Rand Paul’s strange, frustrating social conservatism
Rand Paul has generally been a good ally for libertarians in the Senate. However, much like his father, he has more than a shade of social conservative in him. Sadly, this side has been rearing its head more often lately.
Last month, Senator Paul made some very offensive remarks regarding President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage, stating he didn’t think the president’s views “could get any gayer”. And now, the Senator is trying to attach a totally irrelevant “personhood” amendment to an unrelated bill.
For those not familiar with these laws, the intent is to define life as beginning at fertlization. The effect would be to not only make abortion totally illegal, but to also have an impact on such things as contraception, some fertility treatments, and some forms of stem cell research. Suffice it to say it could have ramifications far beyond abortion and would likely be an unmitigated disaster. It certainly is not the kind of thing someone who believes in a limited federal government would propose.
Now, I am definitely more sympathetic to the pro-life cause than most libertarians. I believe the country would be better off moving towards a mindset that views abortion as something to be avoided. While I don’t believe it will ever go away, there is nothing wrong in my mind with making the case it is morally objectionable. However, my support comes to an abrupt halt when things like this are suggested. There are few problems that are best solved through heavy-handed government action; and the problems that the federal government should attempt to solve are even more sparse.
So why is Senator Paul proposing this amendment? To me it shows the inherent, damning flaw in the social conservative mindset and why it and limited government cannot live in the same house. In the mind of the social con, limited government goes out the window when it comes to social issues. Whether or not it is good law, or even whether it is in the purview of the federal governement, is immaterial. Especially on the issue of abortion, social cons always err on the side of intrusive, invasive action.
Sadly, things like this will continue to cause heartburn for libertarians who largely love Senator Paul’s support on economic and foreign policy matters. While I still believe him to be a worthwhile ally, the social conservative side of his worldview is here to stay, and it will continue to make many of us cringe.