The Most Interesting Man in the Senate

Rand Paul reshapes the national debate.

The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, Center Street, 255 pages, $21.99

“On the Democrat side, we have a proposal to cut about $5 billion to $6 billion for the rest of the year. To put that in perspective, we borrow $4 billion a day. So the other side is offering up cuts equal to one day’s borrowing.…Now, on our side of the aisle, I think we have done more, the cuts are more significant, but they also pale in comparison to the problem. If we were to adopt the president’s approach, we would have a $1.65 trillion deficit in one year. If we were to adopt our approach, we’re going to have a $1.55 trillion deficit in one year. I think both approaches do not significantly alter or delay the crisis that’s coming.…I recently proposed $500 billion in cuts, and when I went home and spoke to the people of my state, spoke to those from the Tea Party, they said $500 billion is not enough. And they’re right. $500 billion is a third of one year’s problem. Up here that’s way too bold, but it’s not even enough.” —Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on the Senate floor, March 9, 2011

It’s getting hard to remember now, but there was a time for a little while there when a fair number of libertarians were worried that Rand Paul was shaping up to be another Beltway sellout. There was his post-primary rapprochement with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the powerful and seemingly eternal Senate minority leader who had hand-picked Paul’s opponent to replace retiring Sen. Jim Bunning. There was Paul’s odd August 2010 USA Today op-ed piece, titled “Rand Paul, Libertarian? Not Quite,” which smacked of a self-conscious distancing from the word. And then there was his pre-election meeting in Washington, D.C., with representatives of the neoconservative establishment that had tried to kneecap him in the Republican primary, including Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol, American Enterprise Institute scholar Thomas Donnelly, and former Iraq Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor.

“Well, yes, it looks like Rand Paul is indeed a neocon stooge,” Antiwar.com columnist Justin Raimondo wrote after that meeting. “The great danger is that the election of Rand Paul to the US Senate will change the ideological complexion of libertarianism, as it is perceived by the public, and quite possibly succeed in derailing the ongoing work of his father and the Campaign for Liberty in challenging the neocons’ hegemony in the GOP when it comes to foreign policy.”

Raimondo’s fears may have been stated hyperbolically, but they were far from marginal among the supporters of limited government, particularly the fans of Paul’s famous father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). At online forums such as The Daily Paul, in the comments section of reason’s blog Hit & Run, in libertarian-friendly D.C. watering holes, there was a persistent murmur of doubt: Was Rand Paul riding his father’s coattails (and national fundraising network) to a victory that would produce just another foreign policy belligerent and libertarian squish on Capitol Hill? 

Those fears began evaporating into thin air in the span of seven minutes on election night. That’s how long it took Sen. Paul to deliver his victory speech, a piece of oratory notable for its full-throated defense of free markets and limited government—and for not once mentioning the word Republican.

(Article continues below video.)


“Tonight there’s a Tea Party tidal wave,” Paul said at the outset of his remarks. “It’s a message that I will carry with me on day one. It’s a message of fiscal sanity. It’s a message of limited—limited—constitutional government and balanced budgets.…America is exceptional, but it is not inherently so.…America will remain great if and when we understand…that government cannot create prosperity.…Do we wish to live free, or be enslaved by debt? Do we believe in the individual, or do we believe in the state? Thomas Jefferson wrote that government is best that governs least. Likewise freedom is best when enjoyed by the most.” 

The next day, all across the cable news outlets, the most prominent Tea Party politician in America was confidently doing the unthinkable: explaining why his Republican Party, at long last, needed to get behind cutting military spending, just as surely as Democrats needed to cut domestic spending (a one-two formulation Paul has used in just about every public appearance since election night). Within four months, Paul’s heretical ideas had gained enough traction to recruit other Republican senators, including Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Mike Crapo of Idaho, and a half-dozen others.

Even while being sworn in, Paul gave notice that the most radical of the budget-cutting notions being floated by the new GOP hotheads in the House of Representatives—totaling $61 billion, maybe even $100 billion this fiscal year—were utterly inadequate to the gravity of America’s crisis. “In January alone I will introduce a one-year, $500 billion spending cut, along with a balanced-budget amendment,” he promised. He delivered on that promise three weeks later, with a bill that proposed ending the Departments of Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development, slashing the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Transportation, and eliminating all foreign aid, including aid to Israel.

Having outflanked the most radical of the incoming Tea Party freshmen in the less temperate House, Paul then—by deed, not word —made a mockery of the much-ballyhooed “roadmap” of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to tackle entitlements and balance the federal budget by 2063. Paul instead wants to balance the budget in five years. In March he unveiled a plan to reduce government spending by $4 trillion relative to President Barack Obama’s long-term budget proposal by ratcheting back spending to fiscal year 2008 levels, eliminating the Department of Commerce (in addition to the ones above), capping and block-granting Medicaid payments to the states, and enacting bold reforms on entitlement spending.

