This article was updated at 10:04 am Thursday, May 20th to replace the video originally embedded with the correct video intended for this piece.
Rand Paul, the Tea Party candidate who won the Kentucky Republican nomination for Senate in last night’s election, is one scary dude. And like other scary dudes coming out from under a rock to face the national media he is finding that his politics of division and hatred don’t transfer very well under the harsh glare of fact and sanity.
Paul is an anti-government, anti-establisment agitator who ran on a platform of shaking up Washington, and “taking our government back.” To him that means possibly dismantling pesky little laws such as the Civil Rights Act and other protections against discrimination that override the rights of business owners to run their businesses the “way they see fit.” If, for example, they see fit to hang a sign saying “No Coloreds Allowed.”
As one example.
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Paul appears, however, not to have practiced articulating his arguments for a national audience, because either he doesn’t understand the implications of his own positions very well or he doesn’t have the courage to clarify them on national television. It’s a long clip, but watch this one from Rachel Maddow tonight, during which Paul is completely incoherent in responding to questions about whether, for example, he would allow business owners to bar people of color from eating at their restaurant.
Paul is also deeply anti-choice.
He claims he is a libertarian. According the website Libertarianism:
Libertarians believe that, on every issue, you have the right to decide for yourself what’s best for you and to act on that belief so long as you respect the right of other people to do the same and deal with them peacefully and honestly.
According to this definition, Rand Paul may be a LINO (Libertarian In Name Only). He is a libertarian, except, of course, when it comes to women’s rights, health, and lives, at which point he draws the line on women’s lives, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Men only in this club, gals. And by that I mean heterosexual men because gays, lesbians, transgender persons–and persons with disabilities–are all in the “women” category because they don’t deserve federal protections, according to Mr. Paul.
Indeed, in an interview tonight on NPR Mr. Paul suggested we could just get rid of the Americans with Disabilities Act because (I am paraphrasing) companies that had offices with two or more floors could just put the “disabled” offices on the first floor, so business owners don’t have to spend a lot of money on elevators to accommodate the needs of disabled workers to, say, get around the rest of the building. The true meaning of “able-ism.”
He’s for civil rights, but just doesn’t think we should “legislate them.” Like, leave them to the states, man. He feels, according to the Kentucky Courier-Journal, that while the federal government can enforce integration of government jobs and facilities, private business people should be able to decide whether they want to serve black people, or gays, or any other minority group. These and other views be what prompted Matt Yglesias of ThinkProgress to call Paul a lunatic.
He’s also a “personhood” guy and, if elected, he’d like to pass some laws that would basically make criminals out of women who have abortions or miscarry. On his website:
I am 100% pro life. I believe abortion is taking the life of an innocent human being. I believe life begins at conception and it is the duty of our government to protect this life. I will always vote for any and all legislation that would end abortion or lead us in the direction of ending abortion. I believe in a Human Life Amendment and a Life at Conception Act as federal solutions to the abortion issue. I also believe that while we are working toward this goal, there are many other things we can accomplish in the near term.
These, are, of course, sentiments strongly shared by the Republican Party, yet even though he’s still in the “family” on the rights of women, gays, and people of color, even they seem to be keeping a wary arm’s distance from Paul.
Yet despite his distate of government regulation of business (because lack of regulation is working out so well in, say, the case of the BP oil spill) Paul actually wants to expand government in other ways, once again focusing on those non-liberties of women:
I would strongly support legislation restricting federal courts from hearing cases like Roe v. Wade. Such legislation would only require a majority vote, making it more likely to pass than a pro-life constitutional amendment.
I would support legislation, a Sanctity of Life Amendment, establishing the principle that life begins at conception. This legislation would define life at conception in law, as a scientific statement.
I didn’t know you could legislate a “scientific fact” that doesn’t exist. But give him points for creativity.
There is of course debate across the political spectrum of the meaning of the results in last night’s race in Kentucky, with various bets on whether Paul’s win is ephemeral or if he might actually end up heading to the Senate. Many of course hope that having Paul as the nominee will result in the addition of a Democratic Senate seat in November. Others shudder at the prospect that Paul might win.
In a piece for Atlantic Wire, Nick Ottens summarizes reactions from a range of commentators:
Some are skeptical that Paul’s victory signifies much however. According to Joshua Green, writing for The Altantic, Rand Paul’s win doesn’t herald a Tea Party tidal wave. For one thing, “Paul’s celebrity dad brought him money, volunteers, name recognition, and media attention, particularly on Fox News. What other Tea Party candidate can match that?” he wonders.
Ottens writes that at Newsweek, David Graham warns against a “conservative backlash” to Paul’s victory, noting that, “Even some heterodox conservatives are voicing concern.”
And, notes Ottens, commentators on the left have been quick to convince themselves that Tuesday means nothing. Andy Ostroy at The Huffington Post believes that Paul’s victory only shows “that Republican voters are sick of establishment GOP candidates.”
The Tea baggers can beat their chests and crow all they want about the “hugeness” of their movement’s big victory, as Paul boasted last night, but all it portends for the party in November’s midterm elections is Republican-on-Republican bloodletting.
Ottens concludes, however:
Considering that Paul led Grayson by 59 to 35 percent of the vote; considering the predominance of the Republican Party in Kentucky politics, with the state opting for GOP candidates in the last three presidential elections; and considering today’s political climate in all of the United States, Rand Paul as senator is by no means unthinkable. Quite to the contrary.
“[B]y nominating a lunatic,” writes Yglesias, “Republicans have suddenly raised the odds that a lunatic will represent Kentucky in the United States Senate.”