Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul‘s recent statements about the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act have, to some degree, led to a dissection of the Libertarian ideology.

Bluegrass Politics breaks down where Paul strays from minimal government philosophies, and Jay Smooth at Ill Doctrine takes issue with Paul’s strict adherence to those philosophies, saying that Paul is too attached to a set of ideas that do not work in practice. Here is the video:

And here is Smooth’s reaction to Paul’s discussion of the Civil Rights Act.

Does that prove he’s some hard-core racist that doesn’t care about Black people? No. But it does suggest that he’s such a hard-core purist libertarian that he cares more about this abstract set of principles than he cares about any actual people – that he’s more committed to these rigid abstractions than he is to protecting the basic rights of human beings in the real world.

And if that’s the case, that means this Civil Rights Act thing is just the tip of the iceberg. That means there are a whole lot of cases where if Rand Paul has to describe his beliefs in detail, his beliefs are going to sound really weird, and alienating. And I think Rand Paul knows that, and that’s why he’s trying so hard not to describe his own beliefs in plain English.

Smooth’s stance is similar to one often taken by critics of relatively extreme political views (Communism, Libertarianism, etc); textbook ideologies like this require circumstances that do not–and may never–exist in governments run by humans. It’s frequently argued that ideologies that rely on a very strong or exceptionally small government place too much control in select individuals, be they government or business leaders, and are therefore more at the mercy of human faults than other forms of government. An ideology–however erudite and logical–may not pan out if it’s used to govern millions of people. Of course, this is also a theory that may or may not be proven in practice.

But why is this discussion surfacing now? Joshua Green at The Atlantic says Paul slipped into the national spotlight because he wasn’t properly vetted by the economically-weakened Kentucky media. On The Media picked up on the story and interviewed Keith Runyon from the Courier-Journal about how Paul was covered in the primary. In the interview, Runyon points out that the C-J’s editorial noted Paul’s beliefs and says the video of Paul discussing the Civil Rights Act was on the paper’s website long before the primary.

What’s your opinion? Was the Kentucky press in too bad of shape to properly inform voters? It’s an interesting argument, and there’s definitely something to it, but it leaves out the fact that Rand Paul was also the subject of several national media stories. He was in magazines, on television and on the radio. He had staff dust-ups and was the target of a series of negative ads that called his ideas “strange.” There were a number of stories questioning the extent of Paul’s small-government philosophy, but–as it’s been noted elsewhere–many potentially-damaging stories were (and are) dismissed by Paul’s supporters as attacks from a biased media. Many of Paul’s supporters are Tea Partiers, and the group has not generally presented a favorable attitude toward the mainstream press.

So while it’s true that many stories that could’ve been reported (about all the candidates) weren’t, but it’s also true that in the case of Paul’s campaign, many supporters may not have believed the stories in the first place. Of course, they may also have believed the stories, but continue to support Paul because they support some, or all, of his beliefs.

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