Rand Paul, Mitt Romney, and the Future of the Ron Paul Revolution

As Ed Krayewski blogged here Friday, Sen. Rand Paul shook up the Ron Paul fan world by his (fully expected, by all those who followed Rand's career and spoke to him much) endorsement of Mitt Romney for president. (I was slightly surprised only by the timing--I thought he would likely wait until the Tampa convention. But his father had just admitted the day before that he wasn't going to win.) 

My first, scrambled thoughts on the topic are quoted in this article from Business Insider by Grace Wyler, who follows the Paul movement intelligently, via a phone interview she did with me on Friday while I was on the road in Portland promoting Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.

To sum them up again myself: Rand Paul is of course playing a delicate game of trying to build on his father's libertarian base out to the more standard red-state right-wing-talk-radio mainstream edge of the Republican Party.

In doing so he may (and may rightly) think he needs the most hardcore no-compromise edge of the Paul movement less than they think he does; but if he blithely assumes he will have the giving, activist energy of that movement on his side moving forward, he's wrong. The very fact that most Ron Paul fans always thought of their guy as the type who would never just go along to get along on any level is key to why they support him so fervently. Again, though, it remains to be seen how large a percentage of the over 2 million people who voted for Paul this primary season are the kind of hardcore who will be alienated permanently from Rand by this endorsement. 

But the political importance of the Paul movement will be reflected in the next 4-8 years in ways other than votes for president, especially if no presidential candidate fully embodies Paulian principles.

*Good Daily Paul post and comment thread summing up the hardcore Paul fan reaction to the Rand endorsement, both those disgusted and those who see it as a sensible strategic normalizing of Paulite ideas within the GOP moving forward.

*Jeffrey Phelps at Examiner.com sees the endorsement as the ultimate betrayal; Barry Lyndon at Policymic as a strategically brilliant move that will further the Paul cause.

*Former Rand Paul campaign manager in his Senate primary in Kentucky in 2010, David Adams, feels "shock and dismay" and points out Rand can't necessarily deliver voters to Romney with this endorsement.

*In happier Rand Paul news, he signs on to a proposed amendment to an omnibus farm bill that would legalize industrial hemp.

*Rick Santorum fears Paulite platform influence in Tampa, as the fight to change the GOP marches on, endorsement or no.

*Jack Hunter, co-author of Rand Paul's book The Tea Party Goes to Washington, also points out that Rand endorsing the eventual nominee was already in the cards, and that the announcement came after Ron Paul himself issued a statement admitting he would not be able to win.

Hunter argues that Rand's authority with the typical Republican voter who he will have to win over in the future would be ruined if he had not agreed to endore the party's candidate, whoever it is. Hunter sums up it as a move that is "a political compromise with the ultimate goal of advancing our principles. This is always Sen. Paul's guiding principle." For those reading the "what does Ron think?" tea leaves, it is worth noting this video appeared at the official Ron Paul 2012 web site.:

 

Tom Woods, author of the Ron Paulite bestseller Meltdown, makes an open call to Ron Paul: don't endorse Mitt Romney. Woods rightly notes it is Paul's so-far successful career as a man who does not knuckle under to the establishment would have its legacy ruined if he does such a thing:

 

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  • Auric Demonocles||

    You know who else promoted a book without using alt-text?

  • Brandybuck||

    Paul von Hindenburg?

  • tarran||

    Of course he can't deliver votes to Mitt! Most people disgusted enough with the government to vote for Ron Paul aren't going to waste their votes on a guy who promises to be the fourth term for George Bush Jr.

    But.... if Rand Paul keeps trying to submit legislation of the sort that he has been to date, that group will support Rand down the road when he is running.

    In the meantime, he skewers the meme that the Paulites aren't really loyal to the party.

    And, by doing it now, by the time Tampa rolls around, nobody will be harassing him about whether or not he supports Romney - instead, he can focus on working the issues with one less handle provided to the media to distract people from what he is saying.

