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Monday, May 24, 2010

Liberal Truck Run Amok

One of the difficulties of adhering to constitutional federalism is that liberals always, always want to use conservative acknowledgement of any acceptable role for the federal government as an excuse to require federal government control of just about everything. The slope is very slippery, indeed.

In a column today, Ross Douthat made a point similar to the point I made about Rand Paul, which is that sometimes the weight of history and necessity require limiting one's political ideals:

No ideology survives the collision with real-world politics perfectly intact. General principles have to bend to accommodate the complexities of history, and justice is sometimes better served by compromise than by zealous intellectual consistency.

This was all that Rand Paul needed to admit, after his victory in Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary, when NPR and Rachel Maddow asked about his views of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

“As a principled critic of federal power,” he could have said, “I oppose efforts to impose Washington’s will on states and private institutions. As a student of the history of segregation and slavery, however, I would have made an exception for the Civil Rights Act.”

This compromise, however, is a hole large enough for liberals to drive a truck through. And that truck is not civil rights, it is the entire liberal nanny state.

So observes a blogger at one of the few left-wing blogs I admire (shhh, don't tell anyone), TalkLeft, in taking on Douthat's column today:

The questions to be asked are obvious - what other "exceptions" should conservatives concede? Does Deep Water prove an "exception" is necessary for government regulation of commercial activities that affect the environment? Does the 2008 meltdown prove that an"exception" for government regulation of financial markets is in order? The "exceptions" swallow Douthat's conservative principles.
Yes, that is the problem. Give an inch, and they take a mile. The problem is not the conservative principles, however, but those who are driving the liberal truck.

As I have pointed out before, maritime affairs (no, not Monkey Business) is an area in which federal involvement is recognized in the Constitution, and regulating securities markets is a pretty unobtrusive interpretation of the Commerce Clause. You see, the Constitution does not prohibit the federal government from acting, but it also does not enable health care mandates and salt police.

Even so, sometimes the inch needs to be given. Even to a truck run amok.

Related Posts:
The Irony of the Rand Paul Kerfuffle
They Have Nothing To Fear, But Fear Itself"
"Limited Federal Government = No Government" (or something like that)

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  1. "Even so, sometimes the inch needs to be given. Even to a truck run amok."

    You have just very nicely made the case for why this is not so, and yet you now make the assertion. It simply does not follow.

  2. Thomas Sowell pointed out in one of his books that the Civil Rights Act, despite its grandiose name, didn't actually accomplish anything. Aren't results something that should be considered when evaluating a law, and not just how well-intended its proponents claim themselves to be?

  3. Liberals are always making the exact same case, 'mo your money for my projects'. My money gets reported as W-2 when I'm wage slaving, 1099-MISC when I'm contracting. Why don't you discuss the idea that government grants, of any kind, get 1099-GOV so we can track where those thieves put our money! This is in front of the Texas Republican platform committee in June. Thoughts?

  4. I don't think Paul needs to concede anything. He has a very valid point. And now would be probably the best time possible for him to stand on that principle. Simply turn the argument around on the liberals.

    "Do you deny that any time the government passes laws that regulate private businesses that we give up some of our freedom?" Only a fool or a liberal would deny that.

    "Since you concede that point, then you equally concede mine, namely that, while racism was an ugly and pernicious disease that needed to be stamped out, perhaps the government overreached when it regulated private businesses in the matter of civil rights."

    "Look, we can all agree that racism is evil and should have no place in American life. What we disagree on is the remedy. Racism supported and promoted by government is clearly wrong, a violation of the Constitution and the Declaration that all men are created equal. However, stealing our freedom in the name of good ideas is an even greater evil, because it steals not just from a minority group but from every citizen in America."

    If Rand said something like that, I suspect his supporters would cheer and his detractors would be left looking rather foolish for calling him a racist.