Rand Paul, a Kentucky Fried Idiot

Imagine that you are a Republican politician from the South, let’s say Kentucky. If you wanted to send a message to Washington about your unlikely win against the establishment choice and ride the Tea Party momentum, would you talk about the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

That is exactly what Rand Paul, son of famous 2008 presidential candidate and libertarian Ron Paul, did.

So what exactly did Rand Paul do or say? His basic gripe and his problem at heart is his infatuation with libertarianism and pure individualism. While stating that he does not support racism or discrimination of any kind, he objected to the notion that private businesses could be forced not to discriminate by the federal government.

Let me take off my Lakers cap and put on my rarely-used Republican strategist hat to give a few words of advice to Rand Paul. Rand, if you want to win in November, you should keep that stuff to yourself. Our country finished that battle over forty years ago. It’s over now. If you are going to channel Ayn Rand, make it about taxes, the economy or about “Top Kill.”

Now, let me put on my normal person visor and discuss the issue at face value.

As we all know, racism in the South was horrible in the 1960s. So much so that the government had to make a value judgment, that went something like this, “We, as a nation have always valued liberty and equality to some extent. In this instance when they are conflicting, we are choosing equality.” The United States stated that although we like the free market, it’s not solving the problem and we are not going to be known as a nation that allows discrimination.

Rand Paul and other libertarians see this as an invasion of their liberty. They also make the argument that the free market would have taken care of this. People would have voted with their dollars and their feet.

This argument has several problems, including reality. The free market is based on people’s values and norms. The price of an object is based on what people are willing to pay for that object and how much they value that object. If the norm of society has racism ingrained, then that becomes a value in which the free market operates under.

One might say, well, surely something like racism wouldn’t stand for that much longer. We would eventually value equality over blatant discrimination.

We might, but then we might not. Let’s look at something we value today. Low prices make the world go round. Unfortunately, they are also conducive to having sweatshops in developing countries where children work for long hours. Although we might say, “well I don’t like sweatshops,” most of us aren’t doing anything about it, including myself. One could almost say that we think sweatshops in other countries are “normal.”  And that is exactly how an acidic value in the free market operates. It becomes “normal.”

Fortunately, as a society, there are some things that are closed to debate, such as unequal arbitrary discrimination.

Consequently, this is why libertarianism has never fully taken off. There is too much emphasis on the individual and never on the collective. We are an individualist society; make no mistake. There is, however, a social bond that cannot come from pure individualism.

There are certain moral judgments that we have written in the Constitution and have enforced by laws that are out of bounds for the free market. We have said that government cannot racially discriminate, but also the private sector cannot do so either. As such we equivocally stated we prefer equality to liberty on this issue.

After Rand Paul won his primary, he seemed like a shoe-in for the Senate seat. Now, in the latest poll, he is only leading by three points. After he appeared on the Rachel Maddow show, he said that if elected to the Senate he would unequivocally not vote to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That’s about right.

Jaye Anthony Estrada is a fourth-year biological sciences and political science double-major. He can be reached at estradaj@uci.edu.