    Also, by bitterly disappointing the paultards so precipitously, Rand has driven them away from his camp, and they are a hindrance rather than an aid to what he wants to accomplish. They will vote for him in the future, but they will lack the off-putting enthusiasm that drives them to annoy and harass the people Paul needs to connect with.

  • Sam Grove||

    All we have to do is watch how he votes.

  • Brandybuck||

    Wait, you mean favor substance over style? Heretic!

  • jackofalltrades||

    Tarran you are sadly mistaken. Everybody knows that you don't change the system the system changes you. If Rand was like his dad, he would understand that he is going to change nothing in the Republican Party with the big government Fascist types around. A couple of things are going to play out, one is going to be war (in order to get the elite out of this), more spending which will lead to hyper inflation eventually, pulling the entitlement plug which is going to set off the communist in revolt allowing the Elite to implement their police state. Buy Silver, prepare, prepare, prepare... The next world war, will come and they will probably come after your commodities again like the last one. Then there will be another 80 years of "prosperity" and eventual debt, destruction and death again. What we need is Jesus Christ not the Paul's. Ron Paul knows these truths as well, his son sold out plain and simple.

  • Robert||

    You write as if there were some non-human system out there. Don't make the mistake of reific'n. Like Soylent Green, the system is people. Whatever way the Republican Party got to be the way it is, it was because of people. People can make it any way they want.

  • jackofalltrades||

    I agree with your comment whole kindheartedly. People make it how they want and all the people who are in the government right now are ran by special interest who are in turn are financed by bankers and all dirty tentacles lead right back to the FED. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT RON PAUL HAS BEEN SAYING FOR DECADES. His son need's to fix himself and voting for hemp aint going to do it. DO YOU GUYS KNOW WHO IS LEADING THE CHARGE OF THE HEMP INDUSTRY?? Marlboro go figure... The FIAT players are still trying to manipulate the game.

  • jackofalltrades||

    The original point of the Revolution was to always strengthen the commodities market in order to give the finger to the entire conglomerate of the Fed's tentacles. To put real wealth back into the peoples hands so that the machine would decay. Rand purposely undermined his fathers movement for his political future. Go back and read Paul's words, gold standard, gold standard, gold standard, gold standard. Which Fiat bafoon on the fed's tit is ever going to let Libertarianism spread in the Republican establishment ranks. You people are hopeless. Continue Rons Revolution, by commodities disconnect from the system.

  • EJBlitz||

    The disconnect between political expediency and the libertarian values by which we judge politician's actions (including statements) will always be present. However, this conflict is exacerbated by libertarians continuing to seek fusion with non-libertarians (including many anti-libertarians) within the Republican Party, sharing their label, branding, and institutional mechanism. Their motive is to reform the party to accommodate their views, yet while they can have some success in that regard, it cannot ever be a sustainable success. This is because the Republican Party is primarily a contrived partisan institution that is not guided by any fundamental philosophy, but shifts with the political winds in a bi-polar, reactive relationship with the Democratic Party.

    Only the Libertarian Party can remove this aspect of the conflict between politics and ideology. If all libertarians were to relocate to the Libertarian Party, there would still be conflict, both as between practical politics and philosophy but also on the finer details of that philosophy. Libertarians raise disagreement to the level of an art form. But those debates would be 'in house', within a party dedicated to liberty.

    In an era where libertarianism is starting to gain greater relevance to mainstream consciousness, the problem of false branding of libertarianism as a variant of conservatism or that the Rick Santorum's of the world are on 'your team' raises serious issues for libertarians.

  • CE||

    ...the Republican Party is primarily a contrived partisan institution that is not guided by any fundamental philosophy, but shifts with the political winds...

    Which is precisely why it can and will be taken over by libertarians, sooner or later. Look at the result of the youth vote in the Republican primaries.

  • Robert||

    The way to exert the most influence in the world is precisely by acting together with people who disagree with you -- especially with a mixture of people who disagree slightly, largely, and diametrically with you on this, that, or the other matter. If you want to move a physical body rather than merely make it spin, the most efficient point to aim your force thru is its center of mass. Similarly, the place you can exert the most influence is where the balance is poised 50-50. If you join an organiz'n where everybody is diametrically opposed to you, your effort is wasted because you are out-pushed. But if you join an organiz'n where everybody is in agreement with you, your effort is also wasted, because you made no difference. You should try to be the swing vote, and the way to do that is to get involved with people who are half with you and half against you.

  • EJBlitz||

    This raises interesting tactical questions for an individual's actions in maximizing the consequence of their efforts, but a party has a much broader mandate than maximizing individual consequence. One can exert influence by acting together with opposing views for specific purposes, but a party aggregates common beliefs over time and over many subjects. Seeking the center of political gravity to maximize effect argues for populism at the expense of principle, which I postulate would result in a short-lived benefit. Your point also doesn't address the problem of false-branding which is an important aspect of party's in practical politics.

  • Robert||

    Whose false branding? The organiz'n's, or individuals'? False branding in an organiz'n can't be helped, because it's run by people who can come y go, change their minds, gain or lose influence, and increase or decrease activity. Everybody who is serious about it realizes that all such branding is only approximate and temporary.

    As to false branding by individuals, I'm sure that goes on but it's too hard to do in a coordinated manner so it's of little consequence in any but the tiniest organiz'ns.

  • CE||

    Which is why Rand Paul really has so much power in the Senate, and the other guys don't want to ridicule him like they used to do to his father.

  • Romulus Augustus||

    Ask yourself how the 2012 Ron Paul effort would have fared had Ron Paul gone ahead and endorsed John McCain in 2008. I think a large portion of RP's supporters (and certainly libertarians in general) get great satisfaction in giving the finger to the GOP establishment rather than being lap dogs that roll over and accept second (or third) class status
    within the "big tent."

  • commentard||

    This is an absolutely necessary political compromise in service of "changing the Republican party from within". As long as the Paul camp is on that fool's errand, this is exactly the kind of thing they'll have to do.

    If you feel "betrayed" by Rand's endorsement of Romney, then I'll submit that you've lost your priorities amidst the "cult of personality" circus the whole Paul-thing became. In your confusion, you invested "faith" in a person/family of persons, rather than keeping your focus on the principles.

    This doesn't turn me off from "The Pauls" anymore than it should you. Given their strategy, this is a logical decision. I disagree with their strategy, and I'll be voting for Gary Johnson in November.

    Emergence of a viable third party or a takeover of the Republican party? It could be argued that either goal is equally rooted in fantasy. My hunch is that the former is more likely (and more likely to produce real change) than the latter, but any argument on this point is pure speculation from any viewpoint.

    Bottom line to the Paullowers: chill the fuck out. The Pauls owe you nothing. As self-described intellectuals, they owe allegiance to their principles. If this is how they think that allegiance is best served, so be it. You don't like it, vote Gary Johnson and be done with it. No emoting necessary.

  • CE||

    I have no problem with Rand endorsing Romney over Obama. It reassures mainstream Republicans that Rand belongs in their party, even if he's more libertarian and more sensible on foreign policy and spending than they are. My vote will still come down to a decision between writing in Ron Paul or voting for Gary Johnson in November though.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Yep.

  • Bright Bulb||

    This means Rand Paul saves himself for a future within the party, maybe a run for President or Vice President in 2016.

  • Proprietist||

    As neither a Republican nor a Paul devotee, I'm still disappointed. One thing to think about though: Rand endorsing Romney essentially frees Ron to not have to endorse Romney and not worry about endangering his son's political future within the GOP. They can say they agree to disagree, Ron Paul keeps his fans and integrity, Rand keeps his career intact, Romney's losses are cut by keeping some of the Paul fans that are willing to go with Rand's endorsement and they get media attention.

    Of course, all that changes if Ron endorses Romney. I still can't foresee that happening without a Rand VP nomination or a promise to be Treasury Secretary or something.

