I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means….

Rand Paul has assumed the mantle of libertarianism from his father Ron, and in all fairness, espouses some positions that are consistent with libertarian philosophy. But he’s anything but a genuine libertarian.

Peacock Panache recently reported on a Paul presentation at a private prayer breakfast sponsored by Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network:

Paul told those in attendance at the breakfast he supports an intertwining of religion in government. “The First Amendment says keep government out of religion,” he said. “It doesn’t say keep religion out of government.”

Tell that to any Constitutional scholar who has done even a little research into the workings of the Establishment Clause and see how it goes over.

Continuing his pseudo-sermon Paul continued, “In fact, the moral crisis we have in our country, there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage, there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think that there would be some sort of other marriage.” He continued, “We’re the most disconnected city on the planet from the people. So don’t have a lot of faith in what’s going on up here.”

Paul has the solution though. “We need a revival in the country,” Paul told an attentive audience that agreed with his every word. “We need another Great Awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying reform or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform.”

There are two ways to interpret this nod to religious hegemony. It may be that Paul really has no idea what authentic libertarianism is, or it may be that he is intellectually dishonest and willing to pander to the prejudices of his audience. (The two interpretations, of course, aren’t mutually exclusive.) Either way, he’s disqualified from holding a government position. (Not that disqualification matters much these days–if we held lawmakers to an intellectual honesty standard, most of Congress would be gone.)

Paul also opposes reproductive rights and  same-sex marriage, for example–positions at odds with libertarian philosophy but virtual litmus tests for the GOP’s Evangelical base.

Just for the record, Rand, the libertarian principle that emerged from the Enlightenment (and upon which this country was largely founded) celebrated individual autonomy: the right of each individual to establish and pursue his own life goals, free of interference by government or popular majorities, unless and until that individual harms the person or property of a non-consenting other–and so long as he is willing to respect the equal right of others to do the same.

Now, I realize we can all debate what constitutes harm, but when you aren’t even willing to respect the right of other people to live in accordance with beliefs contrary to yours, you’re an authoritarian, not a libertarian.

Google it.


  1. I think many Americans forget that the same constitution that allows them to pursue life, liberty and happiness how they have freely chosen, allows everyone else to do the same, even if it’s contrary to what a large portion of the population believes.

  2. Shelia,

    If you don’t mind I am going to borrow some of your lines. The fact that you and I seem to be agreeing more and more means something is definitely wrong with the world. 🙂

  3. Self centeredness leads to the perspective that freedom means that I am the center of the universe and am unrestrained. In truth freedom means that my actions are prevented from imposing on others.

    That truth requires thoughtful examination and a sense of responsibility. What The Great Oligarchy Plot espouses is an easier sell to the rubes of the world who prefer knowing to learning because it’s easier. You can just Google it.

  4. I believe this statement describes Rand Paul – “it may be that he is intellectually dishonest and willing to pander to the prejudices of his audience”.

    I really wish that your daily posts could somehow reach the people that need to hear the truth, rather than the lies that they are fed and choose to believe out of ignorance.

  5. May be the best explanation of complicated constitutional and philosophical intertwinings ever. Thank you for your insights and clear writing!

  6. All the Republican candidates will have perform a complex dance to able to win over the Bible Thumping Base in the Primaries, yet some how be able to move forward and win the National Election. The Democrats have to energize the Millennials to get out and vote . Elizabeth Warren gave an excellent presentation on the issues the Democrats should focus on in 2016 on the Rachael Maddow show, last week.

  7. The fact that Rand Paul may not understand what “authentic Libertarianism” is in no way disqualifies him from holding a government position, and the fact that you would say such a thing shines doubt on your credibility. What I have seen of “authentic Libertarianism” is a bunch of nutcases. None the less, I go along with a great deal of what they have to say. Maybe Rand Paul does understand but chooses to waver from strict dogma.

    Of course, he may just be a lightweight, too.

  8. Sheila, many of us would explode (or implode) if it were not for you and your blog and our privilege to vent. Thanks for what you do!

    In this Rand Paul thing, I think we can readily see whom they (Rand Paul and Ted Cruz) addressed–the Pat Robertson following on CBN and the now-deceased Jerry Falwell crowd at Liberty University. Just pause and think of all the young people graduating from Liberty and soaking up that troubling train of thought. And think of the millions who sit glued to CBN and that dottery, pitiful Pat and former Miss America Terri Whomever.

    Rational and reasonable folks need to sit up and start taking notice of what is going on here. Then they need to be sure to have their voter IDs in hand, locate their polling places, check the polling hours periodically (as they will become narrower and more inconvenient as time goes on), and be sure to get out there and vote. They must let no person or ideology stand in the way of their making their own choices.

  9. Oh, and teachers of English (even retired ones) love to pick up new words. Hegemony is a good one to put in my vocabulary. Thanks!

  10. I really do believe that these candidates and potential candidates tailor their speeches to their audience in order to raise more money. Pandering is a norm in politics. It is often very effective at fund raising but not so much in actual governing. See: Governor Pence and his inept attempts to govern in a red state with deep blue cities.

  11. Pandering to the crowd is what democracy is about. A terrible way to govern but better than all alternatives. I for one have immense faith in it as long as the people are capable of, and are left to, establish their own agenda.

    That’s why the differences between democracy and oligarchy are so large and important. Money can buy marketing which is demonstrably capable of creating cultures that crave certain products. When the product being sold is good only for the few, dysfunction reigns.

    We are on the verge of losing democracy, arguably our most precious gift. To say that it’s worth fighting for is a gross understatement.

  12. The man, as well as the woman, who deliberates between his principle and the price of its sacrifice, is lost.—William Hazlitt

    He then goes on to refer to this as ‘prostitution.’ Go Bill H!

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