Rand Paul Says Depression-Era ‘Gifts’ To Blame For GOP Race Woes

Senator Rand Paul is occasionally effective and always entertaining, but his most recent claims have us scratching our heads. Essentially, Paul argues that the GOP’s deep problems reaching out to minorities today are due to hand-outs and gifts put in place back during The Great Depression.

Rand Paul’s Depression comments came down during a speech Wednesday at Howard University, and have since earned the junior Kentucky Senator an avalanche of criticism and backlash.

In front of a crowd at the historically black university, Paul argued that the GOP’s stock started dropping with minorities in the 1960s, because Democrats offered a bunch of “gifts” and hand-outs during The Great Depression.

Paul said:

“I think what happened during the Great Depression was that African Americans understood that Republicans championed citizenship and voting rights but they became impatient for economic emancipation.

“African Americans languished below white Americans in every measure of economic success and the Depression was especially harsh for those at the lowest rung of poverty.

“The Democrats promised equalizing outcomes through unlimited federal assistance while Republicans offered something that seemed less tangible-the promise of equalizing opportunity through free markets.”

To be fair honest, white people voted for New Deal policies as well during the Depression. Paul’s comments may hold some weight, but they dangerously ignore some other pretty harsh realities, like the now-infamous “Southern Strategy“. Worse, Rand Paul’s Depression argument sounds like a kinder, more diplomatic version of Mitt Romney’s infamous and controversial “47 percent” comments.

Paul made things better … worse … better … I don’t know, when he responded to a student question about the changing Republican Party. The question was whether Paul belonged to the GOP that used to free slaves, or the post 1960s weirdness the party has turned into.

Paul said there’s no difference.

“The argument that I’m trying to make is that we haven’t changed. We don’t talk about it… There are some of us who haven’t changed, who are part of that party that you liked, who truly believe that Reagan was still part of that. Who don’t see an abrupt difference.”

Maybe Rand Paul belongs to the Grand Ole Party that was, but more than a comfortable few of his colleagues do not.

But judge for yourself. Are Rand Paul’s Depression comments dangerously naive? Manipulative? Somewhere in between? Is Rand Paul part of the GOP’s problem, or can he be part of the solution? Sound off!

Image via: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons]