Rand Paul: 2Libertarian 2Be Electable?

Kevin Williamson--who also wrote about the Ron Paul campaign for National Review--writing at Politico throws some cold water on those excited that Rand Paul seems to be rising in reputation and attention so quickly that it's a safe bet he could actually become president.

Williamson points out:

Paul’s libertarianism is intended to offer a little something for everybody, on the left and right—spending cuts for the Republican base, legal relief for potheads, a presidential pat on the head for gay people. But if he gets serious about substantive reform along these lines, his libertarianism is instead going to offer something to outrage everybody.....

We spend almost all of the federal budget on a handful of programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and defense. So any plausible, politically sustainable campaign to impose some sanity on America’s national finances is going to mean reforming—i.e., cutting—all of those.

How unpopular is that? Solid majorities of Americans oppose cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits and raising taxes to pay for them, even though a larger majority also believes that the cost of those programs will create economic problems. The number of people who think we spend too much on the military hasn’t topped the 50-percent mark since the Vietnam War. Think about George W. Bush’s attempt at Social Security reform, which left him the loneliest man in Washington. Or consider that in 2012, fiscal conservative wonk-emperor Paul Ryan ran for the vice presidency on a campaign that blasted the Obama administration for making Medicare cuts. Which is to say, even the man in Washington most associated with the words “fiscal conservative” knows better than to run as one. 

I think Williamson is right on the big points: American dedication to libertarian principles writ large---life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is great; people should mostly be left alone to manage their own lives as long as they are not hurting others; government is too big and spends too much--tends to shatter when it runs up against any actual shrinking in any government function that they think affects them in any way.

Rand Paul has alternately evaded and embraced the term "libertarian" and can certainly not be expected to enthusiastically advocate every idea about politics anyone in the larger libertarian movement has ever advocated as he runs for president--especially not the anarcho-Rothbardian end, which his father has few problems with although he never self-identifies as anarchist himself. 

Last time I talked to him, Rand Paul was openly pretty weary of being pinned down on extreme questions of applying libertarian principal to specific political questions. Rachel Maddow taught him back in 2010 when it came to free association and private property and civil rights law that that's a losing game. As Slate notes, Rand has announced he no longer wants to answer questions about what his father Ron says, does, or believes. 

But as I wrote in the New York Times 14 months ago, before the current Rand Paul wave began cresting, what he has going for him, if what libertarians believe about the manifest dangers of overreaching and overspending and overborrowing and overinvading government is true, is reality, and the hope that someday, somewhere soon, Americans will realize that merely lowering yearly deficits is not sufficient to quash the dangers of government debt threatening our future.

So it's ultimately too soon to say how big a deal Rand Paul will get to be nationally in a presidential context. But plenty of people seem to be able to consider voting for him for president now, as he polls near the top of the prospective GOP field for 2016. I can imagine, though, that it is easier for media and voters to admire him more as a fresh-air senatorial maverick than to gird up for the sort of wrenching (however necessary) changes in national politics a President Rand Paul would imply.

I have no doubt that right now serious libertarianism will be a hard national sell, even to a Republican Party that in theory should be able to embrace the small-government part. It also seems likely that any liberal/progressive affection for the anti-security state, pro-civil liberties Rand Paul will crash and burn against the wall of his opposition to abortion and government income transfer programs. Paul told me in my New York Times piece of the need for more social tolerance and minority outreach for the GOP, but I think no amount of that will overcome the abortion and income transfer stuff when it comes to winning over Democrat-leaning independents.

That said, a Santorum-like focus on being "socially conservative" is unlikely to be a national winner for the Party at any time moving forward into the 21st century, so there's another good reason--besides reality itself--for some major Party to suck it up and offer something close to real libertarianism.

Then there's foreign policy. Recently, as we face an actual old fashioned Cold War era crisis, Rand Paul has tried to balance between the strongly noninterventionist, America can be seen as an evil empire itself, wing of his father's fan base and a more jingoistic Republican base attitude. In doing so, Paul has managed to both link himself to Reagan, not advocate military action, and still talk vaguely tough against Russia and do no America-blaming.

This hasn't been good enough to keep Rick Santorum--whatever you think or don't think about that guy, he did rack up the second highest number of primary votes for the 2012 GOP race and thus is presumptively "next in line"--from saying Paulite foreign policy is basically a weak, Obamaite disgrace no Republican can countenance, indeed "a very serious threat to our own security."

I think it will be best for Paul's presidential ambitions if the American people are not feeling themselves, America's interests, or even America's vague and overweening sense of international amour propre threatened in 2015-16. Americans don't like war, to be sure--until government and media start telling them it's necessary and they aren't going to have themselves or their sons and daughters drafted to fight it. 

