I’m a fan of the Tea Party movement. However, it’s been clear to me that the movement (or is “phenomenon” a better word?) represents, potentially, a double-edged sword when it comes to electing conservatives.
This isn’t because the phenomenon can be unhealthy for pretty good center-right incumbents like Sen. Bennett of Utah. The problem, instead, is that it may produce not-ready-for-prime-time nominees who will be vulnerable in the general election and, perhaps, problematic if elected.
In Kentucky, the flower of the Tea Party movement, Rand Paul, isn’t ready for prime time, and probably never will be. He thought it would be a good idea to appear on Rachel Maddow’s show (not ready) and express his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the extent it restricts the freedom of private businesses to discriminate on the basis of race (never will be ready).
As a result, Paul is in very hot water, as well he should be. To be sure, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been perverted, post-passage, in some deplorable respects. But Paul apparently was disagreeing with core premises and provisions of the Act as passed, i.e., the view that a restaurant or a hotel cannot deny people service based on their race and that private employers cannot reject job applicants on that basis.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, including its public accommodations and employment provisions, is one of the greatest legislative achievements in American history. It was instrumental in extending to all Americans the promise of our founding, including the basic freedoms and liberties white Americans enjoy.
It isn’t shocking that Rand Paul wants to revisit the wisdom of infringing on the right of racists to deny basic services, and the opportunity to earn a decent living, to African-Americans based on their race. There is a type of libertarian who still wants to fight this battle. What’s shocking is that the Republican party, on the strength of the Tea party movement, has apparently nominated one of them to run for the United States Senate.
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“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill
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