Ron v. Rand

It would appear that the Pauls have different views on Park51.

Rand Paul, Republican candidate for the Senate seat in Kentucky, sat for an interview with the Daily Caller and had the following to say in regards to Park51:

If the goal of the building’s organizers is to reconcile, Paul thinks there’s a better way to do that. “I think reconciliation is best promoted by — instead of having a multi-million dollar mosque — maybe having a multi-million dollar donation to the memorial site, would be better for all.”

He said he doubts he could change Obama’s mind on anything because they come at issues from such different philosophies — but if he could, he’d change the president’s mind on the government’s runaway spending.

In the grand scheme of things, one could argue that that is a non-answer.  At a minimum he is eliding the actual debate.  Still, given his libertarian leanings, one would have expected a somewhat stronger defense of property rights and general freedom of action.*

The especially striking thing here is that it was just a few months back that Rand Paul was so stridently wedded to his beliefs bout the sanctity of private property rights that it led him to criticize elements of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In several interviews back in May Paul tried to make a principled argument against certain articles of the CRA on the basis of his profound belief in the sanctity of property rights** (and he was, if I recall properly, roundly defended in many quarters, on those grounds).***

In terms of evaluating exactly what Paul believes, it is a bit odd that at one point he was willing to engage in a pointless**** debate on the CRA on the predicate that he was talking about principles, and yet when a contemporary case emerges that would allow him to make a strong point about those principles, he appears to be declining to do so.

Now, it is absolutely the case that there is not a direct analogy here between discrimination at the Woolworth’s lunch counter and opposition the Park51 project, but in terms of basic principles, one of the ones clearly on the table here are property rights.  As such, one would have expected Rand’s position on Park51 to be more like his father’s rather that the squishy political dodge noted above.

And, in re:  Obama and “different philosophies” I think he is right, on balance.  Still, on this topic I find it ironic that Obama has come closer to what I would have though would have been Rand Paul’s philosophy on this issue.

Bottom line:  I am somewhat surprised at Rand Paul’s positions.  On the other hand, it is not all that unusual for practical politics to trump abstract political philosophy, and this is likely what is going on here.

Others commenting on this:

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*At a minimum, the recommendation of a massive donation of cash to the memorial strikes me as decidedly anti-Randian (of the Ayn type), given her disdain for charity.  However, I am unsure if Rand Paul has ever cited Objectivist views, so this comes to mind more because of his first name than anything else, I guess (which, for the record, he states in the DC piece, is not a case of being named after Ayn Rand).

**Which, for the record, I took issue with.  And, just to be clear, my position on Park51 is not just one of private property rights, although that is part of it.  I think that private property rights are fundamentally important, and should only be abridged in extreme circumstances, like massive discrimination against a large number of American citizens.

Also, I fully understand that there have been no actual actions (apart from a lawsuit, that I expect has no chance) to abridge the property rights of the Park51 project.  Still, there are an awful lot of people who think that, on balance, their sensibilities ought to outweigh property rights.  Beyond that, there are multiple issues going on here.

***Indeed, it would be interesting to see the positions on Park51 of those who came to Paul’s defense regarding the CRA.

****Pointless insofar as the CRA is settled law.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, Islam, Religion, US Politics, , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Rand Paul initially had it right last week when he said it was a local issue, then, under pressure from the press, he expanded his comments to say that while he believed there was a right to build the mosque, he didn’t think it was an appropriate thing to do.

    Not my position, but at least he’s not using the demagougary of the Palin/Gingrich crowd.

  2. at least he’s not using the demagougary of the Palin/Gingrich crowd.

    Agreed. I still think it a bit telling that at one point he will willing to incur a great deal of wrath over property rights and now is shying away from the principle in question.

  3. I still think it a bit telling that at one point he will willing to incur a great deal of wrath over property rights and now is shying away from the principle in question.

    Two words — campaign advisers

  4. Two words — campaign advisers

    Indeed. There is no doubt that this about practical electoral politics.

  5. Dan says:

    A property owner’s right to deny black people service in a private business makes the Republican base excited and motivated. A property owner’s right to build a Mosque on his own land makes the Republican base sad and confused.

    He’s learning.

  6. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    A conversation in an echo chamber between empty spaces.

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    This should please some of you. I have erased OTB off my browser. The stupidity posted here is beyond anything I find needs me to read or support in any manner. To bad, I have been reading and commenting here for years. It was a good place to visit when Dr. Joyner was the main blogger. Taylor and Mataconis have moved this blog to an area where it could change the name to the Daily Kos and no one wouild know the difference. I will drop by from time to time to see if corrective actions are taken by the originators.

  8. It’s sad to watch a principled man fall victim to the dodgy-ness of the political game.

    My guess is that if this were two years ago, Rand’s statements would mirror that of his father’s. But, as it is not 2008, and Rand is in the midst of a campaign for U.S. Senate, we get this … stuff.

  9. PD Shaw says:

    I don’t see the contradiction. Rand said he would not support the CRA as an improper role for the federal government, but he also said “I would not go to that Woolworths, and I would stand up in my community and say that it is abhorrent.”

    Here Rand is not supporting a law against the development, but is standing up in his community and saying the development is unwise to the extent it’s intended to promote reconciliation.

  10. Neil Hudelson says:

    “This should please some of you. I have erased OTB off my browser. ”

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  11. tom p says:

    >>>>I don’t see the contradiction. Rand said he would not support the CRA as an improper role for the federal government, but he also said “I would not go to that Woolworths, and I would stand up in my community and say that it is abhorrent.”

    Here Rand is not supporting a law against the development, but is standing up in his community and saying the development is unwise to the extent it’s intended to promote reconciliation.<<<<

    PD, you lost me here.

    Here Rand is, sitting at the woolworths counter, drinking the coffee, eating the bacon and eggs, and saying, "the development is unwise to the extent it’s intended to promote reconciliation."

    1964 all over again.

  12. anjin-san says:

    > “This should please some of you. I have erased OTB off my browser. ”

    Perhaps you will go out and get a job…

  13. Steve Plunk says:

    I’ll miss ZRIII and his occasionally over the top yet analytically correct observations. What he says is very true, this is no longer a center right blog but is now a liberal blog dominated by two newcomers. I miss Verdon and think our host posts too little these days.

  14. Liandro says:

    Dr. Taylor, this post was fairly misleading.  Rand lead by saying this isn’t an issue he thinks the federal government has any play in…which is very much in line with his libertarian-streaked ideology (and common sense?).  You don’t mention that at all.  Rand then point out the obvious–that one of CordobaHouse/Park51’s stated goals was to help bring reconciliation, and that it is failing dramatically already in that area.  He doesn’t bring up property rights issues because they are not even in play: it is clearly their right to build.  He finishes by emphasizing that it is not an issue worth bringing up with Obama; not when compared to spending or fiscal issues.
     
    I think he is dead-on.  He pointed out that it wasn’t a federal issue, and then pivoted back towards federal spending problems.  Good for him.
     
    Btw, his first name is Randal.  Not sure if you knew that?