No doubt, how libertarian Rand Paul can get away with being will be a continuous topic of pundit and voter concern between now and the end of next year.

What Paul told me back in January might be worth revisiting in thinking about these issues:

"I've got half the libertarians on the Internet beating up on me for not being pure enough," Paul says, "and the rest of the mainstream beating up on me for being too libertarian. It's a box they put me in."

"But I'm in the business of trying to advance a philosophy and advance an economic program that's better for the country. And I'm also in the business of winning elections and trying to convince people to come in the direction of smaller government and more individual liberty," Paul says. "I sometimes wish for a little more forbearance among the purists, but I'm trying to do the best I can to advance a philosophy and program that is more individual liberty for everyone and is pulling in the direction of what some of the purists might want" even if they "might not see it as pure as they'd like."

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  • Sudden||

    Brian, I don't think the abortion stuff is much of a mover for left-leaning independents.

    It's about the redistributionary income transfers.

  • ||

    "The abortion stuff" is a complete stopper for me. He's stuck in the "fetuses are people, but the women who are creating them inside their own wombs are the chattel property of the nearest dominant male who inseminated her, to be used for his self-aggrandizement by producing little Xtian soldier larvae." imprint.

    Using force or the threat of force to compel a woman to carry an unwanted fetus to full-term and give birth to it is not only slavery, but it opens space for the kind of sociopathic spirit that would override its own Mother's Will.

    Women need to demand acknowledgement that they are the owners of themselves, period.

  • logical_atomist||

    Do you really believe that the people who think that "fetuses are people" all, or even mostly, believe that "women are the chattel property of the nearest dominant male who inseminated her (sic)"? You are right that fetuses aren't persons, but outrageous, insane bigotry against and dishonest claims about the misguided people who think that fetuses are persons just makes it look like they are right. If you give bad reasons for what you believe, it makes it look like you don't have any good ones.

  • Ace Sullivan||

    what kind of cunt gets a third trimester abortion? who are we 'protecting'? the millions of incestuously raped women who waited 7 months to decide on an abortion? how is this such an abstraction - if you want an abortion, get the motherfucker early when reasonable people can disagree (mass of cells? yeah, looks that way); not when there is little reasonable doubt you're killing what looks like to any honest person a regular baby. WTF is this tripe anymore - goddamn we are a stupid people.

  • Paul.||

    his libertarianism is instead going to offer something to outrage everybody.....

    He is technically correct about this.

    So any plausible, politically sustainable campaign to impose some sanity on America’s national finances is going to mean reforming—i.e., cutting—all of those.

    You know, there's SO much more that a libertarian president could do though.

    A libertarian president could, for instance, put a choke chain on the intelligence services like the NSA or the CIA. A libertarian president could propose major reforms of almost every regulatory agency from the BATFE down to the EPA and the NEA.

    The executive could also do a lot in removing or eliminating corporate welfare in the forms of dumping billions into fledgling 'green corporations' (and others) through guaranteed loans and other highly questionable shenanigans that no government should be involved with.

    Would doing that cut spending? Maybe, a little. But it would go a long way towards restoring democracy and rule of law.

    There's also a lot of things a libertarian president could NOT do which represent a major shift from past executives.

  • Sudden||

    Maybe so, but absent significant cuts to the 80% of the federal budget that represents direct transfer payments plus defense (a sort of indirect transfer payment), there will still be massive debt.

  • R C Dean||

    Given a choice between (a) massive debt and an out of control regulatory and national security state and (b) massive debt.

    I'd take (b).

  • Pro Libertate||

    Two steps forward, one step back beats where we are now.

  • Sudden||

    Agreed. But I think we underestimate just how difficult it will be to reform the regulatory agencies. The Civil Service from Yes, Minister looks to act with nearly ruthless deregulating efficiency when contrasted with the bloated leviathan that is the federal bureaucracy.

    I think the one area that the POTUS has significant command is scaling back the national security state, but that may also prove to be one of the most politically difficult as the GOP will have plenty of dissenters and the prog-left will not produce many allies since they can't stand the thought of handing that issue to a libertarian-ish POTUS.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The president can wield quite a bit of power over the agencies through the OMB.

  • SusanM||

    He'd never get away with it - not to any meaningful degree, anyway. The agencies are the sweetest plums in the spoils system and no one - left or right - wants to lose that.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What, Congress is going to act? That's all that could stop him, except for some limits on the "independent" agencies.

  • Brett L||

    Congress acting would still be a plus. At least they'd be retaking the power that they've delegated to these agencies.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I do think they might try to impeach a libertarian president who went all-out right away--you know, pardoning thousands, refusing to enforce all sorts of laws, etc.

  • Brett L||

    For what? Using his powers in a way they don't like?

