Speaking to the “Students for Rand” group Monday at the University of Minnesota, Rand Paul told them they “don’t have a right to pants.” I would venture to say that if Paul is trying to increase his viability as a candidate, he is going about it the wrong way.
“Government was instituted among men to protect your rights, not to create rights. So you don’t have a right to a chair, you don’t have a right to shoes, you don’t have a right to pants, you don’t have a right to health care, you don’t have a right to water — you have a right to be free.”
“And then you have a right to pursue happiness, but nobody guarantees you happiness,” Paul added.
Oh, yeah, we hadn’t figured that out yet. Thanks, Rand.
Ah, but I do have a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”! That’s in our nation’s other founding document, the Declaration of Independence. It calls these inalienable rights. It does not say they are the only inalienable rights but it gives us these three examples.
If that’s true, what Paul is saying is that I do have the right to pursue happiness without my pants.
Now, I don’t mean to be crass, but I can really only think of one happiness I can pursue without my pants.
Is Rand Paul saying you do have the right to sex? (Or at the very least the joys of exhibitionism?)
And come on, let’s face it, if certain other people are running around pursuing their happiness without pants, that might reduce my own happiness. There are people I don’t want to see without pants, let alone pursuing their happiness without pants.
And if I don’t have a right to pants, why do I get kicked out of stores and restaurants if I don’t wear them? Paul says I have no right to shoes but damned if I can get into a restaurant without shoes. “No shoes, no shirt, no service,” unless you’re Kenny Chesney.
Seriously, if I don’t have the right to pants, doesn’t that imply at the very least a right to no pants?
A bigger problem is this whole “no right to water” deal because the human animal needs water to survive. You don’t last more than three days without it. So how is it I have a right to pursue happiness if I don’t have the right to the one thing I need more than any other to stay alive?
I’d say without some of these other rights – including pants in a Wisconsin winter (you come try it, Rand), I don’t get to live and it turns out I have no rights after all. Which is, I’m pretty sure, not what the Founding Fathers were telling us.
I mean, they all had pants, right? I’m pretty sure they felt the rest of us ought to have pants as well. Let’s remember that in France, where another revolution took hold, the sans-culottes (without-culottes) were lower class people who didn’t have the fancy knee-length breeches the nobility wore under the Ancien Regime.
But even they had pants. They just didn’t have much else. The French nobility didn’t think they had any right to food, for example. And you know what happened to them.
Yet Rand Paul stood up there and said again that he was going to link Bernie Sanders to mass murderers like Pol Pot:
“People say: ‘Oh, you’re saying that Bernie Sanders is Pol Pot.’ No, I’m saying that he’s embracing the same philosophy of socialism that lead ultimately to the extermination of people.”
Which prompted Ann Merlan to joke at Jezebel’s The Slot, “It’s a slippery slope: one second you’re calling for single-payer healthcare, the next you’re rearranging the skulls on your killing field.”
Sounds to me, though, all joking aside, that in denying we have a right to food and water, nihilist Rand Paul is the one embracing the philosophy that leads to the extermination of people.
Paul claimed to his Minnesota fanboys and fangirls that “There are certain rights that are yours, that come to you from your creator, and no majority should take them away.”
Which is pretty funny, when you think about it, because by this logic, we don’t need any laws at all, when obviously we do, as the Founding Fathers recognized. Otherwise, the Constitution would just say, “Do your own thing,” or quote Bill & Ted: “Be excellent!”
Because I’m not a welder, I’m going to lay some philosophy on you now: As Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan, 1651) recognized in a century before the Founding Fathers, life in the state of nature, without laws and government (“the war of all against all”), is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
And without a right to food, water, pants and shoes, with winter coming, I’d say that about covers it. Of course, we can always pursue happiness without our pants until the snow covers our twigs and branches with frost.
One of his Minnesota student supports said “I like the little tinges of libertarian that he has in his beliefs,” but without pants, I think what she is really saying is that she likes the “little tinges of libertarian” that he has in his briefs.
I’m not sayin’. Just sayin’.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.