Given that Rand Paul has now formally announced his candidacy for the Presidency, a number of people have asked for my thoughts on the subject. Here they are.
I’m not a Rand Paul supporter. Some libertarian-types think he’s merely a professional politician trying to capitalize on his father’s name and popularity. Others think he’s an “undercover” libertarian trying to work the system against itself. But whether he’s sincere or not, he’s far too middle of the road for my tastes. He tries to present himself as a maverick constitutionalist and a respectable Republican at the same time, and he seems deathly afraid of ever offending anyone. I don’t think presidential campaigns are the best way to advance anti-statist politics (to say the least), but someone who goes that route needs to be either a messenger first and a politician second (like Ron Paul) or someone who simply has a “don’t give a fuck” attitude (like Jesse Ventura).
I think his efforts to assemble an unconventional coalition of supporters is interesting, because it’s slightly similar to some of my own views. But I have to ironically agree with this CNN article in that his outreach efforts to people outside the standard Republican milieu do seem contrived and awkward. It’s interesting that he raises issues like NSA spying and the excesses of the police state, which most Republicans wouldn’t do obviously, but he does so in a lukewarm way that renders his message largely impotent. Also, it’s obvious he has no intention of standing up to the power elite in any serious way. The ease with which he caved in to the Zionists demonstrates that (“I’m against foreign aid…except for Israel?” How craven can you get?) And there’s his latest “increase defense spending paid for with budget cuts” posturing which is just standard Republican neo-Reaganite crap.
Now, it’s true he’s earned the ire of the neocons because he’s not as immediately bloodthirsty as they are, and I suppose that wins him a few points, but I suspect he’ll start sucking more neocon cocks as he goes along and continues to try to build a base for himself in the GOP. He’s the wrong man at the wrong time.
I’m not big on electoral politics generally, but Rand is putting the cart before horse. Before electoral politics ever becomes viable as a strategy, you have to first have the social, cultural, economic, and organizational base of your movement which then enters the system from the bottom up (don’t run for president first, run for dogcatcher). You have to have a stable infrastructure that can withstand external pressures. A bunch of college kids saying “Stand with Rand” doesn’t count. You need a well-organized, powerful, militant, demographic base that is going to hold the politicians’ feet to the fire when they start making too many compromises, sell out, or get absorbed by the system. Rand Paul doesn’t have any of that, and I don’t know that it’s even what he would want. If elected president, Rand Paul would be a Republican Bill Clinton, a weather vane that moves with the wind regarding rhetoric while merely acting as a tool of the power elite in actual practice.
Perhaps Rand Paul is paving the way for a more radical libertarian leader in the future. For example, a libertarian leader with Rothbardian views on foreign policy, left-libertarian views on political economy, and liberal-libertarian Reason magazine or CATO Institute-like views on social issues. But Rand Paul’s neo-Reaganism plus slight libertarian or paleoconservative leanings isn’t it. Rand Paul=FAIL.