Monday, May 31, 2010

Limits of Interventionism

By questioning some of the unconstitutional meddling of the federal government in modern American society, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act, Rand Paul has performed a useful service for the liberal media elitists who love to empower our elected officials. Outlets like the New York Times have helped to illuminate their blind love for the authoritarian state, despite the limits of the US constitution.

Many Americans are sputtering mad, believing that government has let them down in abetting a ruinous recession, bailing out bankers and spending wildly. Rand Paul is just one part of the remedy they have in mind. His views and those of other Tea Party candidates are reminders of the truth that there is no such thing as "enlightened government".

In a handful of remarkably candid interviews since winning Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary this week, Mr. Paul made it clear that not only he does understand the nature of racial progress in this country, he sees interventionist policy of government itself as racist.

As a longtime libertarian, he espouses the view that personal freedom should supersede all government intervention. Neighborhood associations should be allowed to discriminate on the basis of race, he has written, and private businesses ought to be able to refuse service to anyone they wish. Under this philosophy, the punishment for a lunch counter that refuses to seat black customers would be public shunning, not a court order.

It is a theory of liberty with roots in America’s creation, and the succeeding centuries have yet to give it a chance to show how effective it can be. Even if "promoting a civil society" was somehow spelled out as a constitutional goal (and it isn't), the arrogance of the Times' editors to think that they know what that means is astonishing. The views of a few people empowered by government to discriminate meant generations of less freedom for large groups of others, since the government could now routinely overstep its boundaries and play favorites.

It was only government power that instituted and maintained slavery and enacted Jim Crow, neither of which would have been in place in a purely free society. It was government that brought on and extended the Depression and created the union/EEOC counterculture in the workplace, all through the best of intentions.

Republicans in Washington have foolishly distanced themselves from Dr. Paul’s remarks, afraid that voters will be as ignorant as the Times' editorial staff. But as they properly continue to fight the new health care law and oppose greater financial regulation, claiming the federal government is overstepping its bounds, they should notice that the distance is closing. Maybe the next step is to call out all of the unconstitutional laws as part of the Republican platform. Maybe then the liberal media will understand?