Rand must get some of his ideas from beyond the galaxy!
A few years ago I was in Amsterdam, where I struck up a conversation with a young Dutchman named Hans. I enjoyed his animated observations of peoples from around the globe and his razor-sharp political analyses of world events. Out of the blue, Hans uttered this observation and question: “In the Netherlands, we pass laws to control corporations, but we let people do what they want. In the United States, it looks to me like you let corporations do what they want, but you control the people. Is this correct and, if so, can you explain to me why?” What more could I say beyond, “Yes, and no I can’t.” The Dutchman nailed it.
I mused on this encounter recently when I was at the gym and a friend asked me who got my vote for being the biggest disappointment in all of American politics. Now that’s a loaded question! Where does one even begin? American politics is filled with loathsome, inept, and deplorable creatures. Look up the word “buttocks” and the first definition is Eric Cantor. Harry Reid is a synonym for ‘sclerotic.’ Mitch McConnell is to the right of Mussolini, David Vitter is dumber than gravel, Michele Bachmann escaped from the asylum, Rick Scott is why the word “creep” was invented, Anton Scalia represents the Vatican with such naked fervency he’s in danger of losing his U.S. citizenship, and Clarence Thomas is rumored to be a fully owned subsidiary of Scalia, Inc. Then there’s the American Svengali, Barack Obama, who has mesmerized millions of liberals into believing he’s one of them without actually having paid any attention to them whatsoever. But in the end, my vote goes to Rand Paul. Not because the most corrupt, amoral, or dumbest politician in the land, but because he fails the simplest task of all: he can’t even do nothing.
Before you jump on me for bad syntax, let me explain. Paul calls himself a libertarian and says that government should stay the hell out of people’s lives. That’s his main (only?) appeal. Lots of Americans hate government, taxes, and regulations. Paul’s bad-boy libertarianism appeals to the anarchist fantasies of so many Americans that even those smart enough to know better–a smaller number than one might presume–occasionally find themselves nodding in agreement. The problem is that Rand is the Wizard of Oz—all smoke and mirrors. He doesn’t believe what he says; it’s just a ruse to trick people into thinking he’s on their side. Has it escaped the feeble minds of Paul supporters that the Great Libertarian Phony introduced a bill that would outlaw all abortion and define life as beginning with conception? Or that he opposes gay marriage? Or that the guy who says he wants the U.S. to stop giving foreign aid and going to war faithfully votes for whatever military budget that is put before him? Or that he’s against immigration reform because it doesn’t “secure” U.S. borders? How hard is it to shut up and do nothing if you claim that’s what government ought to do?
I suspect that Rand embodies the true spirit of American libertarianism. That is to say, libertarianism as practiced is little more than a temper tantrum, not a serious political ideology. Few self-proclaimed libertarians actually believe much beyond wanting to have unrestricted access to guns and tax dodges. What would true libertarianism look like? Probably something like the Netherlands, except with more guns. If you really don’t think government has any right to interfere in people’s lives then every woman can make up her own mind about abortion, drugs should be as legal as guns, sodomy among consenting adults is nobody else’s business, government (state, federal or local) should sanction the marriage of anyone who buys a license, prostitution would be legal, workers seeking jobs should freely cross borders in search of them, and the First Amendment ought to be interpreted broadly in matters of appropriate speech, dress (or undress), film, print, web, and music content. True libertarianism would mean a society in which we stop trying to “prevent” much of anything insofar as individuals are concerned, and one sanctions only public harm, not private preferences. In essence, one can be as stoned or drunk as one wishes, as long as one doesn’t go on to drive a car or rob a bank.
Rand Paul doesn’t believe this. I’m not sure I’m in favor of all of this either, but I’ve never claimed the libertarian mantle and he has. That makes me inconsistent, but it makes Rand Paul a charlatan and a hypocrite. All hail Rand Paul–the worst politician in a land of political rogues. His old man must be proud. Too bad Hans is Dutch; he’d be a candidate worth supporting.