  • rogerfgay||

    Rand Paul Turns to the Dark Side
    http://www.libertarian-examine.....-side.html

  • jacob||

    I'm a relative fan of Tom Woods, but the idea that RP's "legacy would be destroyed" if he endorsed Mitt Romney is a bit of a stretch.

  • Gary T||

    Unfortunately Jack Hunter has me convinced.
    This was a sum decision purely for political reasons, that Rand had to make to allow the best impact on his political career and, I believe, his efforts to promote his father's message and the liberty movement.
    It is distasteful and disgusting, but it might be like the icky medicine that needs to be taken now to cure the disease later.
    For all the things Hunter said, which are true, it will come down to what Rand does in his voting record and his oratory. If we see either faltering in regard to liberty then we will know that the Empire has subsumed Rand. But I don't think so. He hasn't done anything in actuality to put a question or smear on his libertarian street cred, yet.
    I will wait and see, I think this was a wise move for Rand, certainly not for Ron, but will allow libertarian philosophy to ever incrementally insinuate itself into the Republican mindset. For anyone who is sincere, that philosophy has a way of taking you over.

  • Martin Brock||

    Rand Paul can't build on his father's libertarian base out to the more standard red-state right-wing-talk-radio mainstream edge of the Republican Party. The growing room doesn't exist in this direction. Ron Paul appealed to an alienated "left" as much as to the "right". His coalition spans conventional, partisan stereotypes. Like Reagan, Paul has "Paul Democrats".

    Rand Paul can't win over the neo-cons and the left behinders and the banksters in the Republican Party. He can only compromise with them, and if he does, he loses the Paulis, and he should lose them.

  • jackofalltrades||

    Martin you hit it right on the button. A large number of Paul's supporters are disenfranchised democrats who want nothing to do with Rand because of how cozy he is with nEO-cONS. How Ron Paul re articulates what the founders meant in today's terms is why people love Ron Paul. People love Ron Paul because as AMERICANS there is no room for partisan nonsense, the career elite politicians don't have our backs. No trickled down slogan is going to make people vote for any one candidate, people are paying attention now. For Rand to do this, as I think, he was sold something and abandoned his principles. The only thing left to do is to prepare yourselves for the coming dollar collapse. BUY SILVER, GOLD. This country will return to the Gold Standard. When Rand and Lyndsie traitor Ghram have military patrols passing by your house because the communist are out for blood and are going crazy because the government can't afford to keep feeding them head medication... Just forget about them. Protect your family.

  • Alex the wolf||

    It would be unforgivable if Barack wiis reelection because of lack of support from ¨libertarians¨ towards Romney. A real libertarian should be focused on sending Obama home in november

  • CE||

    Since my vote in California won't send anybody home in November, I'll stand up and be counted for Gary Johnson (or Ron Paul as a write-in vote a week later).

  • Bob in Boston||

    Why is that? You must not be familiar with Romney's voting record. If anything, Romney has been more successful than Obama in attacking some constitutional rights, and has already said he would support most of the things Obama did like continuing the Patriot act and NDAA. The really dumb sheeple who listen to people like Bill O'Reilly or Bill Crystal might believe that Obama is the anti-christ, but I look at voting records, and if you hold Obama and Romney up next to each other, they are *both* ridiculously bad.
    I'm not voting for the lesser of two evils just because the GOP was dumb enough to push the least qualified candidate on the people.

  • Alex the wolf||

    I don´t believe Obama is the antichrist or anything like that, and I also think gay people should have the right to marry a monkey if they want, but Barry wants more and more and more money to DC. Just listen to what he says, all his proposals mean more money and more regulatory power to the federal govt.

  • Proprietist||

    And Romney wants a few pennies less.

    Except for the military-industrial complex, which if you cut the rate of increase even marginally will certainly lead to 9-11 2.0.

  • Kochtopussy||

    So does Willard, though. Look at his record in Massachusetts. He increased spending there at twice the rate of inflation.

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