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Posted by on May 14, 2011 in Law, Politics, Society | 24 comments

Ron Paul Would Have Voted Against the Civil Rights Act

Here’s a case of the tree falling not too far from its acorn: announced Republican President candidate Ron Paul says he wouldn’t have voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act:

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) suggested Friday that he wouldn’t have voted in favor of the 1964 Civil Rights Act if he were a member of Congress at the time.

Paul, the libertarian Texas Republican who formally announced Friday that he would seek the presidency for a third time, said he thought Jim Crow laws were illegal, and warned against turning strict libertarians into demagogues.

MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews pressed Paul during a TV appearance on whether he would have voted against the ’64 law, a landmark piece of legislation that took strides toward ending segregation.

“Yeah, but I wouldn’t vote against getting rid of the Jim Crow laws,” Paul said. He explained that he would have opposed the Civil Rights Act “because of the property rights element, not because they got rid of the Jim Crow laws.”

Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), faced criticism during his campaign for Senate last fall because of similar remarks he made, also during an appearance on MSNBC. Rand Paul had advanced a similar argument about property rights, and, under political pressure, issued a follow-up statement in which he voiced support for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and would not support any efforts to repeal it.

As I’ve often noted, it is truly refreshing to see a politician be so candid. The problem for Paul is that he has a chance to make his brand of libertarianism more accessible to people in this Tea Party year in particular. This comment means he won’t have a chance of getting the Republican nomination and even if he did Barack Obama or any Democrat decimate him at the polls.

There are certain “givens” in American politics — even in such a polarized environment – -and the country’s often shifting political center would not support a candidate that a)says he wouldn’t have vote for the landmark Civil Rights Act and b)left himself so open to being easily destroyed by his opponents in political ads, which often distort a the rationale behind a candidate’s assertions.

Even when his rationale is understood, many Americans would never vote for him. So Paul’s run this year will be — as before — mostly an exercise in getting a bigger media audience.

Here’s the full segment with Chris Matthews:

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