Rand Paul Is No Libertarian

He’s a standard-issue right wing extremist with a few opinions outside the GOP norm on military issues.

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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., takes questions Monday, July 1, 2013, from about 40 Owensboro Tea Party members in Owensboro, Ky.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., takes questions Monday, July 1, 2013, from about 40 Owensboro Tea Party members in Owensboro, Ky.

DENVER – These days, it's very Washington-chic to debate Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul's viability as a presidential candidate. But despite what Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says – and despite the near-constant use of the word by the media – Rand Paul isn't a libertarian.

Rand Paul is against my civil liberties, and those of every woman in America. He believes big government should be making our most private, personal decisions for us. Rand Paul is not only anti-choice, he embraces "personhood," the far end of the extremist spectrum on opposing reproductive rights.

I'm tired of (mostly male) reporters and pundits calling Paul a libertarian because women's civil rights are somehow a second tier issue. If you believe that, perhaps you can have a chat with Ken Buck – or the guy who beat him, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who's now head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

As a senator, Paul has introduced the Life at Conception Act, which codifies the notion of "personhood" into federal law. 

"Personhood" is a fringe movement that would give full legal and constitutional rights to fertilized eggs under the law. It would outlaw abortion in all cases, even for victims of rape or incest. It would outlaw many forms of hormonal contraception and IUDs, and limit emergency contraception and in vitro fertilization.

That's not a limited-government libertarian. It's the opposite in fact. It's government both big enough and small enough to fit in your lady-parts and in the room with you and your doctor.

When he introduced the bill in March, Paul said in a statement, "The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known – that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore is entitled to legal protection from that point forward. The right to life is guaranteed to all Americans in the Declaration of Independence and ensuring this is upheld is the Constitutional duty of all Members of Congress."

[Read the U.S. News debate: Should Abortion Be Illegal?]

Thanks to Rand Paul and his ilk, I see Egg People everywhere. But silliness aside, personhood is a toxic issue in swing states like Colorado for elected officials and those who aspire to be. As a veteran of the two personhood ballot measures – which both failed by landslide margins – I can tell you politicians embrace it at their peril and were running away from it in 2012. Colorado voters are inherently allergic to having government tell them what to do.

There's nothing libertarian about Rand Paul. He's a standard-issue right wing extremist with a few opinions outside the Republican platform on military issues. That doesn't make him cute, and that doesn't make him acceptable to women voters or any voter with a belief in civil rights and civil liberties.

Call Paul a non-interventionist if you like. Call him an anti-internationalist or opposed to defense spending. But do not call him a libertarian, because he's not one.

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