EXPLORING THE LIMITS OF RAND PAUL’S IDEOLOGY…. We talked earlier about Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, and his opposition to the Civil Rights Act on the basis of libertarian principles. It appears the national media is just now starting to pick up on the story.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, referring to Paul, said this morning, “He needs to come up with an answer today, or Kentucky will be Arizona: a battleground for ugly, racial politics. He has 24 hours.”

But that suggests Paul needs to find a way to explain himself. That’s not quite the problem here — Paul has already explained himself. He’s now done three interviews — with the Courier-Journal, NPR, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow — in which he’s made clear that he doesn’t see a role for the federal government in prohibiting discrimination in private enterprise. “He needs to come up with an answer”? We’ve already heard Paul’s answer.

The next step isn’t a further explanation; it’s a further exploration of this ideology. Salon‘s Joan Walsh noted last night:

It’s going to become increasingly clear that the Tea Party movement wants to revoke the Great Society, the New Deal and the laws that were the result of the civil rights movement.

Right, and that’s really the next challenge for Rand Paul’s Senate campaign. He’s against the Civil Right Act of 1964 to the extent that interferes with private enterprise. He’s against the Americans with Disabilities Act for the same reason.

It will invariably lead to a new parlor game: what other bedrocks of American society does Rand Paul find offensive for ideological reasons?

If we follow the logic he’s already articulated, Paul must necessarily oppose the minimum wage, for example. The Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, in light of their burdens on private companies, would be equally problematic. Social Security must be out of the question. Child-labor laws would obviously be a problem, as would workplace safety regulations and OSHA.

We can even start exploring more details on discrimination. Paul talked about segregated lunch counters yesterday, but let’s also explore employment discrimination. If a private company decided to fire a woman for getting pregnant, Rand Paul would necessarily conclude that it’s not the government’s business. If a private employer refused to hire Jewish applicants, that, under Paul’s worldview, would be legally permissible, too.

Rand Paul will spend the next six months trying to defend his philosophical worldview. It should be interesting to watch.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.