  • Pro Libertate||

    If both houses agree that whatever the president doing constitutes "high crimes and misdemeanors," who is going to say otherwise? The court has no review power over impeachment proceedings.

    Which is why Obama should be worried if both houses get big GOP majorities.

  • Paul.||

    For what? Using his powers in a way they don't like?

    Yes, exactly.

    *gaggle of press as President Paul heads into Oval office*

    Reporter: Mr. President, Mr. President, how might you describe your upcoming agenda in your first year?

    President Paul: Disruptive.

  • Brandon||

    Who's going to stop them?

  • Paul.||

    refusing to enforce all sorts of laws, etc.

    Obama's doing it.

  • Robert||

    All he has to do is pardon whoever assassinates his opponents.

  • CE||

    How about permanently cutting everyone who was deemed "inessential" during the last shutdown? DC staff pay is one big potential budget savings, that won't affect recipients of any federal largesse (except the bureaucrats themselves.)

  • Brett L||

    I'd like to see him direct executive regulatory agencies to throw out all rules not directly placed on them by statute.

  • R C Dean||

    That's the real soft spot on the regulatory state that a libertarian President could put to use.

    All those regulations are adopted without Congressional action. Sure, a statute may have delegated to the agency the power to write the regs, but that's the point: those regs are all exercises of power by the executive, not Congress.

    The President has the unilateral authority to rewrite or just repeal the regs. If Congress wants them so damn bad, they can put them in a bill and pass it.

  • Paul.||

    Yarp, and this president Paul. even has a plan for doing almost exactly that. Sort of similar to what RC says, in MY administration, I would have all regulatory agencies turned into advisory agencies who write regs, then pass those regs to congress as packages. Congress then gives them an up or down vote.

    This satisfies two issues. One, it allows the advisory agencies to drive the technical aspects of the regulations because--I've been told by anti-democratic team blue people-- Congress lacks the expertise of the people in the agencies.

    Two, it puts the actual passage of the regulations back into the hands of the duly elected representative. They're responsible for the legislation, and it's now part of their voting record.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    We spend almost all of the federal budget on a handful of programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and defense.

    This is what no one wants to talk about, including Rand Paul.

    But we managed to cut $5 billion out of SNAP. (Praise Jebus for the Tea Party!)

  • Sudden||

    We spend almost all of the federal budget on a handful of programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and defense.

    And of course that Medicaid portion is about to grow leaps and bounds thanks to ACA and "bending the cost curve" directly up our rear ends.

  • Cytotoxic||

    But we managed to cut $5 billion out of SNAP. (Praise Jebus for the Tea Party!)

    Indeed, praise the TP. That's 5 billion fewer dollars to be blown, no thanks to Obamatard.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    So, the fact that something was not a tremendously huge cut is a reason to oppose the cut in the first place. That makes absolutely no sense, whatsoever. Par for the course with you.

  • Onlooker||

    Politicians have succeeded in buying off the population by continually expanding the reach and influence of the national govt. Too many are compromised by their vested interest in the continued big spending habits of the govt.

    The only chance is to appeal to the younger generation and hope they stay true to principle, but that won't bring about change any time soon, and it's not likely to happen anyway.

    The whole thing has to come down in a self-imploding ball of flames. Then the people need to decide if they still want to sanction the monopoly of power and violence that is government.

  • Homple||

    There will always be a monopoly of power and violence, but "The People" seldom get to choose the monopolist.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The system will come crashing down. This can't go on. What scares me is the possibility that the welfare state will be replaced by another ugly for of statism, probably nationalistic and of the DEY TRK R JRBS flavor. That's why we need one of our own in power when it happens. Financial gravity will take care of the welfare state while 'our guy' nips new demons in the bud.

  • Tony||

    The US government can't run out of money. You guys need to learn this and then defend your ideas about policies on their own terms. Stop making up childish apocalyptic fantasies and pretending we have no choice but to adopt your proposals.

    If they are worthwhile proposals you wouldn't have to do that, would you?

  • R C Dean||

    The US government can't run out of money.

    Kinda like how Weimar Germany couldn't run out of money, because they could always print more?

  • Tony||

    No, not like that at all. Get back to me when inflation is somewhere substantially above 1.1%.

  • R C Dean||

    So, is it "The US government can't run out of money", or "The US government probably won't run out of money for awhile yet"?

  • Tony||

    As long as the US government exists. Even leaving aside the fact that it can print money at will, it can tax at will too.

  • Cytotoxic||

    it can tax at will too.

    Unless we just evade it or there's less wealth to be taxed. Evasion is not getting harder btw. Your ideas aren't just immoral and impractical, they're obsolete.

  • R C Dean||

    it can tax at will too

    Believe it or not, there are mathematical limits to the government's ability to tax.

