Last week Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson leveled a nasty attack against Rand Paul for hiring longtime conservative-libertarian activist Jack Hunter as a staffer. The ostensible reason for the attack was some “neo-Confederate radio rants” that Hunter had made as a radio talk-show host when he was in his 20s. The title of Gerson’s piece was, “Rand Paul Can Never Be a Mainstream Republican.”
One of the interesting aspects of the article is one that Gerson never addresses, which is: Why should anyone want to be a mainstream Republican?
After all, isn’t a mainstream Republican the very embodiment of the welfare-warfare state? Who wants to be part of that?
Give me one single welfare-state program that the Republican mainstream objects to. With the possible exception of food stamps and subsidies to National Public Radio, you can’t do it. From Social Security, to Medicare, to Medicaid, to education grants, to farm subsidies, to foreign aid to dictators, to the entire gamut of welfare-state programs. The Republican mainstream embraces them all.
In fact, the reality is that there is only one single difference between the Republican mainstream and the Democrat mainstream. While they both have come to embrace the socialist foundation of the welfare state, the Republican mainstream continues to promote the notion that it’s all “freedom and free enterprise.” It’s what might well be called the life of the lie, the life of the myth, the life of delusion.
And that’s really why the Republican mainstream dislikes libertarians so much and looks for every opportunity to attack them with silly political “gotchas.” We libertarians expose the life of the lie of the Republican mainstream. We make them confront their life of the lie, and we expose their life of the lie to other people, especially young people.
And that’s what really terrifies the Republican mainstream. They realize that young people are figuring it all out, which is why they want nothing to do with the Republican mainstream and why they’re moving into the libertarian camp in ever-increasing numbers. They’re realizing that the welfare state is not “freedom and free enterprise.” It’s just another variation of the socialist model that has captured the world.
Young people are figuring out what libertarians have figured out — that they’ve been lied to, especially those who were forced to attend public (i.e., government) schools. They’re figuring out that when people are forced to care for others that that’s as far from a free and voluntary economic system as a society can get.
But that’s what the Republican mainstream has long stood for and continues to stand for — lying to young people and lying to themselves about the system under which they live. And young people are figuring it out.
Gerson says that for the past 150 years, “the main domestic justification for federal action has been opposition to slavery and segregation.” Of course, never mind that during that entire time, the Republican (and Democrat) establishment was responsible for maintaining slavery and segregation (and Jim Crow) at the state and local levels.
But I can’t help wonder if Gerson is familiar with the drug war. Well, of course he is. It’s got to be the most beloved federal program of the Republican mainstream. It’s also just happens to be the most racist government program since slavery and segregation. The drug war has long been a convenient and “legitimate” way to target blacks and have them removed from society and placed within the walls of state and federal prisons. Just ask the people of Tulia, Texas. What better way to deprive blacks of the right to vote than by convicting them of a felony drug offense? The drug war also provides an excellent means for bigoted cops to spew their racism in a perfectly legal manner by targeting blacks for stop-and-frisk searches and other harassment.
But the good news is that young people are seeing through this racist crock too. They’re reading and studying the arguments that libertarians have long made against the drug war. They’re realizing that it’s a direct violation of the fundamental principles of liberty. They’re seeing its destructive consequences. And they’re seeing the horrible racism that drives the drug war.
Yes, they’re seeing the hypocrisy of the Republican mainstream, which praises the courageous people long ago for standing against slavery and segregation even while, at the same time, continuing to embrace, defend, and support the most racist federal program in our midst today.
Oh, and let’s not forget the warfare state, which the Republican mainstream has foisted upon our land. You know, the invasions, wars of aggression, occupations, torture, kidnapping, rendition, assassinations, support of dictators, coups, regime-change operations, foreign aid, and massive surveillance schemes — practices and programs that would make any totalitarian regime proud.
