Neil

Rand Paul on individual rights: I support Civil Rights Act, but 2010 battles are about government overreach in lives

Rand Paul wrote this op-ed piece in his local paper, the Bowling Green Daily News. Paul faces Democrat Jack Conway in the race for Jim Bunning’s U.S. Senate seat.

Rand Paul wrote this op-ed piece in his local paper, the Bowling Green Daily News.  Paul faces Democrat Jack Conway in the race for Jim Bunning’s U.S. Senate seat.

 

Individual rights

By Rand Paul

Kundera writes of a balcony scene in the winter snow of 1948 Prague. Clementis offers his fur cap to the new leader Gottwald. Later Clementis is purged by the Communists and airbrushed from all the photos. All that remains of Clementis is the fur cap on Gottwald’s head.

In the end, all that remains of any of us is our reputation. Mine has been sullied over the past week by lies and innuendo.

I’ve spent the past 14 months traveling around the commonwealth, giving more than 400 speeches, and talking to thousands of Kentuckians.

Throughout these speeches, I never once had reason to discuss the Civil Rights Act of 1964, much less call for the repeal of this settled law 46 years later.

So you can imagine my shock when my wife called the day after the election to tell me that Jack Conway was on MSNBC saying - outright lying - claiming that I had called for the repeal of the Civil Rights Act. Even though these lies were evident by watching the video footage, commentators on MSNBC and elsewhere have been repeating it as fact for more than a week now.

If you watch any of my interviews, you’ll see I never stated that I did not support the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and I certainly never called for its repeal.

I was asked if I supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I stated that “I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I’m all in favor of that.” In response, the interviewer asked me about private domains, and I did what typical candidates don’t - I discussed some philosophical issues with government mandating rules on private businesses. I think the federal government has often gone too far in regulating private citizens and businesses.

I made comparisons to the First Amendment and how it allows people in a free society to say things that may be abhorrent, but that is a challenge of a free society. I was speaking abstractly, not to any piece of legislation, since in general my political views are rooted in the rights of the individual over the state.

The interviewer then brought me back to the literal world of life in 1964, saying, “But it’s different with race, because much of the discrimination based on race was codified into law.” In the video you’ll see me agree with her, ending the discussion by saying, “Exactly, it was institutionalized. And that’s why we had to end all institutional racism and I’m completely in favor of that.”

I think that statement is very clear. This did not stop my opponent and the liberal media from implying that I meant the opposite.

I am unlike many folks who run for office. I am an idealist. When I read history I side with abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas who fought for 30 years to end slavery and to integrate public transportation in the free North in the 1840s. I see our failure to end slavery for decade after decade as a failure of weak-kneed politicians.

I cheer the abolitionist Lysander Spooner, who argued that slavery was unconstitutional 20 years before the Civil War. I cheer Lerone Bennet when he argues that the right of habeas corpus guaranteed in the Constitution should have derailed slavery long before the Civil War.

Only when the brave idealists, the abolitionists, finally provoked the weak-kneed politicians into action, did the emancipation proclamation come about. Our body politic has enough pragmatists, we need a few idealists.

Segregation ended only after a great and momentous uprising by idealists like Martin Luther King Jr., who provoked weak-kneed politicians to action.

In 2010, there are battles that need to be fought, and they have nothing to do with race or discrimination, but rather the rights of people to be free from a nanny state.

For example, I am opposed to the government telling restaurant owners that they cannot allow smoking in their establishments. I believe we as consumers can choose whether to patronize a smoke-filled restaurant or do business with a smoke-free option.

Think about it - this overreach is now extending to mandates about fat and calorie counts in menus. Do we really need the government managing all of these decisions for us?

My overriding principle is this: I believe in the natural right of all individuals to have their God-given liberty protected. And that’s why I believe the Civil Rights Act was necessary, and that I would have voted for it.

I have long been a fan of what Martin Luther King wrote, “That an unjust law is any code that a numerical majority enforces on a minority but not make binding on itself.”

Now the media is twisting my small government message, making me out to be a crusader for repeal of the Americans for Disabilities Act and The Fair Housing Act. Again, this is patently untrue. I have simply pointed out areas within these broad federal laws that have financially burdened many smaller businesses.

For example, should a small business in a two-story building have to put in a costly elevator, even if it threatens their economic viability? Wouldn’t it be better to allow that business to give a handicapped employee a ground floor office? We need more businesses and jobs, not fewer.

This much is clear: the federal government has overreached in its power grabs. Just look at the national health care schemes, which my opponent supports. Look at the out of control EPA, trying to make law by overreaching regulations that will harm Kentucky coal.

Our country faces a difficult financial future. I see issues not in terms of party but in terms of principles and I will do my very best to deserve the honor that has been bestowed upon me to run for office.

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