    It can't raise more in taxes than the economy is worth.

    The real limit is much lower than that, of course. Nobody really knows what it is, of course, but that doesn't mean it isn't real.

    Regardless of where the limit is, we will hit it unless we run a real balanced budget. As deficits are run, debt grows. As debt grows, debt service grows. Debt service alone can outrun our ability to tax.

  • MJGreen||

    As long as the US government exists. Even leaving aside the fact that it can print money at will, it can tax at will too.

    OK, and so could Weimar Germany. So now we're back at RC Dean's question. Which is it: the US can't, or the US is not currently on that track?

  • Cytotoxic||

    This is Tony being a dipshit retard who can't and won't fathom why the USG can print 'n spend like does (USD reserve status) or what happens when that reserve status ends (cuts that make Canada's cuts of the '90s look mild).

  • tarran||

    Inflation has been above 10% for the last three years, Tonykins

    Most of that newly printed money has gone into bank reserves and not been loaned out, and thanks to the moribund economy, the guys holding it haven't been bidding up prices on basic necessities.

    A significant portion of it has been used to purchase stocks, resulting in the stock market "boom".

  • Tony||

    Inflation is around 1% and the lowest it's been in 10 years. You guys are fixated on a crisis that doesn't exist and won't exist for the foreseeable future. And that's because you need that fake crisis to justify your policy program. Why can't you just defend your program on its merits? Because it has none?

  • Tony||

    (The lowest in 10 years excepting the 2008-2009 period when we dipped into deflation.)

  • tarran||

    The economic ignoramuses reporting on the economy conflate price changes to inflation and deflation.

    Inflation is the growth of the total money supply. It's tricky to calculate (there is a great deal of argument as to what forms of deposits/notes count as money and what do not), but its connection to prices is like that of an the engine RPMs to speed in a car with an automatic transmission.

    Inflation causes prices to go up because the guys that get the new money bid up prices as they use the money to buy stuff. If it sits in bank reserves collecting interest from the Federal Reserve, it's not being used to bid up the price of gas.

    Recessions in a fractional reserve banking system that has generated credit to the breaking point are necessarily deflationary - the bankruptcies destroy credit resulting in a contraction in the total money supply. This contributes to the fall of prices caused by the slowdown in economic activities as bankrupt entities are removed from the pool of people bidding for goods and services.

    Currently the U.S. is experiencing a bout of inflation that is very reminiscent of the roaring 20's. And the Obama admin seems to be following Herber Hoover's disastrous policies of trying to prop up failing, insolvent industries; we have a similar stock market bubble; and economic solons who seem to think that the historical rules no longer are operating.

  • tarran||

    The inflation has so far generated price increases in only a few areas, food, housing near political centers, the stock market, medical costs. Many of the sectors so affected are excluded from CPI calculations because they are deemed volatile or not true consumer goods. Ironically, the volatile consumer goods are volatile because they are very sensitive to the price changes associated with the creation and destruction of new money/credit.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Inflation is around 1%

    Why should I believe this? Not even saying this is wrong, but I'm not going to just trust the 'experts'. Further, as tarran tried to explain to you, the reason inflation is so apparently low is the lack of lending which is due to the moribund economy.

    Why can't you just defend your program on its merits?

    We can and do all the time. That's why you get crushed everytime your amoral pie-hole here. What we're doing here Tony is preparing the ground for taking advantage of the inevitable crisis. Once gravity turns on there's opportunity for
    us to take advantage of. You'll beg for the Bush years.

  • ace_m82||

    If you measure it the way the Fed does, yes. And yet, everyday items are going up by leaps and bounds... You wonder how incomes can go up but discretionary spending goes down, right? But the govt can save all those old people starving in the streets, right?

    When the world stops using the dollar as the reserve currency, then we will eat all our inflation. That will suck.

    I'm defending the policy right now. You just can't stop it with the red herrings.

  • Brandon||

    Do you and Putin's Buttplug compete to see who can be more of a clueless fuckwit?

    http://pointsandfigures.com/20.....ious-food/

  • ace_m82||

    "The US government can't run out of money."

    If technically correct is the best kind of correct, then you are the best debater of all time.

    Yes, the govt can't really run out of money, though they can make that money worthless. I know that inflation is confusing, but it REALLY hurts. Of course, to understand that you'd have to read a history book... or an economics book...

  • Tony||

    I understand that the only risk is too much inflation, but that doesn't appear to be the problem now while we're still trying to recover from and prevent another deflationary crisis.

    This is all a ruse and my only question is whether you realize that or if you buy the bullshit completely. You guys don't like social welfare programs, so you invent fiscal crises as the excuse to cut them. Why can't you just say why you're against the programs and stop it with the nonsense? Afraid you might come across as callous for saying your only economics convictions are about millionaires keeping more of their money so that old people can starve to death?

