspiracy theories which Paul and Baldwin believe in. While Paul’s decision was based partially on Barr’s refusal to attend his recent third party press conference, It came as no surprise to me to see Paul endorse the Constitution Party based upon the similarity in their views. Check out Chuck Baldwin in this video and you will see how much he is like Ron Paul as he seeks the “truth” about 9/11:

Hopefully this endorsement exposes once and for all that Paul, while appropriating the language of liberty, is a far right wing extremist, not a libertarian, whose agenda would ultimately decrease freedom. While some libertarians have been duped into backing him by his rhetoric, the Paul movement ultimately became one dominated by racists, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, and other far right extremists who have no understanding of or support for individual liberty. They wish to reduce the authority of the federal government and the Bill of Rights not to promote liberty but to allow each state to establish their own authoritarian and theocratic rules.

The party which Paul now endorses describes itself as being devoted to restoring “our law to its Biblical foundations” right on the front page of its web site. Reason has further information on Baldwin and the Constitution Party. They advise reading out his columns:

You can read opinions like this:

If America wishes to remain a free and independent republic, if this nation truly desires future peace and prosperity, and if we genuinely aspire to remain a blessed and protected land, we must quickly throw off this foolish infatuation with multiculturalism, which is nothing more than an attempt to de- Christianize our country, and humbly return to the God of our fathers!

And this:

Call it what you want – “New World Order,” “International Order,” “International Community,” “World Law.” It all means the end of U.S. sovereignty and independence. Americans need to be aware that power hungry politicians from both parties along with money hungry executives from multinational corporations pose a much greater threat to our liberties than any foreign terrorist does.

And this, from 9/14/01:

For nearly a half-century, we have forsaken the moral principles of Heaven. We have legally murdered too many unborn babies. We have too readily accepted aberrant, sexual behavior. We kicked Heaven out of our schools, out of our homes, and out of our hearts. As a result, God is giving us a little taste of Hell.

Ron Paul has managed to destroy the legacy of what began as a remarkable campaign, but by now it no longer matters as the libertarian aspects of his campaign died long ago.

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Update on Sarah Palin’s Extremist Associations

Newspaper reports yesterday quoted the chairwoman of the Alaska Independence Party as saying Sarah Palin was a member. Today she has retracted her statement that Palin was a member.

While it appears that Sarah Palin herself was not a member, her husband Todd was a member until 2002 (when Sarah began to seek state-wide office running for lieutenant governor). Via Ezra Klein we also found that the AIP is the Alaska affiliate of the Constitution Party. The Constitution Party is a far right theocratic organization which seeks to place the country under Biblical law.

The McCain campaign was therefore correct when they denied Palin’s membership in hte AIP. However Palin has spoken before this group expressing support for their views and her husband was an actual member. Imagine if Michelle Obama was found to have been a member of such an extremist group on the left and that Barack had similarly spoken before such a group expressing support for their views.

We don’t even need to go that far. Obama has been attacked by the right (along with the Clinton campaign which used tactics indistinguishable from those of the right) for serving on a bipartisan board with sixties radical William Ayers despite having condemned the extremist actions performed by Ayers when Obama was eight years old.

The previous reports that Palin supported Patrick Buchanan are also in doubt. Patrick Buchanan has stated that she was a supporter of his third party campaign after old news stories surfaced showing Palin wearing a Buchanan badge. Palin claims that appearing in public wearing such a badge, as well as speaking to the AIP, do not indicate support for such groups but that she was merely welcoming such groups to her city.

Again return to the Barack Obama test. If Obama wore the badge of a far left third party candidate visiting Illinois, or if he spoke before such a group, how would the right wing interpret this? Maybe Palin was just being an exuberant hostess, but I remain concerned by the manner in which this has occurred with extremists such as Patrick Buchanan and the AIP. Has Palin had any similar appearances with groups which support defense of our civil liberties, which support abortion rights, or which defend our heritage of separation of church and state?

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Michael Bloomberg States He Is Not Running For President

Michael Bloomberg has an op-ed in The New York Times in which he states he is not going to run for president but continues to urge candidates to take an independent approach:

More of the same won’t do, on the economy or any other issue. We need innovative ideas, bold action and courageous leadership. That’s not just empty rhetoric, and the idea that we have the ability to solve our toughest problems isn’t some pie-in-the-sky dream. In New York, working with leaders from both parties and mayors and governors from across the country, we’ve demonstrated that an independent approach really can produce progress on the most critical issues, including the economy, education, the environment, energy, infrastructure and crime.

I believe that an independent approach to these issues is essential to governing our nation — and that an independent can win the presidency. I listened carefully to those who encouraged me to run, but I am not — and will not be — a candidate for president. I have watched this campaign unfold, and I am hopeful that the current campaigns can rise to the challenge by offering truly independent leadership. The most productive role that I can serve is to push them forward, by using the means at my disposal to promote a real and honest debate.

In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to work to steer the national conversation away from partisanship and toward unity; away from ideology and toward common sense; away from sound bites and toward substance. And while I have always said I am not running for president, the race is too important to sit on the sidelines, and so I have changed my mind in one area. If a candidate takes an independent, nonpartisan approach — and embraces practical solutions that challenge party orthodoxy — I’ll join others in helping that candidate win the White House.