“Entitlements will consume the entire budget within a few decades,” Paul writes in his sprightly new book The Tea Party Goes to Washington. “Entitlements plus interest will consume the entire budget in a little over a decade. Is it any wonder that [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman] Admiral [Mike] Mullen, [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates and others have said that the biggest threat to our national security is our debt?” What about Rep. Ryan’s plan? Paul is blunt: “We don’t have six decades to fix entitlements.” 

Unlike any other national politician of recent vintage, Rand Paul has the cheerful confidence that confronting entitlements is a political winner. “I don’t think we lost many votes because of my willingness to discuss entitlement reform,” he writes.

Judging by the reactions to his own plans, he may be onto something. Until last November’s elections, the Tea Party “kingmaker” in the U.S. Senate, by acclamation, was Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). He was the one who defined the most radical edge of the fiscal agenda in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. But in Rand Paul’s few short months in office, he has seized that distinction. Unveiling his five-year balanced budget and entitlement reform plan, Paul was front and center, and DeMint was at his side.

“My main objection to the PATRIOT Act is that searches that normally require a judge’s warrant are performed with an FBI agent’s letter, a national security letter. I object to these warrantless searches being performed on U.S. citizens. I object to the 200,000 NSL searches that have been performed without a judge’s warrant. I object to over 2 million searches of bank records, called suspicious activity reports, performed on U.S. citizens without a judge’s warrant. In the aftermath of 9/11, our leaders said give us your liberty and we will keep you safe. We would be wise to remember Franklin’s response that those who trade their liberty for security may wind up with neither.…Jefferson wrote that if we had a government of angels we would need no Constitution to protect us. But men are not always angels and I, for one, do not wish to unchain government from the bindings of the Constitution.” —Rand Paul in a YouTube video, February 9, 2011, youtube.com/watch?v=ZSDBswx90Cs

Take a moment to call up the above speech on YouTube. After you’ve watched it, forward it to any friends you might have who suspect that Tea Partiers in general and Rand Paul in particular are reactionary Dick Cheney fans. Americans are not accustomed to a national politician espousing firmly and consistently libertarian ideas, especially those that contradict Republican stereotypes.

In the wake of Paul’s stirring defense of the Fourth Amendment against the encroachments of the PATRIOT Act, The Atlantic’s Chris Good wrote that “Paul has taken up the mantle left behind by a Democrat: Sen. Russ Feingold.” Although this comparison provoked some pushback on the left, Rand Paul has been attracting sporadic praise from the liberal commentariat, even in his darkest political hour: when, after winning his primary election, he got bogged down during an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow (and several follow-up interlocutors) over the issue of whether the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s ban on racial discrimination by private businesses was philosophically justified.

“What is so great about our bloated federal government that when a libertarian threatens to become a senator, otherwise rational and mostly liberal pundits start frothing at the mouth?” the old New Left columnist Robert Scheer wrote at Truthdig. “What Rand Paul thinks about the Civil Rights Act, passed 46 years ago, hardly seems the most pressing issue of social justice before us. It’s a done deal that he clearly accepts. Yet Paul’s questioning the wisdom of a banking bailout that rewards those who shamelessly exploited the poor and vulnerable, many of them racial minorities, is right on target. So too questioning the enormous cost of wars that as he dared point out are conducted in violation of our Constitution and that, I would add, though he doesn’t, prevent us from adequately funding needed social programs.” 

The dead-enders of the Beltway left, however, continued to treat Paul like a mental patient. “By nominating a lunatic,” Center for American Politics blogger Matthew Yglesias wrote after Paul’s primary victory, “Republicans have suddenly taken what should be a hopeless Senate race and turned it into something Democrats can win. At the same time, by nominating a lunatic, Republicans have suddenly raised the odds that a lunatic will represent Kentucky in the United States Senate.” Nor was this sentiment confined to the left. “Rand Paul’s victory in the Kentucky Republican primary is obviously a depressing event for those who support strong national defense and rational conservative politics,” former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum wrote at the time. “How is it that the GOP has lost its antibodies against a candidate like Rand Paul?”

Paul parries these attacks with a bemused but direct engagement; you can see he thinks he’s going to win a long-overdue David vs. Goliath argument. A good portion of his book is spent examining and decrying how the Republican Party became “tainted by neoconservative ideology,” mistaking “national greatness” for a willingness to intervene willy-nilly into the affairs of foreign countries, while tolerating big spending projects at home. “The Tea Party,” Paul claims, “is now a threat to the old Republican guard precisely because its stated principles prevent it from being brought into the neoconservative fold.”