  • ace_m82||

    "I understand that the only risk is too much inflation"

    Inflation is bad, mkay? Also, there are other problems, such as economic stagnation (what you see today). There is no, and never has been, a deflationary crisis (except one made up in the minds of govt control-freaks).

    I really wish I made up economic crises. They are very real and suck really bad. And yes, I would cut transfers of wealth even if they didn't exist.

    Oh, I want ALL people to keep more of their money, even you! And if you are so evil as to let old people because you didn't feed them (voluntarily), then shame on you!

  • Tony||

    I'm going to ignore your insane bullshit about inflation vs. deflation because I just can't work with it.

    Here's a problem with your "charity and unicorns will solve everything" approach. One, it's never worked before so we can't expect it to in the future. Two, during periods when the poor have it the worst off, everyone else is also having a bad time. So we can count on charity more only when the economy is doing well for everyone, which means there's less need for it. Also, unicorns have yet to be discovered.

  • R C Dean||

    One, it's never worked before so we can't expect it to in the future.

    Private, voluntary charity doesn't have to work perfectly. It just has to work better than mandatory, state-enforced charity (which is what transfer payments are).

  • Cytotoxic||

    Private, voluntary charity doesn't have to work perfectly.

    Contra Tony's fairy-tales, private charity can and has taken care of everyone. Before the War on Poverty wrecked America, there were so many charitable organizations in cities that some local governments tried to cut them out.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I'm going to ignore your insane bullshit about inflation vs. deflation because I just can't work with logically argue against it.

    your "charity and unicorns will solve everything" approach.

    Stop projecting.

    during periods when the poor have it the worst off, everyone else is also having a bad time. So we can count on charity more only when the economy is doing well for everyone, which means there's less need for it.

    So you think the rich don't donate anything during 'the worst times'. You're retarded.

  • ace_m82||

    "it's never worked before so we can't expect it to in the future..."

    If you defined "worked" like you do, then yes. If you define it by "the only people who starve/die are those who choose to", then you're wrong.

    "during periods when the poor have it the worst off, everyone else is also having a bad time"

    Private charity in this country went UP during the Great Depression. Next!

  • Pulseguy||

    "charity and unicorns". How about your government and unicorns will solve everything. What should we do with that?

  • Alien Invader||

    Hats off to Brian for a highly worthwhile topic. We should be having discussions to think, scheme, and strategize about what might actually be possible to improve things.

  • Alien Invader||

    So if Regan ran in the next election, does anybody think he'd win? In today's world?

    I think Rand is not Regan in a thousand ways. But if Regan could still win, then I think Rand could win.

    Whether the GOP will allow him the opportunity -- or whether he comes out strong enough that, like Regan, they simply can't stop him -- is TBD.

  • Alien Invader||

    Reagan, not Regan. Damned spell checkers anyway.

  • Juice||

    I'm making the prediction here and now. Rand Paul will never be POTUS. Here's another one. Rand Paul will never be the Republican nominee for POTUS.

  • Michael Hihn||

    1) Reagan could never get the GOP nomination today. He was aggressively defending gay school teachers, just prior to announcing for 1980. A gay couple slept overnight in his White House. He and Nancy created a foundation to combat AIDS. The Christian Taliban (Falwell, etc) Opposed his election for the second term.

    2) Rand Paul would get slaughtered in the general election because of his extreme social conservatism on abortion and gay marriage, both of which violate the Ninth Amendment. He SPONSORED a bill to ban abortions at conception -- and brags about it on his Senate website. He says gay marriage should be the state level, the-libertarian-10th-amendment-scam which ignores the NINTH Amendment.

    The liberal media is already alarming their readers about Rand on abortion and gay marriage. If he was nominated, the smears would be non-stop. All the left-leaners who'd support him on NSA would be more influenced by abortion and gay marriage stands.

    A REAL libertarian would tap into the "generic" libertarians who have been the voiceless majority for over a quarter century. If we're lucky, Ron and Rand will open the door for Gary Johnson, like Goldwater did for Reagan.

  • Alien Invader||

    I don't know if Rand can win or not, though I think he should. Or else there really is no hope left.

    Sure the GOP will oppose him, and sure the MSM will smear him as best they can. But Reagan faced the same and prevailed. I think Rand could too.

    If Rand is ever going to win, the next election is it. Because Obama has set the stage for him better than anyone or anything else ever could have. Like Carter did for Reagan, and I do think that's a valid comparison.

    I think the MSM is afraid of Rand, because they sense that he could ride into the White House on a wave of popular discontent.

    He may not win. But I think he's got a better shot at it than anybody else on the Republican field at this point.

