Everyone's still busy congratulating Rand Paul on his exceptional Americanism. You know, the kind of Americanism that this country was founded upon, the kind that our grandparents and great grandparents died for. Well, not me.
Rand Paul’s staunch defense of civil liberties came as somewhat of surprise to me. He regularly mentioned the importance of Fifth Amendment saying, "I will not let Obama shred the Constitution."
But what do Rand Paul's positions really say about his support of the Constitution and civil liberties?
Back in 2010, Rand Paul came under fire for statements he made about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On the Rachel Maddow Show, he seemed to suggest that he was unsure if he would have been in favor of the Civil Rights Act. Rand Paul has also come out in opposition of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Rand Paul believes that the Civil Rights Act is wrong in principle. He believes that the government has no right to tell what private businesses do. This also accounts for his opposition to the ADA, but what does this position actually translate into?
Bruce Bartlett puts it this way:
"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."
Freedom does not only involve freedom from the government.
As an avid supporter of the Constitution, Rand Paul might have read the Interstate Commerce Clause, which even Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) believes was used correctly in establishing the Civil Rights Act.
Rand Paul is so vehemently against the involvement of government in the everyday lives of U.S. citizens that he is willing to speak about it for thirteen hours. Unless it has to do with protecting the rights of women to choose what happens to their body. Paul believes that the "coarsening of our culture" leads to abortion. This, to me, is the ultimate hypocrisy.
When it comes to abortion, Paul has said it is the duty and responsibility of the government to protect life.
If he can justify government involvement in the case of abortion, why is government involvement in the ADA or the Civil Rights Act so problematic for him?
Civil liberties ask that we protect the rights of each person, that we protect each persons civil rights and freedoms. Is that not what these laws do?
It’s relatively easy to be petrified of the hypothetical, someday violation of our civil liberties. How nice it must be to only have to imagine what an attack on those freedoms would feel like? For many Americans, they already experience this. Every single day.
Minorities and those who are less fortunate are routinely denied full protection of their civil liberties. Where is his outrage for the way the justice system unfairly targets, treats, and convicts minorities?
One of our most sacred liberties is the right to an attorney, the right to be represented in the justice system. 80% of individuals within the court system obtain a public defender, and in 2004 the American Bar Association declared the following:
"All too often, defendants plead guilty, even if they are innocent, without really understanding their legal rights or what is occurring ... The fundamental right to a lawyer that America assumes applies to everyone accused of criminal conduct effectively does not exist in practice for countless people across the US."
What Rand Paul was talking about for 13 hours yesterday was the right we have as Americans to have our day in court — to respond to the charges levied against us and to be represented by competent legal counsel. If the majority of those accused of a crime do not receive these basic protections, doesn't it pose just as great of a threat to our Constitution as drone strikes?
Part of what the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act seek to do is to address these systemic flaws within the system. These acts of Congress acknowledge that African Americans and minorities are at a higher risk for having their civil liberties violated. Rand Paul's opposition to them is hypocritical because these laws seek to protect the very rights that he claims to defend so vehemently.
His hypocrisy continues. Rand is also opposed to same sex marriage, saying "I really don’t understand any other kind of marriage. Between a man and a woman is what I believe in, and I just don’t think it is good for us to change the definition of that."
I get it, it's okay to restrict the liberties of someone else if it goes against our beliefs.
He also compared the idea that women and men should be paid the same for equal work to Soviet Russia. He believes that the free market should be allowed to determine what individuals should get paid.
The issue with the free market is that it doesn’t give a damn about your civil liberties or your civil rights. Even Adam Smith understood this.
Rand Paul’s protection of children doesn’t seem to extend beyond the womb. Air pollution is a leading cause of a myriad of health problems including chronic lung disease and heart problems.
Back in November of 2011, Paul introduced a resolution that sought to overturn new rules instilled by the Environmental Protection Agency to limit power plant pollution. He said the regulations were, "job killing."
What Paul has to really reconcile here are some of these questions:
Does a businesses right to operate outweigh my individual right to breathe clean air?
Do his personal views against gay marriage outweigh the right of an individual be afforded the same liberties and rights guaranteed to others?
Are the rights of minorities not routinely subjected to abuse in the name of state or national security, just like in the case of drones?
You can’t say that the rights of any one business or person outweigh the rights of another, and you certainly cannot ignore the fact that without some of the protections that exist today, the rights and liberties of others would be subject to abuse.
That’s really the tricky thing about civil liberties, you can’t pick and choose which ones you are going to protect.