As a minority radical in a minority Republican Senate caucus, in addition to being the most successful Tea Party–branded politician in the country, Paul is engaged in a dual-track education experiment: trying desperately to move the 50-yard line of the national conversation about government spending and debt while trying to bring some robust libertarianism into a decentralized Tea Party movement that has mostly agreed not to talk about foreign policy. Paul repeatedly states in The Tea Party Goes to Washington that this new grassroots uprising will reject neoconservative or Wilsonian foreign policy adventurism, but these are assertions long on faith and short on facts. There has always been a kind of uneasy embrace between hardcore Ron Paul supporters and the more nationalistic types who flock to Tea Party events; Rand Paul’s challenge is to bridge that gap.

“I think libertarian has become a better term than it once was, but it still scares some people, and it’s used by some people to scare others, particularly in the South and different places.…Although I would say that since the George W. Bush era, when the term conservative became somewhat meaningless, now a lot of people—and you’ll see people who probably really are more traditional conservatives —[want] to use the word libertarian because it’s a more distinctive term. So in some ways it has come into better usage now among the common public. But I think people understand constitutional conservative better, at least where I’m from, than they do the word libertarian.” —Rand Paul, interviewed by reason.tv, March 14, 2011

Rand Paul’s practical definition of libertarianism, or “constitutional conservatism” if you prefer, will certainly differ from mine, and maybe from yours. He is very strongly anti-abortion—one of his first acts in the Senate was to co-sponsor the Life Begins at Conception Act—and while I have intellectual respect for the libertarian anti-abortion argument, I don’t agree with it. He does not favor (though rarely discusses) gay marriage; as with abortion, he prefers such things to be handled at the state level. He talks about wanting to “secure the border” in ways that I instinctively recoil from. Why, he doesn’t even want to legalize heroin! 

I mention all this both to add a note of caution and to illustrate the practical absurdity of internecine squabbles over quien es mas libertarian. There is no limited-government faction small enough that it doesn’t want to split itself in two with angry recriminations. Some of this reflects perfectly natural differences in philosophy within a marginal though growing political tendency that is anchored to explicitly philosophical roots. It is normal to compete over the term, over beliefs, over the market share of global libertarianism or whatever you want to call it.

But let’s be honest: This schismatic tendency stems partly from the instinctive crankiness of people who prefer living in the margins, nursing grievances, and hunting down heretics. They have chosen one lodestar, and anyone else casting off light in the darkness runs the risk of being treated like a hostile invader, even if he shares the same last name (and D.C. condo). Vive la difference and all, but it’s a puzzling conception of libertarianism that excludes the first senator in memory to be as anti-war, anti-surveillance, anti–police abuse, anti–big government, and anti-spending as Rand Paul. He has done more to inject libertarian ideas into the Washington debate than any senator I can remember, all within his first three months in office. It’s a remarkable achievement. 

Paul’s approach toward the limited-government big tent in The Tea Party Goes to Washington is to mention and quote from people from all factions within—and sometimes without. He waxes nostalgic about Murray Rothbard, quotes serially from Pat Buchanan, name-checks the Mises Institute, the Cato Institute, reason, The American Spectator, and The American Conservative (whose Jack Hunter helped out with the book). He is similarly open when it comes to certain Republican stars, defending (in a pretty interesting couple of passages) the radical example of Ronald Reagan against his latter-day appropriators, expressing heartfelt gratitude toward social conservative James Dobson, and praising Sarah Palin (whose endorsement in the primary was critical to his success). In the book Paul does still seem a bit cautious about revealing his true ideology, for instance when he confesses fretting before talking to Palin that she might be put off by his libertarianism. (“Oh,” he reports her responding, “we all have a little libertarian in us.”) Meanwhile, he has quickly become Capitol Hill’s leading fire breather on the very libertarian (and very pressing) issues of slashing government spending and debt.

When Nick Gillespie and I interviewed Paul for reason.tv in March, his eyes lit up at the question of whether Sen. DeMint was right to say that you “can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative.” DeMint, who was supposed to be the avatar of the Tea Party movement, misread the moment, and Paul seemed to know that. What’s more, Paul isn’t afraid to call his own party out for what happened when they controlled all of Washington.

“Imagine this,” he writes. “What if there had never been a President George W. Bush, and when Bill Clinton left office he was immediately replaced with Barack Obama. Now imagine Obama had governed from 2000 to 2008 exactly as Bush did—doubling the size of government, doubling the debt, expanding federal entitlements and education, starting the Iraq war—the whole works. To make matters worse, imagine that for a portion of that time, the Democrats actually controlled all three branches of government. Would Republicans have given Obama and his party a free pass in carrying out the exact same agenda as Bush? It’s hard to imagine this being the case.” 