  • Pulseguy||

    The MSM is more biased now. It is all out war on anyone not in the Democrat fold. I don't recall it being like that 40 years ago.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "Paul told me in my New York Times piece of the need for more social tolerance and minority outreach for the GOP, but I think no amount of that will overcome the abortion and income transfer stuff when it comes to winning over Democrat-leaning independents."

    Probably so. The disillusioned SWPLs and black people will grumble and fuss, and listen with interest to Rand Paul, but when the rubber meets the road, they're going to run back to the Dems, so as to save the country from racism, the enslavement of women, the Kochs, etc.

  • Brett L||

    "I've got half the libertarians on the Internet beating up on me for not being pure enough,"

    Don't worry, Rand, the other half think you're not pure enough, too. They just aren't beating up on you about it. Somedays, I'm not pure enough for my brand of libertarianism.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I certainly wouldn't want to belong to a party which tolerated my impurities.

  • R C Dean||

    Hmm. I've always figured my impurities were what gave me any personality at all.

  • John||

    Everything printed in places like Politico is a complete lie and the total opposite of the truth. So if they are saying "Ron Paul can't win" it is because they believe the exact opposite to be true.

  • Pulseguy||

    Good point.

  • Tony||

    So RP doesn't want to answer questions about his policy beliefs or his father. He wants reporters to come to the conclusion that he's in favor of liberty and leave it at that.

  • John||

    Ron Paul is totally responsible for anything his father did. Hillary in contrast should never even be questioned about making her career by covering up for her husbands endless numbers of misdeeds.

    Really, "but his father is the RACIST" is all you Tony. So you should roll the dice and give it a shot. God knows it has to work better than making a rational argument because you and your ilk ran out of those sometime in the mid 70s, if you ever had any to begin with.

  • Tony||

    I'm more interested in the bit about how he's whining that he's being asked to define his policy beliefs. I don't think he should have to answer for his father. I also think a free press gets to ask him whatever it wants to.

  • John||

    Paul seems to be further defining his political beliefs every day. I don't see how they are a secret.

  • Tony||

    What happens when a reporter asks him about his beliefs on the Civil Rights Act? Presidential elections are a people mill.

  • Cytotoxic||

    He'll probably say something accurate and soothing like 'changing the CRA isn't a priority for me' and go back to pillorying his opponent over the ACA and the shitty economy which will probably being going to hell in a year or two.

  • Tony||

    But don't get too excited over the prospect of your country going to shit.

    Someday you'll have to describe just what it's like to be in a constant state of wishing for catastrophe so you're proven right about obscure things.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Someday you'll have to describe just what it's like to be in a constant state of wishing for catastrophe so you're proven right about obscure things.

    It doesn't matter 'what it's like' or what my motivations are. A is A. Reality is on our side. We win you lose.

  • Tony||

    Uh huh.

  • Juice||

    We win you lose.

    Hmm, yeah, not the presidency.

  • Pulseguy||

    I think he's been more open about his policy beliefs than pretty much anyone since Reagan.

    Your guy, Obama, is without question the least open person I've ever seen in politics. No one can say what he actually stands for, other than him being a 'supah-stah'.

    His stance on gay marriage was the weirdest statement I've read on the subject. I'm paraphrasing, but it was something like, 'I've come to the conclusion it is best for me to come out in favor of gay marriage'. What does that mean?

  • R C Dean||

    So RP doesn't want to answer questions about his policy beliefs

    Ah, so that's why he's not giving speeches or interviews.

    You know who else didn't want to answer questions?

  • Paul.||

    DON'T FEED THE TROLLS!

    God, now I sound like Episiarch!

  • CE||

    Somehow I think Rand Paul will be smart enough to figure this out. His budget proposals so far have been incremental and sane, chopping government spending slowly to get DC back to a balanced budget without raising taxes. Meanwhile he would go after the government overreach that conservatives and liberals alike have rightly complained about. Somehow I don't think abortion is a major presidential issue any more, he won't make it one, and more Americans are pro-life anyway.

  • Kevin Bjonrson||

    Rand Paul is OK as a senator. Hard to say if he would be a good president. Maybe an honest person can never be president so we might excuse his vague, double-meaning blatherings on foreign policy. But at least the POTUS should have good judgment. Like the good sense not to have nostalgic affection for the Confederacy.

    That's right, Rand Paul is a neo-Confederate, like his father. He's tied to his father's white nationalist base. And that's putting it mildly, Ron Paul has ties to neo-nazis and his hostility toward Israel does not come from libertarianism.

    Rand Paul will never be president, because his associations taint him with minorities, particularly blacks. The GOP needs to take some of those votes from the Democrat party, in order to survive as a national party (due to demographic trends).

