What Rand Paul Really Believes
The libertarian view of the government’s safety net, worker and environmental protections and gun rights
But hiding out and keeping quiet scarcely befits the
leader of a movement of would-be revolutionaries—which means that, sooner or
later, Dr. Paul will have to speak up again. Even if he has settled the civil
rights controversy for the moment, he still has some explaining to do.
As a lifelong libertarian who seems stuck on a
strict standard of ideological purity, he may or may not espouse that creed's
most extreme positions, like his father, Rep. Ron Paul. If he does, then even
many Republicans may think twice or three times before they vote for him. If he
doesn't, then he may find himself in a quarrel with many of his old comrades,
his father and his own past statements. More than once, Rand
has said that he generally agrees with Ron.
So considering Paul's background, extremism is a
reasonable concern—and the only way to find out what he really believes is for
him to start answering a lot of questions.
At the Mercy of Fate, Corporations and
What do libertarians believe? On some issues, such
as abortion, they are divided. But on gun control, for instance, the
libertarian platform indicates that they believe in no restrictions whatsoever
on gun ownership, no registrations or background checks—in short, no statutory
or regulatory effort to prevent convicted criminals, registered sex offenders,
suspected terrorists, illegal immigrants or anyone else from getting their
hands on firearms, including anything from a 9mm to a missile launcher.
Some Americans may not consider such absolutism to
be loony, but very few would favor abolishing all background checks or all of
the existing restrictions on automatic weapons.
What voters in Kentucky and elsewhere will learn, when they
look more deeply into the movement from which Paul emerged, is that
libertarians believe in very little government. They seem to feel that the kind
of state suited to the 18th century would serve America just as well today. So they
would do away with all legal restrictions on wages, hours and working
conditions, including the minimum wage and the ban on child labor. If your boss
refused to pay you at the end of the week, the government would do nothing—and
you would have to sue.
Under a libertarian regime, every protection that
modern Americans take for granted would disappear, leaving us to the mercy of
fate, corporations and economic cycles.
No more laws stopping air and water pollution, no
more regulation of food and agricultural safety, no controls on advertising
cigarettes or alcohol to children. (The libertarian society would be paradise
for E. coli bacteria, the oil industry and Joe Camel.) No more Social Security,
Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, public schools, national or state parks, or
farm subsidies of any kind; no more federal support for scientific research
into clean energy or curing cancer or AIDS or any other disease; and, in fact,
no more federal money for education at any level, from Head Start to state
colleges, universities and graduate schools.
Is this the "message" Paul is bringing us
from the great minds of the tea party? Maybe so, if they mean what they say
about balancing the budget without raising taxes. But for Paul, there is at
least one exception to the hard-core dogma. You see, he is against cutting
Medicare payments to physicians—at least while he's still practicing
ophthalmology. He should explain that, too.