What’s next for the Senate’s most interesting man? At press time, there were already rumors of a presidential run, which Paul had not yet got around to denying. Those with a more cynical take on history may note that the graveyards of Washington are littered with the bones of radical freshmen who became domesticated. Paul seems acutely aware of this pitfall.

“Those in Washington are more concerned about furthering their career,” he told reason.tv. “They don’t want to talk about Social Security. In fact, they don’t want me to talk about Social Security, though I’m going to anyway.…But I think politically they’ve miscalculated, because I think people are hungry for someone who will step up and say, ‘This is what’s wrong, and this what I’m going to do to fix it.’ ” 

Matt Welch (matt.welch@reason.com) is reason's editor in chief. To see reason.tv's interview with Rand Paul, conducted by Welch and reason.tv editor Nick Gillespie, go to reason.tv/video/show/rand-paul-interview.

Find this and hundreds of other interesting books at the Reason Shop, powered by Amazon.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Jesus Christ. Another book by a sitting politician. When do these guys find time to legislate?

    I do like Rand Paul, but I'm seriously getting sick and tired of sitting politicians writing books. I'm sorry, but I would actually support a law that says a sitting politician cannot publish a book until he/she is out of office. If they cared about doing the job they were elected to do, they could focus their energies on that and leave the book writing until later.

  • Cyto||

    Right! No politician should be allowed to put their thoughts down on paper in long form!

    Bumper stickers and 30 second TV spots for me! America is the best!

    ... oooh, who's on American Idol tonight?

  • ||

    Right! No politician should be allowed to put their thoughts down on paper in long form!

    They should put them down on paper in long form...by way of bills and proposals.

    OK, maybe I overreacted, but it just seems like every politician publishes more words in Random House than they do in the Congressional Register, and it ought not be that way.

  • Sudden||

    I am far more scared (in the general sense, but not in the instant case) of the idea of politicians actually proposing even more legislation than the otherwise do in lieu of book writing.

  • Jared||

    Ever heard the saying: "Less is more"
    It's that way when it comes to legislation. With less legislation there is more freedom, and with more freedom comes more prosperity.

    I wish all politicians would write such good books.

  • ||

    If we truly do have to have politicians, then rather than 'legislating' it would be much preferable for them to writing books, appearing on reality shows, traveling abroad, fucking whores - well, you get the idea...

  • The Fringe Economist||

    if it were only that way, we'd have way more liberty

  • Untermensch||

    Actually, I wish they'd put more words down outside the Federal Register and instead start taking words away from the Federal Register. If anything distracts them from writing more bad laws (including writing books), I'm all in favor.

  • Matt Welch||

    I'm pretty sure the thing was written before he was sworn in, FWIW.

  • ||

    Fair enough. I guess I went a bit overboard, but it seems like most politicians leave office better off financially than when they got there because of books, speeches and the like, while the government is further in debt at the end of every term.

    Of course, very few of them see the irony in that from their ivory towers. I would be willing to bet Dr. Paul the Younger would be one of the few that does.

  • prolefeed||

    I don't have a problem with a politician writing words and then selling them to willing buyers and making money doing so.

    Dunno, what's your beef with free enterprise and making money?

  • ||

    I humbly stand corrected.

    /snark-free

  • x,y||

    Also, let's just go ahead and assume he wrote the book while he was in office and not, as Matt suggested, before. Welp, that's less time he has to legislate, generally a good thing if you're a libertarian. There aren't many Pauls out there, and you're crazy if you think legislation is liberty friendly (not you personally, prole, just "you" generally). So go for it, I say.

  • ||

    Typically, I'd agree with this, and prolefeed's, WTF's and sudden's assessment.

    Unfortunately, we do need tons of legislation at the moment. Laws don't sunset. They have to be written out of law. All these bullshit executive departments and regulation can only be stopped through legislation. All the growth in government can only be rolled back through legislation, and the out of control monetary policy can also only be stopped via legislation.

    Historically, you guys are all correct in stating that legislation is a bad thing. Presently, however, we need quite a lot of it proposed from the right people to unwind decades of stupid laws, regulations and the like. I hate to say it, but it is a necessary evil.

    *that said, I was pretty childish advocating for a law to keep elected officials from publishing. Not my finest hour.

    [searches frantically fo edit button]

  • Sudden||

    Fair enough, and well stated my fellow Ken. And with that in mind, it is depressing if/when Rand/Ron Paul writes a book while in office (even if we know none of their positive legistlative proposals has a snowball's chance in hell of passing through congress). But even with that in mind, I'd still hope for upwards of 90 senators and 400 congresspeople to spend more time writing books than laws.

