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Hullabaloo


Saturday, April 12, 2014

 
Who's the biggest hypocrite on civil liberties? You might be surprised.

by digby

So Rand Paul is agitating for the youth vote with the privacy issue:
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told New Hampshire Republicans Friday night that the key to winning the youth vote could come by appealing to them on privacy issues, arguing that one of his potential rivals — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — is vulnerable on the topic.

“They’ve all got a cell phone and they all think the government shouldn’t be looking at their cell phone or listening to their cell phone without a warrant. We get to the young people with privacy,” Paul said at an NH GOP rally at the Cottage by the Bay in Dover, N.H., Friday night.

“It’s not a conservative or Republican issue. It’s an area where we can connect with people who haven’t been connecting. Obama won the youth vote 3 to 1 but he’s losing them now. Hillary Clinton’s as bad or worse on all of these issues,” he said. “It’s a way we can transform and make the party bigger or even win again, but we’ve got to be as proud of the Fourth Amendment as much as we are the Second Amendment.”
He's probably right about Clinton being as bad as Obama on the NSA stuff. I've seen no evidence that she will do anything different, although like Obama himself in 2008, I'm fairly sure she'll make a lot of noises in the campaign about protecting privacy rights but will likely end up doing the bidding of the intelligence apparatus once in office. That's the usual pattern since WWII,  regardless of party.

But Paul will fail to get any traction in this despite the fact that he might be perceived as having more credibility when it comes to government intrusion into individual privacy. And that's because he has one of the most glaring inconsistencies on this issue imaginable. He is personally anti-choice and would allow states to ban abortion. If deciding when you wish to reproduce isn't a matter of privacy, I don't know what is. Certainly, it's very hard to see how it's wrong for government to read your emails but requiring you to have children against your will is perfectly fine.

The bottom line is this: Rand Paul's position on privacy is even more inconsistent than Obama's or Clinton's. The latter at least pay lip service to the basic philosophical principles even if they disregard them in the national security sphere. Paul is right up front saying that the government has a right to intrude on a woman's most private decisions even as he holds himself up as an avatar of civil liberties. That says he really doesn't understand these principles and probably holds his position on civil liberties as a convenient tool with which to broaden his appeal beyond his radical libertarian goals on taxes, regulations, guns, civil rights etc.

The "youth vote" cares about civil liberties.  But it sees it a little more broadly than Paul fantasizes.  Young people also care about  gun proliferation, climate change, racial equality, economic and social justice and private debt, all of which are things that Paul is on the wrong side of. He will not be able to gain more than a few rich young tech geeks and maybe a handful of conservative hipsters who are embarrassed to be regular Republicans. They aren't stupid. His manipulative inconsistency is obvious.

Is he a useful member of congress on these NSA issues? Absolutely.  It's common to have members of both parties taking up the cause of civil liberties. By definition, civil liberties often requires strange bedfellows who must defend the right of their ideological foes to have the same freedoms they want for themselves.  In fact, it used to be a lot more common than it is today now that the GOP has congealed into a hard core conservative bloc with a handful of libertarian cranks like Paul.  But you defend the constitution with the Senators you have not the Senators you'd wish to have so it's a good thing he's there making that case even if his actual philosophy is full of holes.

But if you think Paul is leading the Republican party into neo-isolationism and a shrinking of the national security state, think again.  They only care about this stuff when a Democrat does it. Look at the polling over the years as well as today to see that the Republican Party is, at it's core, a martial, chauvinistic, authoritarian political party. That's not changing. And yes, the Democrats are nearly as bad (and sometimes even worse in practice) but the party has a large, permanent faction which believes in peace, diplomacy, transparency and civil liberties and which at least puts pressure on their own from time to time. The Republicans have a couple of guys from Silicon Valley who say they care about civil liberties but not at the expense of getting their tax rate lowered. So they support a presidential gadfly who has no chance of winning or influencing anything within the GOP on civil liberties but whose Party will help them with that tax problem. Fair enough. But let's not kid ourselves about what this is all about.



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