The changes needed in this country are straightforward enough, but there are always partisan reasons to take an easy way out. There are always special interests that will fight against any challenge to the status quo. And there are always those who will worry more about their next election than the health of our country.

These forces that prevent meaningful progress are powerful, and they exist in both parties. I believe that the candidate who recognizes that the party is over — and begins enlisting all of us to clean up the mess — will be the winner this November, and will lead our country to a great and boundless future.

I’m not at all surprised. It has appeared for a while that Bloomberg was waiting to see who the nominees from the major political parties would be before deciding whether he would run. Back when there was first speculation about Bloomberg running I wrote that, while chances for a third party victory would be remote under any circumstance, his chances would be best if the election pitted John Edwards against Mike Huckabee. This would provide the greatest opportunity to pick up voters from each party who would be unhappy with the nominee and might be willing to consider a socially liberal and economically moderate candidate.

It is clear that the race will not be between Edwards and Huckabee, despite Huckabee remaining in the race. The worst situation for Bloomberg would be an election between Barack Obama and John McCain. It now appears virtually certain that McCain will be the Republican nominee and Obama has become a strong favorite to win the Democratic nomination. This combination will not leave enough voters from either party who would gamble on a third party bid by someone with his viewpoints. Instead any challenges this year will be more likely to come from the extreme left and extreme right, which will not have any chance at victory. Ralph Nader has entered the race but is no longer taken seriously by very many. It is possible that there will be a conservative challenge to McCain, but most conservative Republicans will probably remain loyal to their party. The Libertarian Party and the theocratic Constitution Party will continue to run candidates from the right, but they will have no more impact than Ralph Nader.

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Ron Paul As Conservative, Not Defender of Freedom

Seeing Ron Paul debate his fellow Republicans on Iraq, and even criticize their lack of respect for civil liberties, brought Paul justifiably favorable attention. This has included the support of some liberals who have not looked carefully at Paul’s views beyond these issues. Paul has lost a considerable amount of respect the last few days after an article in The New Republic reported on the racist writings in his newsletter, but there were reasons for both liberals and libertarians to question Paul even before these revelations.

To bring those up to speed who might not have followed the events of past week, The New Republic‘s exposure of racist writings in Ron Paul’s newsletter was the final straw after which many libertarians who had previously ignored Paul’s past realized they must disassociate themselves from Paul if they wished to retain any credibility. I have quoted the responses of several libertarians here and here. Paul’s defense was that the articles were ghost written by others and that he had not read the articles. He also claimed that he disagreed with the views expressed.

Back in November I discussed how libertarians were beginning to dissociate themselves from Ron Paul, and even half jokingly suggested that Reason would eventually do so on its cover to differentiate themselves from Paul’s markedly non-libertarian views. This week Reason clearly did realize the danger to their reputation in being linked to Paul. This led to Reason doing investigative work to debunk Paul’s defense.

Reason has reviewed public statements from Paul over the years which are quite incriminating. At times Paul defended the writings, and the context of the news reports suggests Paul was aware of them even if a ghost writer assisted him. For example, the May 22, 1996 Dallas Morning News contains this (emphasis mine): “Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation.”

This hardly sounds like someone who is either denying that he wrote the articles or denying that he agrees with what is published. My post on this topic yesterday includes another quote from a libertarian, Megan McArdle, which further debunks the arguments of many of Paul’s supporters, as well as dismissing the question of whether it matters if Paul is personally a racist or enabling racism.

I’ve been following Ron Paul at Liberal Values for quite a while. Initially, despite some disagreements, I found aspects of his campaign to be of interest. Besides his views on Iraq and civil liberties, I saw Paul’s campaign as a sign of the general anti-government sentiment in the country, which liberals would be wise not to ignore. As I continued to follow Paul, and reviewed his writings well before The New Republic did, I found many disturbing aspects beyond the questions of racism.

One policy I generally followed in my criticism of Paul’s views was to hold him to a standard of supporting freedom, but generally ignored disagreements based upon basic libertarian views. We might disagree with Paul over issues such as eliminating certain government programs, but in discussing libertarians that goes with the territory. Such disagreements with liberals are to be expected. Objections are much more interesting when they pertain to areas in which the so-called libertarian’s views are contrary to principles of individual liberty.

Paul’s views are far better characterized as social conservatism with extreme support for states’ rights as opposed to libertarianism. Despite his reputation as a libertarian, Paul is actually hostile towards First Amendment rights where they conflict with his religious views. Besides the Iraq war, and related abuses in the “war on terror,” the greatest threat we now face to civil liberties comes from the religious right.

As I’ve previously noted, Paul has incorrectly claimed that, “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers.” He has also supported keeping “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, has co-sponsored the school prayer amendment, and supported keeping the Ten Commandments on a courthouse lawn. Paul has both criticized secularism and claimed that the founding fathers envisioned a Christian America. Paul has supported the Sanctity of Life Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, and the Marriage Protection Act.

(more…)

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