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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

 
Imposing Political Correctness

by digby

I wrote about Ron Paul's antebellum politics the other day. Here's one way in which it plays out. Paul's state chair in Iowa is a member of the Christian Right and an extreme one at that) and he's been lining up social conservative support. One of the Pastors endorsing Paul is the Reverend Phillip Kayser who explains his reasons for supporting him to TPM:

Reached by phone, Kayser confirmed to TPM that he believed in reinstating BIblical punishments for homosexuals — including the death penalty — even if he didn’t see much hope for it happening anytime soon. While he said he and Paul disagree on gay rights, noting that Paul recently voted for repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, he supported the campaign because he believed Paul’s federalist take on the Constitution would allow states more latitude to implement fundamentalist law. Especially since Kayser believes that there is no separation of Church and State under his own interpretation of the Constitution.

“Under a Ron Paul presidency, states would be freed up to not have political correctness imposed on them, but obviously some state would follow what’s politically correct,” he said. “What he’s trying to do, whether he agrees with the Constitution’s position or not, is restrict himself to the Constitution. That is something I very much appreciate.”

When I talk about Ron Paul's antebellum politics this is what I mean --- a reversion to the way the country was fashioned before 1860. Indeed, these states' rights arguments stem from the original arguments over slavery. In this case, the position is being held by someone who believes that gays should be executed under biblical law. The entire idea of inalienable rights under the US Constitution is called into question by this kind of states' rights (which is interesting since the whole thing is supposedly predicated on an originalist view of the Constitution.)

Evidently, there is more support for this than just among the Paul supporters. I've had some conversations with liberals who see this as a logical outgrowth of people's frustration with the federal government although I certainly don't think they would be in favor of allowing former American states to secede so that they can execute gays. But that's the game plan among many of these states' rights advocates, so these battles will inevitably be had. Again. It's the most long running feature of American political life.

Ron Paul, who is against drug prohibition, believes that states should be able to lock up people for drug possession:

Q: In your 1988 campaign you said, “All drugs should be decriminalized. Drugs should be distributed by any adult to other adults. There should be no controls on production, supply or purchase for adults.” Is that still your position?

A: Yeah. It’s sort of like alcohol. Alcohol’s a deadly drug, kills more people than anything else. And today the absurdity on this war on drugs has just been horrible. Now the federal government takes over and overrules states where state laws permit medicinal marijuana 1 for people dying of cancer. The federal government goes in and arrests these people, put them in prison with mandatory sentences. This war on drugs is totally out of control. If you want to regulate cigarettes and alcohol and drugs, it should be at the state level. That’s where I stand on it. The federal government has no prerogatives on this.

Q: But you would decriminalize it?

A: I would, at the federal level. I don’t have control over the states. And that’s why the Constitution’s there.

I guess I just don't see why that is considered to be libertarian. Just because you break up state power into fifty entities instead of one, it doesn't make their infringements on liberty ok, does it? On a philosophical and ideological level, libertarians should be clear that infringements of people's rights should never be subject to the whims of the state --- whether it's Hawaii or the United States of America. So why doesn't Ron Paul say this? There's no reason that his quixotic career couldn't also entail a drive to change the constitution, or ensure that all 50 states overturn drug prohibition. He has nothing to lose by stating the libertarian principles and saying that basic individual rights are inalienable.

But he doesn't. He defends states' rights to infringe on individual liberty as being under the Constitution but what he's really defending are the Articles of Confederation. This isn't libertarianism. It's "tentherism" disguised as libertarianism.

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