Saturday, October 30, 2010

Conway, the Democrat, for Kentucky

Kentucky must take a stand for racial harmony and Rand Paul, in defending the indefensible for even the purest and non-racist of reasons, has disqualified himself from holding higher office.

Like Marc Rubio, the Republican candidate vying for Jim Bunning’s senate seat has been unfairly lumped in with Tea Party nominees Sharron Angle and Cristine O’Donnell. Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist from Kentucky is and has embraced the Tea Party movement, but he is far-smarter (he graduated from Duke University) and more well-informed than these ideological soul mates.

His arguments for both, some of his more appealing and some of his more extreme and downright scary positions, come from an the libertarian intellectual tradition that has its roots in this nation’s founding.

I urged Republican primary voters to back him over Kentucky Treasurer Trey Grayson in the primary. I believed then and still believe now, that a Republican Party that is controlled by Senator Mitch McConnell and the business community isn’t good for the Republican Party and it isn’t good for the country. The voters had to send a message to the power brokers in Washington and it had to send a message to the financial community on Wall Street.

The opposition to the Troubled Asset Relief Program is misguided but certainly understandable. It is based in large part, in the belief that we must return to our capitalist roots, that a company’s success is driven by its ability to provide goods and services which its potential clientele like at affordable prices and that is failure is driven by its inability to do so. The large financial institutions, however failed and the Tea Party voters, like many on the left, saw Washington socialize their losses while privatizing their gains.

The conservatives who opposed these bail outs sent that message to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and it was a message that needed to be sent.

The Political Heretic now urges Kentucky’s voters to send the state’s attorney general, Jack Conway (D-KY) to Washington. Rand Paul’s libertarian principles on the economic issues are just too radical and his consistency in defending them, however admirable, expose the flaws within the libertarian philosophy. Dr. Paul not only supports the fiscally wreck less tax cuts that benefit the rich, he calls for the elimination of the Federal Reserve Board which, among other things, limits the effects of banking panics like the one we could have seen if the companies which are “too big to fail” failed.

Rand Paul also defended BP and from the widespread criticism concerning its handling of the Gulf Coast oil spill. “What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,’” the Republican nominee told Good Morning America. I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it's part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it's always got to be some one's fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.".

Accidents happen. Yes, accidents happen. Some accidents cannot be avoided. Others can be for foreseen. Drinking while driving can lead to accidents but accidents that are caused by someone’s drinking or driving aren’t merely treated as accidents when someone dies as a result of those accidents. They are treated as vehicular homicides. Manslaughter charges can be filed when unsanctioned fights lead to the death of one of the participants.

In each of these cases, the failure to prevent an act that leads to a foreseeable tragic event is treated as a crime. A company’s failure to adhere to basic safety practices can lead to foreseeable tragic events that can be avoided. Companies can and do cut corners wherever they can and it is the government’s job to keep them in line. The failure of the libertarian argument lies in the failure of the companies to police themselves. The American people need a government capable of protecting them from an irresponsible corporation’s operating procedures.

Conway understands this basic point, which is why he was right to back Obama’s health care bill (protecting the consumer who purchases health insurance from the company that tries to renege when its time to cover them) and the watered-down-but-still-better-than-nothing Wall Street Reform Bill (designed to protect investors from irresponsible derivative trades)

But Conway is a deeply flawed candidate in his own right who as of late had run a nasty campaign that would make moderate and liberal independents and Democrats alike squirm and this political junkie question, however briefly, whether he should be urging voters in Kentucky to sit this election out instead of voting for Jack Conway.

One commercial questions the authenticity of Rand Paul’s Christianity based upon a prank the ophthalmologist may have participated in while he was in college. On this particular occasion, Dr. Paul and some friends, it is alleged, once “kidnapped” a college roommate and forced her to worship the “Aqua Buddha.”

We don’t know if Dr. Paul if he and some friends truly worshipped the “Aqua Buddha” or if this was some stupid thing they did because they were drunk but it does not matter what “god” Dr. Paul worshipped then and what “god” he worships now. The only incidents we should ever have concerned ourselves with are the kidnapping charges and as of now there has been no evidence to back them up.

Spreading intolerance and disinformation about one’s religious practices should be a no-no in any election cycle but it is especially appalling in a political climate when one’s Americanism is questioned because those beliefs are not Christian. Liberals were rightly appalled when some Republicans demagogue against the Islamic Community Center that will be built two blocks north from Ground Zero and they are rightly appalled when conservative evangelical leaders question the integrity of anyone who does not adhere to their religious creed.

This country was founded on the right of every American to believe what they want about the nature of, existence in and the instructions of any one, two or group of gods. Questioning Dr. Paul’s allegiance to the Christian creed marginalizes not only him, but anyone who is not a practicing Christian.

Dr. Paul’s beliefs about the Civil Rights Act, more than anything, have led the Political Heretic to support Conway but here too he believes a caveat must be noted. In one of his first post-primary night public interviews the Republican nominee told liberal MSNBC talk show host Rachel Maddow that he supported some parts of but opposed other parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On her show, Dr. Paul expressed support for those provisions banning the government from engaging in racially-based discriminatory policies like the forced segregation of blacks and whites in the public school system but he expressed his opposition to those provisions which banned private organizations from engaging in such race-based discrimination.

The Republican nominee has given the Political Heretic and anyone covering the race any reason to believe he is a racist. Dr. Paul defended his beliefs using the very libertarian principles that this nation was founded on. Private property, he said, is sacrosanct and consequently the right to do what one wants on and the right to invite whomever he or she wants to his or her private property.

But his opinion still provides cover for those who are racists and it re-opens a debate that this country should do well to put away. If the Republicans and the conservatives in Kentucky are truly opposed to racism and viewing people by the pigmentation of their skin (this is their argument against Affirmative Action Programs after all), they should be standing up and repudiating those who are reopening the debate over segregation in business establishments. Whatever they think of Conway’s other positions or the campaign that he ran, Kentucky voters should vote to repudiate the principle that segregation in the private business sector is tolerable and that a candidate who supports the right to engage in such practices can still make it to Washington. In this case that requires a vote for Conway.

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