The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted 50 years ago today. It’s an occasion Americans can and should celebrate, though some politicians should approach the issue with caution.
Take Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), for example, who issued a statement yesterday to mark the occasion.
“Tomorrow, July 2nd, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is simply unimaginable to think what modern America would be like if not for the brave men and women who stood up for the rights of all Americans. This legislation changed the future of our nation by enforcing the belief that all men and women are created equal. We must continue to build an America that our children-of every race, creed and color-deserve.”
On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with the sentiment. The problem, however, is the disconnect between the message and the messenger.
Paul may prefer that we forget the pesky details, but in 2010, during his first and only campaign for public office, Paul conceded publicly that he disagrees with parts of the Civil Right Act. For the Kentucky Republican, federal laws that barred private-sector discrimination were inconsistent with his ideology. [Update: see below.]
An America without the Civil Rights Act is “simply unimaginable”? Well, it couldn’t be that unimaginable – Rand Paul clearly imagined when he was criticizing the central tenants of the the Civil Rights Act itself.
But that’s not all the GOP senator said yesterday.
Paul went on to tell a Rotary Club audience, “[Y]ou’ll find nobody in Congress doing more for minority rights than me right now – Republican or Democrat.”
If this boast sounds familiar, there’s a good reason: the senator has made it before. Rand Paul honestly seems to believe that when it comes to championing minority rights, he is literally the very best Congress has to offer.
It’s worth noting that Paul, unlike many in his party, has shown leadership on issues like sentencing reforms. It’s an admirable position, worthy of praise, though plenty of Democratic lawmakers have adopted the exact same position.
But it’s the larger context where the senator runs into trouble. Rand Paul has criticized the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act. When lawmakers crafted a Voting Rights Amendment Act to address Supreme Court concerns and protect minority rights, Paul took a pass, refusing to sign on as a co-sponsor.
The senator also opposes equal marriage rights for all. He also found a neo-Confederate who celebrates the birthday of Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, wrote a book with the guy, and then hired him to work on his Senate staff.
He’s also on board with his party’s voter-suppression agenda, which disproportionately affects minority voters.
“[Y]ou’ll find nobody in Congress doing more for minority rights than me right now – Republican or Democrat”? Seriously?
Paul really needs to pick a different topic to brag about. This one isn’t working well at all.
Correction: I’d originally posted a quote from a 2010 interview between Rachel and Rand Paul on his concerns regarding the Civil Rights Act. The quote wasn’t as clear as I’d originally thought. Here’s the video so people can see it for themselves:
I’d add, however, that there are other quotes from 2010 in which Paul, as a candidate, was critical of the civil-rights law.