  • kda||

    You are right. But, as an outlier in a minority party, Paul's best approach for the moment is probably to educate his own party and some independents. As a libertarian, making his case for his positions is the only way he's eventually going to get things done. There are far too many statists in our midst right now.

  • Brett L||

    Um, hopefully these words are not bills intended to become law.

  • Hank||

    Yeah, and no bathroom breaks! And stripedy uniforms!

  • ||

    I see no problems with this at all.

  • WTF||

    When do these guys find time to legislate?

    Hopefully never. Let them keep writing books if they will only leave us the fuck alone.

  • Barack Obama||

    Excellent. I'll be happy to fill in the gaps with executive orders.

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    Maybe not a law, per se, but perhaps a Congressional bylaw would suffice?

    I do take your point that these guys need to spend more time on their jobs than on self-aggrandizement, but I don't think a law against books is consonant with libertarian ideals.

  • ||

    What's a bylaw?

  • Richard Stands||

    I think it's spelled buylaw, as in: "The federal government requires you to buy health insurance of a type it defines. It's a buylaw".

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    I dunno, a friendly suggestion that doesn't really carry the force of law?

  • omg||

    It was probably ghostwritten. So Rand Paul probably just wrote an outline of what he wanted it to look like along with a few passages, then looked it over when it was finished. Or if he is like his dad, he didn't. HEYOOOOOOOOO

  • SIV||

    in the comments section of reason’s blog Hit & Run

    Who the fuck cares what those Cosmo-Fags think?

  • SIV||

    in libertarian-friendly D.C. watering holes

    Who the fuck cares what those Cosmo-Fags think?

  • sarcasmic||

    And when he drinks beer, he drinks Dos Equis.

  • ||

    The new ad, where he scolds the mountain lion on his kitchen counter, is a win.

  • prolefeed||

    link?

  • Mike M.||

    Stay liberty loving, my friends.

  • TANSTAAFL||

    He doesn't always pass laws, but when he does he prefers it to be constitutional...

  • Obama's Mama||

    Well my boy doesn't often read, but when he does he prefers a teleprompter

  • Sudden||

    Wait, a white woman calling a black man "boy"....


    RACIST!!1!!1!

  • yonemoto||

    You know as much as Raimondo is an ass, we need people like him to put pressure on our elected officials to stay true. Keep being an ass, Raimondo!

  • Brandybuck||

    Being Raimondo means never having to say you're sorry.

  • Sudden||

    He would rather see a 95 year old die of natural causes than an infant born into debt and slavery.

    He believes national greatness is achieved by actually being great, not by dropping bombs on and invading third world deserts.

    He doesn't want your grandmother to starve, but thinks its acceptable if she has one fewer week of cruising each year and switches from Russian beluga caviar to sevruga caviar.

    He sees more through a single monocle than most people see with the Hubble space telescope.

    He is.....

    THE MOST INTERESTING MAN IN THE SENATE.

    "I don't always vote libertarian, but when I do, I prefer to do it to cut spending.'

  • ||

    Good work for an intern, but you're not getting that corner office just yet.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Flippin sweet!

  • *||

    His words carry so much weight they'd break an authoritarian's jaw.

  • ||

    For the record:

    When Christiane Amanpour stupidly asked Rand Paul if his proposed cuts in "defense" spending meant he would cut soldiers' pay, I wrote:

    "Shame on Amanpour for throwing him that curveball, and kudos to Rand Paul, whom I seem to have seriously misjudged. I guess that meeting with Bill Kristol and the neocons didn’t mean what I feared it meant. His remarks not only validate his anti-interventionist credentials, but they also show what a good politician he is becoming: in these war-weary days, you can’t say “bring the troops home” often enough. I’m glad to admit I was wrong about Rand Paul because I can breathe a lot easier, now, knowing he’s going to be a credit to the libertarian movement and his father’s legacy."

    http://original.antiwar.com/ju.....speration/

    By the way, Matt, did you finish reading Atlas Shrugged yet?

  • Matt Welch||

    Still working! And thanks for that link.

  • Brandybuck||

    Maybe you shouldn't be so quick to cast the impure into the outer darkness. Like, maybe wait for someone to cast a vote in the senate before accusing them of selling their vote.

  • Bee Tagger||

    To the darkness, you unholy monster!

  • Bee Tagger||

    I seem to have misjudged you, Brandybuck. I'm glad to admit I was wrong when I called you an unholy monster.

  • Brett L||

    We must have purges! How will they know we're a serious movement if we don't have purges?

  • OO||

    if it was up to rand, then binLaden would still be channel-surfing in his vaca home.

  • Bored||

    The only solution for terrorist leader easy living...summary execution!

