Rand Paul may or may not be a racist. I can’t say either way; although invoking the Civil Rights Act as an example of the government overstepping its proper role not once but twice (he also did it in an interview on NPR) certainly leaves the question open for debate. At the very least, Rand Paul’s comments reveal a troubling conception of the proper role of government in society. Specifically, he doesn’t think there is one.
Like his father, Mr. Paul seems to have an aversion to any use of government power at all, even if that power is used for purposes like ending unjust, counterproductive, and downright immoral discrimination. If Mr. Paul has qualms about the legitimacy of government intervention to end the most flagrant discrimination, it’s difficult to imagine he could be totally at ease with any state action at all. While I certainly wouldn’t bet on it, it is feasible that Mr. Paul isn’t a racist. Even so, Rand Paul remains (like his father) a fringe libertarian whose beliefs are so outside the mainstream that it is difficult to fathom Paul succeeding in the Senate at doing anything but saying “NO.”