John Nichols: Rand Paul, R-Big Government
||The Capital Times (WI)
||Thursday, June 28, 2012
It is sometimes suggested that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is something of a libertarian.
Indeed, there were a good many Americans — on the right and the left — who hoped that the son of Congressman Ron Paul might play a role in getting the Republican Party to abandon the totalitarian tendencies that have come to dominate its platforms and political strategies.
Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.
Paul, like so many of his Republican colleagues, has turned out to be a big-government man.
While libertarians and many progressives believe in decentralizing power and making sure that the most authority is rested in the hands of the most people, Paul wants the federal government to dictate policies and procedures to Americans — even when those Americans have fundamental disagreements with what they are being forced to accept.
Case in point: Paul’s blocking of action on the District of Columbia Budget Autonomy Act, a power-to-the-people measure designed to give the voters of Washington, D.C., and their elected representatives more authority over the spending of locally raised tax dollars.
Instead of embracing the decentralization plan, the senator is doing everything he can to undermine it.
The Senate Homeland Security and Government Operations Committee had planned this week to begin the process of moving the D.C. Budget Autonomy Act toward passage in the Senate. But Paul used his senatorial privilege to stall action on the measure with a series of schemes, including the proposing of amendments to weaken the district’s gun laws and ban local spending for reproductive health services.
Paul makes no secret of his intention to use the power of the federal government to impose his will on the residents of Washington, D.C.
“I think it’s a good way to call attention to some issues that have national implications,” the senator explained to the Washington Post newspaper. “We don’t have (authority) over the states but we do for D.C.”
Supporters of the voting rights of Washingtonians are objecting.
Decrying “Sen. Rand Paul’s stunning hypocrisy,” Ilir Zherka, executive director of the group DC Vote, complained: “He preaches about restraining the power of the federal government, but uses that same power to impose his own, narrow political agenda on residents of the District of Columbia.”
That’s the right analysis.
But it should not be coming only from D.C. activists.
It should be coming from everyone who thinks that government is supposed to serve the people, not impose the will of petty politicians on the great mass of citizens.
Rand Paul used to claim to believe in the principles of self-government, as outlined by Jefferson and Madison.
But no more.
He’s a big-government man now.
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