  • Barak Corleone||

    Today I settled all family business

  • ||

    unfortunately, his social stances will make me never support him. he wants government intrusion gone from lives except when it comes to who you marry and how women control their internal organs. Then he's all about full intrusion. Hypocrite.

  • ftfy||

    he wants government intrusion gone from lives except when it comes to who you marry government defining marriage and how women control their internal organs not punishing the murder of the unborn

  • Cytotoxic||

    You can't murder an unborn nonperson asshole. Why can't we quarantine these people in Jesusland or something?

  • ftfy||

    I've heard of people being charged with murder for terminating a pregnancy. For example a drunk driver in an accident with a pregnant lady causing her to lose the child.
    Also I've heard of people being charged with two counts of murder for killing a pregnant lady.

    Who's Jeebus?

  • Sku||

    I wasn't aware he wanted the federal government to say anything whatsoever about whom you marry

  • ftfy||

    Replace a 'B' with a 'D' and drop an 'e'

  • The Gobbler||

    That sounds like too much work.

  • Tango Mike||

    Douchr? Are you sure about that?

  • ftfy||

    Oops.
    BDoucher

  • ||

    The issue of abortion is a little more complex than "how women control their internal organs". At some point in the pregnancy another human is formed, deserving the protection of the Constitution we all enjoy. Is that point the moment of conception? I would say not, but it's also not the moment of birth either, IMO. Then there is the federalism argument. Overturning Roe v. Wade doesn't automatically ban abortions everywhere, it simply allows each state to make it's own laws on the issue. That seems more consistent with the idea of small government to me.

    On the issue of gay marriage, I'm sorry, I just can't seem to give a shit at this point when our country is in such a fiscal mess.

  • Sudden||

    On the issue of gay marriage, I'm sorry, I just can't seem to give a shit at this point when our country is in such a fiscal mess.

    I more or less agree with this sentiment. Though I'm a major proponent of the right to contract, and believe that gay marriage ought to be recognized by that rationale (and I am unpopular given that I don't find the equal protection case persuasive because a heterosexual is similarly forbidden from marrying the same sex). But at the junction we are at, with the devastatingly serious financial reprecussions inches away, I am more than willing to support someone whose stance on same-sex marriage is ambiguous or even hostile if they're right on everything else. If everything else wasn't so fucked, I could afford to be pickier on relatively minor issues.

  • Daran||

    Isn't marriage a religous ceremony and by recognizing it, an establishment?

    I think churches can decide what they want with respect to marriage.

    The government can then step in with legal partnerships.

  • ebenezer||

    In early Colonial Massachusetts, under the Pilgrims and Puritans, marriage was strictly a civil contract, which could later receive a blessing from the church. The separatist view was that the church should not wield power over a person's ability to marry. The Pilgrims and Puritans even recognized Indian marriages as legitimate. Church marriages did not become routine (among protestants) until the 19th century.

  • Brett L||

    The sacrament of marriage arose the same way in Catholic cultures. Families would gather on the church steps to sign a civil contract, usually paying a priest to sign as a witness. At some point a mass became involved, and then it became a sacrament.

  • ||

    . At some point a mass became involved, and then it became a profit center for the church sacrament.
  • tarran||

    Bullshit!

    Marriage had numerous religious rites associated with it in Roman culture.

    The early, devout Christians may have eschewed the pagan rites, but as it grew more popular, it was inevitable that the church would make it as religious a rite as those the rest of the population participated in.

  • some guy||

    I suggest we set the bar at whatever the world record is for a premature birth of a child that survived without significant medical help. That bar would certainly move a little over the years, but it seems like a nice place to draw the line. If it can survive outside the womb without being on life-support, then it deserves protection. Otherwise, it's part of the mother and she can do whatever she wants to it.

  • kilroy||

    This.

  • The Unborn||

    We have our own DNA by the time the mother knows we exist. We're individuals, same as you. Just smaller. Animals have more rights than we have. How fucked up is that? Again, if killing us (and you know what causes pregnancy, are you really that stupid/lazy/morally clueless?) isn't initiation of force, nothing is. Good luck with the rest of your rights.

  • some guy||

    That's a scary path you're going down to say that a single cell has the same rights as an adult human. Especially when that cell is sucking resources out of said adult human without consent...

  • Lord of the Offense||

    Don't forget, that cell will eventually destroy the tightness of the mother's vagina, thus making her a useless husk not worth fucking.

  • Corneliusm||

    That is why my wife is only delivering via C-section. And an added bonus: scars are sexy.

  • ||

    Lots of people will rage at my comparison, but here goes anyway: Is there a principle that underlies all cases of termination of life? The death penalty vs. abortion? In the former case, we go out of our way to eliminate pain to the condemned. Do we do the same for a fetus? The condemned get several opportunities to appeal their sentance. Who will speak for the unborn?