  • PoliTecs||

    Libertarianism = Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde!

    There is no sane foreign policy, pulling out of areas of the world creates instability! We have INTERESTS despite what these clowns say. And right now, we are seeing what Libers would do, allow Russia to reestablish their dangerous super power status by taking back Ukraine!

    What is happening in the Ukraine now under this president is exactly what would happen with a Liber!

    Open drug policies... that's worked out well for Europe hasn't it! Some of you are going to try to say it has but look at ALL the data, ALL the facts... their SOCIALISTS! The people have far less self governance and personal freedoms because they're DOPES!

    Last, Libers = Anarchy! Their form of limited government is NOTHING as they claim "original intent" our founders wanted. They reject "limited BUT POWERFUL central government".

    Ron and Rand BOTH are typical Party HACKS! In fact, rand doesn't know what the hell he is - a republican or a Liber - WHAT IS HE? He lays both when convenient. That is exactly what he claims he can't stand, two party systems are corrupt as he says, while playing the same game.

    Conservatism on the contrary is the ONLY true form of government because it relies on neither party or agenda. It is a way of life, period! If an R or a D or an L acts in a Conservative manor then that is Constitutionalism as intended by the founding.

  • Michael Hihn||

    Total nonsense. Anarcho-libertarians are roughly 15%, Most are minarchists, minimal government.

  • Vampire||

    Seriously? Thomas Jefferson said "I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men will be trusted to govern themselves without a master". The goal was not to lessen freedom and liberty, but to have all individuals be free. Not be subjected to the force, and thievery of government. You fly a false flag of liberty, and are more of a danger to freedom and liberty than the liberals are. At least individuals that are liberal (even unknowingly) promote their policies which require force to implement. They too go on to promote such nonsense because they are shielded from consequences. You feed people bullshit, and wave the dont tread on me flag, while promoting policies antithetical to the natural rights of freedom and liberty.

    You sit home and advocate war, while my brothers and sisters lose their limbs, and lives. If they are fortunate enough to make it home, many are scarred for life. Why don't you look up the singing revolution. Not one US soldier was put on the ground, yet they managed to free themselves. The US has intervened 70+ damned times since WW2. Why in the hell aren't these places bastions of freedom, for which folk like you claim we are fighting for? We aren't even free here, so how can others learn to be free?

  • uhclem||

    Too statist to even say the word "libertarian" in the same sentence.

    The lessor of two evils...

  • Vampire||

    Tony. "No, not like that at all. Get back to me when inflation is somewhere substantially above 1.1%."

    Come on dude. A pre 1965 quarter was 90 percent silver. So lets do some math. 20.36 (current price of silver) x.0321507466 (32.15 grams per Troy ounce) x 6.25 (grams the quarter weighs) x .90 (quarter contained 90% silver) = $3.68.

    With the silver and its purchasing power in one quarter alone, you could buy a galling of gas. So lets take 4 quarters which equal a dollar. 3.68 x 4 = 14.72. So every dollar would equate to 14.72 in silver.. Now, lets take 30,000 dollars and multiply that by 14.72. Hmm, $441,847. Seems the federal reserve and government throughout the years have robbed a hell of a lot of purchasing power from individuals. So don't feed us this nonsense that there is no inflation. So on a 30,000 dollar income, it's equivalent in silver can purchase a New York home (nice one family, or 2 depending in the neighborhood). ..........

  • Vampire||

    It used to be, the man could go to work, raise 8 kids, purchase a home, and even have a car while the lady of the house could have stayed home. If she chose to work or start a business, that would have been even more income. Try that today on one income. If things were so much better, why isn't the retirement age going lower and lower. With the marvels of government, we should be retiring by 30 to 40. Folks on fixed incomes wouldn't have to find jobs because their income isn't making it due to the rise in prices of various items, and so on. Sadly, the reality and results of government on both sides (and the fed res and special interests that surround them) have been disastrous.

  • 11bravo||

    " It used to be, the man could go to work, raise 8 kids, purchase a home, and even have a car while the lady of the house could have stayed home. If she chose to work or start a business, that would have been even more income".

    If he had a college education, or at least some college. Everyone would be very surprised at how it used to be. We all go by OUR experience so our view is tainted. Besides, childhood is fun even if you are poor.
    I could count on my fingers how many times our family of seven went to a restaurant to eat from 1955 - 1970.

  • Robert||

    The only question is which authoritarian to balance his ticket with.

  • Neoconwatch||

    Kevin Williamson joined the neocons. That is how he got his National Review online gig. He writes around the narratives and agenda that his new masters put out. Virtually everyone has a price it seems. Williamson doesn't really believe that Rand Paul cannot win, and the neocons do not believe it either, or they wouldn't have bothered to start propagandizing against him. It costs time, resources, and potentially some goodwill from conservatives to run a propaganda campaign. They won't start one unless they feel it is necessary. Rand Paul is a threat.

