Archive for May, 2010

Rand Paul: The Liberty Bell and a political ding-dong

May 27, 2010

by David Farside

May 24th, 2010

Like the crack in the Liberty Bell, there is a decisive crack in the Republican party. Last week’s primary elections in Kentucky and Pennsylvania demonstrated the political power of the Tea Party, the influence of extreme rightwing conservative philosophy, discrimination and a threat to our constitutional liberty.

Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican member of the U.S. Senate since the Ronald Reagan victory in 1980, was defeated by fellow Democrat Joe Sestak in the Pennsylvania primary election. Yes, fellow democrat. Vice President Joe Biden, who served with Specter in the Senate for 28 years, convinced Specter to join the Democratic party because he was sympathetic to democratic views and was a guaranteed vote for President Barack Obama’s agenda. Specter, admitting he couldn’t win as a Republican, said he joined the Democrats to win the election. Being one of only three Republicans who voted for Obama’s health care bill and labeled as a political opportunist, he couldn’t win as a Republican.

The Tea party campaigned aggressively against Specter and behind the scenes supported his Democratic opponent Sestak. The strategy was it would be easier for their own Republican candidate to defeat Sestak rather than the entrenched political machine of Specter, running as a Democrat or Republican. And they might be right.

Ironically, Specter began his political career as a Democrat but switched to the Republican party in 1965, defeating the Democratic incumbent for the District Attorney position in Philadelphia.

But the real political story was in Kentucky. Rand Paul, son of Republican Congressman Ron Paul from Texas, won the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in the Kentucky primary. He will oppose Democrat Jack Conway in the general election. Both father and son, like Barry Goldwater, are actually libertarians riding on the back of the ears of the Republican elephant.

In his acceptance speech, Paul accused Obama of not doing enough to prevent the massive oil spill off the Louisiana coast that is destroying wildlife, natural habitat, wetlands, beaches, the fishing industry and tourism. As the oil continues to spew into the gulf, finger pointing seems to be the sentiment shared by many Americans, especially in the most affected areas.

Former president George W. Bush was justly criticized for temporarily ignoring the Sept. 11 bombing while he was reading to a kindergarten class. Paul’s criticism of Obama is also justified. Obama should not have waited for British Petroleum (BP) to solve the problem, clean up the oil or protect the beaches. He should have declared the gulf coast a national disaster area, employed the National Guard and locals to clean the coastline and billed BP for the cost of the damage. Instead, all he did was “prefer to defer,” form another committee and have the U.S. Coast Guard monitor the gravity of the spill. Sounds like politics as usual.

But in his speech, Paul also managed to shoot himself in the foot. He said he was in favor of abolishing the Federal Reserve System, taking us back to the days of Andrew Jackson when he closed the Federal Reserve’s predecessor, limiting money supply and causing a depression from 1837 to 1844. As much as we dislike the Federal Reserve, it balances trade, insures liquidity and closes insolvent banks. If it wasn’t for poor fiscal policies of one man, Alan Greenspan, serving as chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, we probably wouldn’t be in the economic mess we’re in today.

Paul indicates he wants to eliminate minimum wage legislation saying businesses should determine wages, not government. The Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938. Among other things, it established a national minimum wage, guaranteed time-and-a-half for overtime on certain jobs and eliminated the employment of minors in what was called “oppressive child labor” practices. Similar wage practices Paul wants to return to today.

Paul claims he is a strict constitutionalist but he is opposed to the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964. The constitutional legislation invalidated the Jim Crow laws of the south and eliminated racial segregation in schools, the workplace and facilities that, in general, served the public. Paul said every business should have the choice to discriminate and serve, or not serve, anyone they wanted. Two days later, he tried to say he wasn’t a racist. You be the judge.

Actually, the 1964 legislation was passed in compliance with the original declaration of our founding fathers prescribed in article one, section eight of the Constitution. Plus, it enforced the 14th and 15th Amendments in the same Constitution Paul says he supports as a constitutionalist. I think he’s confused.

It seems Rand Paul wants Kentucky and all Americans to replace our constitutional liberties with his own personal southern, pre-Civil War conservative philosophy of pro-business, discrimination, low wages and a new Tea party constitution, filling the crack in the tolling Liberty Bell of freedom with the looming nell of national division, civil disobedience and a new conservative southern Confederacy rung by a real political ding-dong, Rand Paul.

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