  • Josh S||

    I wasn't aware that people who don't live in Kentucky get to vote for Senators from my state. Feel free to vote for as many socialist Democrats in your home state as you like, though.

  • Russell Nelson||

    Tom, before a woman becomes pregnant, she is one person. At some point, she becomes two people, each of whom has rights that need to be protected. It's absurd to say that this happens at conception; equally absurd to say that it happens at birth. It's probably best to have 50 different answers rather than trying to settle on just one.

    So no, it's NOT just about a woman's internal organs.

  • Sku||

    A fetus is an internal organ?

  • ||

    That's what I don't get. Team Red almost use that as a litmus test to define what a libertarian is. The shame of it is that we are pretty evenly divided into pro-abortion and pro-life camps here.

    disclaimer: I an pro-life, both morally and religiously (which can be different, imo).

  • sarcasmic||

    If you're not [fill in the blank] then you're not really a [fill in the blank].

  • Gibby||

    If you're not OO======D then you're not really a {^}.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Rand Paul, Libertarian? Not Quite

    No one is ever quite libertarian. It's unattainable. For example, any libertarian with any intellectional honesty should be able to admit that abortion can fall either way. But, for me, the occasional assertion here that state recognition of gay marriage as a right is a libertarian position tells me that either the group here or I don't know what libertarianism is. (I admit, it's very possible it's me.)

    Rand Paul is like the rest of us, except that he's a shrewd enough politician to know to distance himself from a word that isn't well defined by its adherents much less its detractors.

  • Brett L||

    Isn't more versions of libertarianism than libertarians an Iron Law or a minor law or something?

  • ||

    As the Sacerdote of Iron Laws, I can assure you that no, it is not.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I disagree with both of you.

  • Brett L||

    Well, its a good saying even if neither as pithy or useful as the Iron Laws.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Not as good as the word "intellectional".

  • kilroy||

    the occasional assertion here that state recognition of gay no marriage as a right is a libertarian position

    Why should there be any state involvement with any marriage? That seems the more libertarian position.

  • Fartnoise||

    "As Welch observes, Rand Paul is now the most interesting man in the Senate..."

    To who? Anyone besides Matt Welch?

    That sounds remarkably like an assertion pulled straight from an asshole.

  • ||

    Phaser set to "Ignore".

  • ||

    The incif list just grew by one.

  • ||

    Wait a minute. Rectal. Fartnoise. Is there a similarity here?

  • ||

    Just don't write about "links and ties" on my part to either.

  • ||

    I think this is the new commercial. Worky firewall prevent confirmation.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=9J8oJ0oEN70

  • kilroy||

    That's it.

  • ||

    "The most interesting man in the Senate"... sorta like being the most interesting ant in the ant farm?

  • Colin||

    The Beltway sellout turned out to be Allen West.

  • Scott Brown||

    What am I chopped liver?

  • Bee Tagger||

    I've seen the pics. More like ripped liver. Yum!

  • Cytotoxic||

    I was pleasantly surprised when Welch said about RP discrediting the notion of the TP just being old Cheney supporters. Seems Reason is finally getting it through their cosmotarian heads that the TP is the best hope in the near future. Could someone please forward that video to the douchebags "liberaltarians" at The Volunteer.

    Oh, and that wailing from Antiwar.com is just another reason to ignore antiwar.com, as if I needed it.

  • Untermensch||

    So you mean a bunch of paleocons who let Bush slide for six of his eight years in office are libertarian’s best hope? While I suppose that it's better late than never, I wish I had any belief that the goal isn't to impose a protestant theocracy based on Dominionist theology.

  • ||

    I'm glad someone else notices and is (presumably) scared by that.
    I'd say about 25% of the people I encounter in various liberty forums seem to want a de facto theocracy--as far as I can tell.

    We can quibble about the percentage, but it's certainly greater than zero; those people don't want liberty, they want something else.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I wish I had any belief that the goal isn't to impose a protestant theocracy based on Dominionist theology

    My guess is that people like you want to believe this shit. Like any good liberaltarian/left-liberal you let your cultural prejudices drive your sense of reality.

  • Untermensch||

    How little you know me. I just happen to belong to a religious group that would be one of the first targets of Dominionists. I don't think all Tea Partiers want that, but the social conservative angle is definitely tied in with the Christian Right, which I don't trust at all, precisely because I am religious and don't want those sorts telling me what I can or cannot do.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    I have to say, I'm uncomfortable with the theocrats I see at the Tea Party. It's a diverse and unorganized movement, and for the moment we need to accept that. Then we can work to convert those who might be willing to be libertarians, from econocons.

