We Americans hold two values dear to our hearts that inherently conflict with each other: liberty and equality. Just ask Hamilton and Jefferson. We have struggled for more than two centuries to keep a proper balance between these two. Come November, the people of Kentucky will have a clear choice taken straight out of that historical context.

Rand Paul is a fervently pro-liberty candidate. He thinks liberty is too important for the government to intervene in the affairs of private persons and businesses, to the extent that if they chose to discriminate based on race, religion, etc., he’s okay with that. He himself wouldn’t himself patronize such a business, he makes clear, but government should not force the business owner to end a discriminatory practice. He makes it further clear that he has no interest in actually repealing civil rights legislation; he is simply stating that he thinks the existing legislation strikes the wrong balance between liberty and equality, without proposing to amend the balance.

Jack Conway will position himself as a fervently pro-equality candidate. He will defend the idea that government should step in – i.e., should limit personal liberty – by imposing civil rights obligations on private persons and businesses who would otherwise discriminate against groups we currently consider protected under the law.

Each of these is a perfectly rational and consistent political paradigm. Personally, I think that the Conway’s view, which is the status quo, is more mainstream and will connect with more voters. But I don’t live in Kentucky, so I don’t get a say in this one. Let the campaign begin.

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