Rand Paul: How Scary is He?


Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic has a perspicacious look at how a couple of prominent modern-liberal writers or institutions have contemplated the terrors of the rise of Rand Paul.

new republic

In Jonathan Chait's case, Chait in New York magazine takes Rand Paul's disdain for the excesses of pure democracy in which a voting class can override core individual rights–an idea built into this nation's very Republican structure and reasonably uncontroversial–as derived clearly from the scary Ayn Rand. The most sinister expression of this belief, which Chait paints as a sinister ideology that Rand Paul has been trying to conceal–but not from Chait's eagle eye?

Ayn Rand: "I do not believe that a majority can vote a man's life, or property, or freedom away from him." 

Remember: Chait thinks that that idea is a nightmare, and he expects his readers to agree. Now that's scary.

Friedersdorf goes on to analyze this week's New Republic cover profile of Rand Paul by Julia Ioffe, and notes that she is both gliding over some of the areas in which Rand Paul is more willing to bend to political reality than his more radical libertarian father Ron Paul (Rand is seemingly satisfied with keeping Social Security and Medicaid around for the long haul, despite mostly believing in keeping the government to its explicit constitutional limits) and for using the word "isolationist" to describe him, misleadingly. (A guy as for free trade and immigration is no isolationist–just not as eager to give away money and wage wars overseas as most politicians of both parties.)

Most importantly, Ioffe misleads her readers–particularly the presumably Democratic-liberal leaning readers of the New Republic–by not stressing Paul's most significant characteristic: he's about the best there is in Washington on a full civil liberties package of the due process, limiting executive power, ameliorating the Drug War, limiting indefinite detentions with no trial, don't wage war unilaterally, variety.

Now, while I don't expect a more successful Rand Paul–say, one who is a front runner in the 2016 presidential race–to stay as good on his libertarian background as his father did in his campaign, if he did, his consistency would indeed be frightening to the mass of readers of Chait and Ioffe, even if Friedersdorf sees a lot to admire. A consistent libertarianism is indeed still a frightening thing to the political and media establishment of both parties.

Matt Welch on the New Republic profile of Rand Paul (a profile in which I am quoted).