  • ||

    How can you ever be a sell-out in a free market?

  • Greg Cosmos||

    One of the good things about the Pauls is they don't really have to worry about changing their message to further their careers. They already have real careers. If they lose an election, they can go back to being doctors or writing newsletters.

  • Trivial ends||

    Why are Libertarians so against welfare, unemployment insurance, and food stamps? Do you want people to die?

  • No||

    Well, not really.

    I do not want to pay for your grandmas surgery does not mean "I want your grandma to die."

    Here's a question:
    If you like people living so much, why don't you donate every penny of your paycheck to a hospital and live your life off the land?

  • asdf||

    Kind of.

  • ||

    My super liberal representative said to me personally 2 weeks ago that the key to fixing Medicare was cutting back on end of life care and letting grandma die. You two seem to agree on at least that much.

  • No||

    Also, do you donate blood, plasma, your organs, etc?

    Do you let homeless people live in your house?

    If not, then how dare you let people suffer and die! You're a horrible person!

  • Trivial ends||

    No, I vote democrat and pay taxes that fund healthcare, welfare, and foodstamps. what's wrong with that?

  • asdf||

    Well long as you pay taxes your moral obligation to help your fellow man is complete. Now continue being a self righteous asshole.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    How about this:

    No taxes for welfare. Instead, you can give however much you want.

    Sound good?

  • Trivial ends||

    How does that protect a minimum standard of living? How do "voluntary" payment schemes get the rich, who benefit the most from taxes, to pay their fair share?

    See my essay: Why the Rich Should Pay more Taxes

  • AK||

    Trivial, I read your essay and about an hours worth of other stuff including your blog. Lots of feedback on your writing, here's a sample:

    On April 16, 2011, you wrote:
    "Bottom line: government revenues were 20.6% of GDP in 2000, a time when we had a budget surplus. Bush’s tax cuts reduced this to 18.5% without cutting spending; then the recession reduced it to 14.9%. So the current tide of red ink is a combination of Bush’s tax cuts plus a huge recession. And the Republican approach is… cut revenues by another $3 trillion! "

    Let me re-write this with the dollar amounts.

    "Bottom line: government revenues were $2,025,191,000,000 ($2.025 Trillion) in 2000, a time when we had a budget surplus. Bush's tax cuts reduced this to $2,567,985,000,000 ($2.567 Trillion) without cutting spending; then the recession reduced it to $2,104,989,000,000."

    How is an increase in $500 billion from 2000 to 2007 a "reduction" as you say? As for the income tax revenue only (not the Total Gov't Revenues used above) Yr. 2000: $1.004 Trillion. 2007: $1.163 Trillion. So explain again how Bush's cuts "reduced" revenue? ... I Voted (L) for the record.

    data: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals

  • Dickensian snark||

    "Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.

    "Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

    "And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"

    "They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."

    "The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge.

    "Both very busy, sir."

    "Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm very glad to hear it... I help to support the establishments I have mentioned -- they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there."

  • ||

    Too Quickly He Forgets...today Rand Paul is blithely forgeting from whence he came...another Ky. Tea Party true blue Constitutional Conservative needs only one nod from our newly enthroned Senator...yet the Moffett for Gov. Primary campaign is ignored...by Paul.

  • Mark||

    Something you peaceniks just cannot get through your heads: This man is in the Senate because he DID NOT campaign as an anti-war, anti-military twit.

    I am as individualist and capitalist as you can get. My views make Milton Friedman look like Nancy Pelosi. But I will NEVER support the kind of anti-defense, peacenik, Starbucks twits that make up the Libertarian party and neither will the rest of the United States. Heck - neither will even a significant portion of lowercase libertarians. Never.

    I don't know what has your perceptions of defense so completely screwed up - ignorance? Sophomoric foolishness and arrogance? Insanity? Didn't make it through basic? What?

    But in any case, world history is one really long lesson in the need for defense.

    Does that mean we need TSA orangutans feeling up passengers at random, taking toys away from mentally-disabled people, and stealing electronics and medications from passengers' luggage? No.

    Does it mean that we need to discard the fourth amendment and let the doughnut-munchers go hog-wild - search warrants be damned? No.

    Does it mean that we need to hunt down terrorists who threaten our country's security in order to stop them from committing acts of terrorism? YES.

    YES YES YES YES YES. And here's why: The next time some lunatics pull something like 9/11, you can kiss what's left of the constitution good-bye because the control freaks that have political power in this country will use that event as an excuse to flush any civil liberties we have remaining right down the toilet.

    It is for THAT REASON that defense and counterterrorism is absolutely necessary. Absolutely-positively-all-day-long

  • nike shox||

    is good

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement