Off The Rails

Why The Rand Paul Bandwagon Is Truly Awful For Us

The three scariest words in American politics have to be President Rand Paul. Yet those seem to be the words that keep coming to the Kentucky Senator’s mind when he looks in a mirror.

Paul is clearly mulling over a presidential bid in 2016, most recently stoking speculation at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast event. “I want to be part of the national debate,” Paul said. “Being considered [as a potential White House candidate] is something that allows me to have a larger microphone.”

Quick, someone pull the plug.

Paul has acquired a kind of cult around him for his libertarian philosophy. In particular, young people, who are a rare commodity in today’s GOP, find Paul’s get-out-of-my-home stance appealing. The amazing thing is that they often mistake Paul’s ideology for acceptance. It’s not. Paul is hardly a pro-gay politician. He is by his own words “an old-fashioned traditionalist.” He once joked that President Obama’s views on marriage “couldn’t get any gay-er,” and the comment sure didn’t sound like a compliment. He’s also said that he wants to eliminate the Department of Education so that students wouldn’t have to hear about “the idea of Suzie has two mommies.”  

These are not the comments of a man who likes us.

Instead, Paul has a single mania. Like his father, Ron Paul,  he wants to eliminate the federal government. To him, that means that the federal government shouldn’t offer anti-discrimination protections so that people can live their lives. Depending on how you ask the question, you might get an answer that seems pretty okay. Ask it the other way, though, and it’s clear the answer is not. The government shouldn’t be in the business of criminalizing marijuana? Great. The government shouldn’t be in the business of determining whether AIDS drugs are safe enough to be on the market? Not so great.

Paul is trying to package a “new libertarianism” that seems more mainstream and less crackpot. But unless your a devotee of Ayn Rand, it’s still a radical view of a society where the wealthy are rewarded and the government does nothing to protect and enable everyone else. More than almost any other politician, Paul is motivated by a unified worldview.

It’s pretty clear that there’s very limited space for us in that universe.

Photo by Gage Skidmore