  • logical_atomist||

    It's too bad that Paul isn't more willing to be obviously "pure", but it's not like libertarians have much of an alternative. Neither he nor his father is an ideal advocate for liberty, but they are both so much better than any other national political figure that it is virtually a difference in kind rather than degree. Plus it seems pretty likely that Paul is running as a kind of stealth candidate for libertarianism --- downplaying some of his actual views so that he can make some progress in an environment that is still pervaded by a lot of hostile anti-libertarian propaganda.

  • Neoconwatch||

    Incidentally, the reason why Rand Paul can win is a certain unique combination of demographics and ideological developments. The young people of today increasingly make up a greater portion of the electorate, and they are different - not only more libertarian but also more morally relativistic than people in past generations, so they do not immediately take offense to new ideas. Whereas older people might get mad at the idea of ending wealth redistribution, most younger people are unusually open to well-reasoned and logical arguments, like why the entitlements should be sunsetted. They would go along with it. Most of them already believe that the entitlement programs will not be able to support them by the time they retire anyway, so they have no stake in the entitlement programs and no incentive to support those programs. Many of them also have a lot of anger at older people for taking their money, especially in the current high unemployment environment, and the key concept here is *guilt.* Guilt is a powerful weapon. If confronted, older people will not be able to oppose younger people on moral grounds and few would be willing to try. If younger people wanted to go in a certain direction, older people would not really oppose it, provided they are not required to take on substantial financial burden. That is Rand Paul's opening.

  • marshaul||

    When the fuck did Reason decide to shill full-time for the GOP?

    And is anybody else getting sick of this shit?

    Dudes. The GOP will never be our vehicle. Get over it.

  • 11bravo||

    Dudes! We will never have a vehicle - we will never win shit when it comes to elections. Our idea of how the country should work are completely unacceptable to the average Joe. Our literal interpretations of liberty contradict themselves over and over, so we come off as whack-a-doodles every time.

  • ConstitutionFirst||

    Money, Power, Societal Control.
    These are the levers of power.
    One or more of these motivations, in any combination, make the world go 'round.
    You either figure out how to manipulate them, or be content to go along for the ride.
    I say stick to your principles.
    I'm a TEA Party man, and that's my flag.

  • marshaul||

    Oh, and also, Rand Paul is the crappiest "libertarian" I've seen in awhile.

    If he's Reason's idea of "2libertarian" for anything, then, well, let's just say I won't be renewing my subscription any time soon.

  • 11bravo||

    On top of Rand Paul's not being electable; is the fact that his father's kookiness will be wrapped around his neck like a dead stinking chicken. The left, and the press are just salivating over him getting the nomination.

    The other thing is...what makes him any more qualified than Obama to be president? An eye doctor is not needed at this point in time.

    Maybe in the next 2 years we can get rid of the libertarian label that means we are ALL a bunch of anarchists at heart, when in actuality we just want the damn federal government out of our lives.

  • Pulseguy||

    Canada has larger leftish tendencies than does the US. And, no party in Canada will admit they will run a deficit. That is because we hit our debt wall 35 years ago and we almost slipped into second world status as a result. Now, even our far left loony Federal parties pretend they won't run a deficit.

    In a few years it will be obvious to even the dumbest amongst you, yes, I mean even the New York Times, that running big deficits is killing your prosperity.

    It won't be that hard to dismantle the welfare state. But, it can't happen until the average person realizes how bad it is for the nation.

    What then is left? Abortion? A non-issue. No one thinks it will go back to where it was. The post 20 week cutoff will likely be where it ends up. Around there you'll actually get a majority in favour. Gay stuff? A non-issue.

    The NSA? Anyone pro NSA will go down in flames. No one likes it. The Dem and Repub talking heads can say what they want, but the rank and file of both parties hate this.

    Anybody who says 'I shut down the wars, and I end the drone strikes, and I end the NSA corruption day one' is a contender for the Presidency, because in fact that is where the average guy Dem and Repub and Independent stands on those issues. Not everyone, but the majority.

    Rand could win.

  • Pulseguy||

    Whether he can win the Republican nomination...that is another story. I don't know. Unless polls show him way out in front I don't see him winning.

    A guy like Santorum, should he win, hands the presidency to Hilary. Social conservatism is a non-starter.

  • ConstitutionFirst||

    The Republicans have become Democrats.
    The Democrats have become Progressive-Marxists.
    So what makes Libertarians so bad by contrast and comparison?
    Frankly, unless this country gets back to it's roots, there will be no America to save.
    I don't know about the rest of you, but I plan on voting for Rand and others of like-mind.

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