I’m glad I spent most of yesterday traveling, so that I missed much of the blogospheric tsunami regarding Rand Paul’s libertarian views on the virtue of the federal government banning racial discrimination in private businesses.
Where I come down on the issue is that the history and entrenched nature of racial segregation and discrimination both by government and by the private sector in some areas of the country necessitated government action, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
As anyone who reads this blog knows, I do not equate limited government with no government, which is the strawman argument frequently raised to attack conservatives. While in an ideal world we could have let the market work out discrimination in private businesses, the world was not ideal.
I acknowledge that there is a slippery slope of government intrusion, such that protecting civil rights ends up with regulations mandating the purchase of private health insurance and restricting how much salt one can put on one’s food. The existence of a slippery slope, however, does not mean that necessary societal steps are not taken at all.
Regardless of one’s political philosophy, however, there was no justification for the attacks on Paul as a racist. Paul was very clear in his original statements and subsequent clarification that he was against racism even in private businesses, the issue being one of political philosophy as to how racism was to be eliminated.
The nature of our political debate is such that Democrats’ official strategy for the 2010 campaign cycle is to find wedge issues, and there is no bigger wedge in our society than the issue of race. This did not start with Rand Paul; it happens on issues such as health care, immigration and almost every political issue.
The charges of racism against Paul will have little political effect because Democrats have cried wolf so often using the race card that charges of racism in politics have become background noise for most, and counter-motivators for many who resent falsely be called racist.
While Memeorandum filled almost its entire home page with blog posts on the subject, I’d be willing to venture a bet that the vast majority of people in the country are hardly aware of the dispute, and do not care because the issue was settled several decades ago.
But I do also think there is enormous hypocrisy here, because it is Democrats who perpetuate institutionalized race-based discrimination through affirmative action programs which include the color of one’s skin as part of the decision-making process. This may be legal in certain circumstances, and may even be desirable to remedy historical imbalances, but it is discrimination nonetheless.
The irony is that it is Republicans and Tea Partiers who hold most true to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of a nation where people were not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
But you wouldn’t know it to read Memeorandum yesterday.
Update: We’ve seen this movie before, A Warning For The Next Scott Brown