But it’s all called “freedom” by the Republican mainstream. In fact, according to Wikipedia Gerson was a member of the “White House Iraq Group.” Now, isn’t that something to be proud of? Tell me, Gerson, are you one of those who claim to love the Iraqi people so much that you just wanted to bring them “freedom” with your invasion and occupation that killed, maimed, incarcerated, and tortured untold numbers of Iraqis? Or are you one of those who say that it was necessary to invade Iraq as a self-defense measure to protect America from Saddam Hussein’s scary WMDs and mushroom clouds that he was supposedly threatening to unleash onto American cities? Or maybe you’re one of those who rely on both rationales to justify the massive death and mayhem that was unleashed in Iraq by the U.S. national-security state.
Well, I’m curious. Then, where do you stand on the killing of those hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children from the brutal sanctions that the U.S. government imposed on Iraq. Do you stand with your US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright, who said that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it”? If so, then how exactly do you reconcile that with your new-found love for the Iraqi people and your purported desire to bring them “freedom.”
Oh, and one other thing I’m curious about. As a member of the Republican mainstream, were you one of those supporting, defending, and embracing Saddam Hussein during the 1980s, when he was a friend, partner, and ally of the U.S. government? And if so, how do you reconcile that with your newfound love of the Iraqi people?
You see, Gerson, this is another part of the Republican mainstream that young people are discovering — the part in which you and your people have taken our nation to the dark side, to the side that is antithetical to the principles of morality and freedom. They’re discovering that the beloved national-security state that the Republican (and Democrat) establishment have foisted onto our nation is, along the welfare state you people have foisted onto our nation, the root of America’s woes.
And let’s not forget that massive secret surveillance scheme that you people have foisted upon our nation and the world. You know, to keep us “safe” — safe from the very terrorist threats that the national-security state itself generates with its morally bankrupt interventionist foreign policy. What a racket!
Oh, one more thing about Iraq, Gerson. Rumor has it that Saddam Hussein hid those infamous WMDs near the Gulf of Tonkin. So, if you people need another false and fake excuse to reinvade Vietnam and kill another 2 million Vietnamese and sacrifice another 58,000 American soldiers for nothing, there it is. And please don’t tell me that Vietnam was only a Democrat mainstream war. You know darned well that it was a Republican mainstream war too.
And what’s wrong with telling the truth about the Civil War too? Every schoolchild in America is taught that Lincoln initiated the war in order to free the slaves. If only it were true. Alas, it’s not. Lincoln made it clear from the get-go that his aggression was not to free the slaves but rather to prevent the South from seceding. What’s wrong with telling people the truth about Lincoln and his motives for bringing about a war that killed hundreds of thousands? After all, if Lincoln were concerned about the plight of the slaves, why not simply let the South secede and then let the North serve as a permanent sanctuary for escaping slaves?
And what’s wrong with pointing out the war crimes that Grant, Sherman, and Lincoln committed against the people of the South? What’s wrong with objecting to war being waged against women, children, and old people? What’s wrong with telling people the truth about Sherman’s infamous and cowardly March to the Sea?
What’s wrong with pointing out that the brutal dictatorial powers that Lincoln assumed as part of his war against the Confederacy? Why shouldn’t Americans, including young people, know about this?
The fact is that no self-respecting person should want to be part of the Republican mainstream. It is statist to the core and it is hypocritical to the core.
Moreover, as young people are also discovering, the Republican mainstream is just as responsible as the Democrat mainstream for plunging our nation into the permanent state of economic chaos and crisis in which our nation finds itself. For it is the welfare-warfare state, the drug war, the interventionist state, the imperial state, all of which is fully embraced by the Republican mainstream, that is the root of the out-of-control federal spending and debt that is taking our country down.
Finally, Jack Hunter certainly needs no defense from me. But I do wish to point out that I worked closely with Jack during two weeks of the College Civil Liberties Tours that The Future of Freedom Foundation did in 2012 in conjunction with the Young Americans for Liberty, where Jack worked.
Jack served as moderator for our civil-liberties panels, which consisted of liberal Glenn Greenwald (who, of course, is anathema to the Republican mainstream for his ardent devotion to civil liberties and his fierce opposition to the national-security state), conservative Bruce Fein, and me.
Together with Bart Frazier, FFF’s program manager, the five of us traveled together, ate meals together, and socialized together. I can honestly say that Jack Hunter is one of the nicest, most decent, friendliest, most tolerant people I have ever met.
Gerson, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.