Rand Paul

Can Rand Paul Keep Commanding the Ron Paul Army?


David Freelander at Daily Beast has a piece on whether or not Rand Paul can count on keeping his dad's 2 million or so GOP-primary-voting supporters, and more importantly his many hundreds of activist foot soldiers, with many quotes from me (author of the book Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.)

Some excerpts:

conversations with several of the Ron Paul foot soldiers who trooped to Iowa and New Hampshire in the winters of 2007 and 2011 reveal a deep skepticism that the son can be a proper heir to what has become known as the liberty movement.

"Some folks expect there to be an automatic rollover in support from his father, and I don't think that is going to be the case," said Joel Kurtinitis, who was Ron Paul's state director in Iowa in 2012 and since has served as an official in the state GOP. "It's not automatic. We feel like automatic loyalty has cost us—one Clinton is just like the last Clinton; one Bush is just like the next Bush. We are going to watch people."

Freelander than points out that a lack of fearlessness–a sense that their guy is speaking his truth and doesn't care what any establishment things–is something some Ron fans detect, and dislike, in Rand. While undoubtedly those harcore diehards are a small percentage of the 2 million voters, their activist enthusiasm is, as Freelander writes, needed–" If he loses them or sees their enthusiasm dip, he quickly becomes just another senator scrambling to distinguish himself from the pack."

The article goes on to quote me pretty extensively on how Rand seems willing to lose some of his father's most ardent supporters and while generally pretty anti-expansionist-foreign-policy in his votes and stances, isn't willing to be vocally anti-empire and actively accuse the U.S. of perfidious behavior overseas.

Freelander ends with a quote from me on a point I enjoy repeating when given the chance:

"We know that something like 40 to 50 percent of Americans don't vote," said Doherty. "Ron Paul created his vote. His people were not previously Republicans. They were disaffected, anti-government activists who hated the political process. He drew them from those Americans who don't vote, and a lot of them are going to go back to not voting."

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  1. Maybe you guys missed this, but Paul never won anything other than a House seat. And frankly, at least a few of his supporters found that to be a feature. If Rand wants to be anything more than a voice in the wilderness, he is going to have to be willing to lose some of his father’s supporters.

  2. “Can Rand Paul Keep Commanding the Ron Paul Army?”

    Not even Ron Paul “commands” the Ron Paul Army. We are individualists.

    As far as Rand Paul is concerned, I appreciate is Senate Speech about drones – that was important. But he often seems too willing to “compromise” for political expediency. One of the things I admire about Ron Paul is his willingness to go against the grain and stand up for what he believes even when it is unpopular.

    1. Baby steps. Promoting libertarianism is a process of educating people. You jump off the deep end, calling for legalization of all drugs or not interfering in middle eastern policy, without first educating the public as to WHY that’s the right thing, and you get labeled a kook.

      Rand’s worst enemy right now is the libertarian who wants it all immediately.

      1. Those libertarians are even crazier given Rand’s CRA troubles at MSNBC.

      2. This is sadly so true.

  3. As someone who was very heavily involved in 2008, less so in 2012 I can say quite honestly I hope that quite of few of Ron’s supporters leave. Rand does not need a repeat of the truthers or others who have their primary goals the advancement and promulgation of conspiracy theories.

    1. Excellent point.

  4. I’d support Rand only if some of those nutcases who shill Ron leave. I don’t otherwise want to be associated with them. I have a distinct feeling that I’m not alone on this.

  5. Ron Paul created his vote. His people were not previously Republicans.


    1. Registered independent for 30+ years. Registered republican in 2007 to caucus for Ron. Maintaining a republican registration to caucus for Rand. When he falls by the wayside, I’ll go back to being an independent.

    2. I’ve voted Libertarian in every election, and had never voted in a GOP primary until 2008, when I voted for Paul. Did it again in 2012.

  6. The problem is, Rand’s more middle-of-the-road, more compromised, massage your message for specific crowds approach has not gained him anything, at all. His political record is just like his dad. I do not recall any bill or amendment of his passing.

    Even the effectiveness of voting against bad legislation alone is questionable without using that as a means for something else. Since his political effectiveness is no better than Ron, despite some difference in ideology and a much different approach, maybe he should embrace his dad’s fearless approach and use his position as a bully pulpit instead. For example, Justin Amash uses his seat as a tool in this manner by posting the reasoning behind every vote he makes.

    1. He’s won a statewide election, which is far more than his father was able to manage. He also has spearheaded a group of libertarian leaning conservatives in the Senate, gotten some concessions on issues that are of importance to conservatives (i.e., filibuster and IIRC marginal changes to drug laws), and appears to be leading a genuine faction within the Republican party of some influence.

      We will see just how influential this faction really is when he is back in power and if Presidential or gubernatorial material comes from this faction, but so far he has accomplished far more than his father ever did (and made less of an ass of himself in the process, as well).

      1. I’ll give you his coalition and being able to reach some colleagues. However, there have been no changes to drug laws yet. His previous effort at hemp legalization also did not gain traction.

        His Justice Safety Valve act (S.619) which aims to reform mandatory minimums under certain conditions, though not abolish it, has not passed committee to be presented for voting yet. There is also an equivalent in the House (HR. 1695) in the same state.

        1. He’s been in the SENATE since 2010. His dad only got into the HOUSE way back in…1980s was it? And achieved little but funnelling pork into his district.

  7. Ron Paul is a libertarian. Rand Paul is not a libertarian. He’s a conservative with an occasional libertarian thought. The difference between those two positions is galactic in magnitude.

    I like many of the things Rand Paul does. I think he is capable of fearlessness and significant risk-taking to make a point. But, he’s also politically ambitious, which makes him unlikely to adopt a truly libertarian philosophy.

    1. Case in point.

    2. If we’re splitting hairs, Ron Paul is really more a conservative or constitutionalist. He focused on rules and structures – the Constitution, federalism, sovereignty, etc. – rather than human freedom for its own sake. To me that makes him much more of a conservative than a libertarian.

      His emphasis on immigration was relentlessly state-based, speaking of citizenship and nationality like these things aren’t arbitrary mistakes of history. His emphasis on foreign policy was also state-based, that each country should rule itself and stay within its borders but act to protect its own citizens. And he saw one of the highest political goals as federalism, the right of states to set their own rules.

      Everything about his ideology focused first on the sovereignty of smaller units of government, but not on the supremacy of individuals first and foremost. This was reflected in a lot of his arguments and reactions to policies. He could’ve argued that a small foreign policy is better for humanitarian reasons, because war kills, but his primary argument was to focus on the prerogative of states to control their own borders. Relentlessly state-based. Strikes me as much more constitutionalist and federalist, not a primarily libertarian.

      Again, that’s if we’re splitting hairs. Broadly speaking he was in the liberty movement. That’s really enough for me to root for somebody.

      1. Yep. You make a good point. Ron Paul is much more the federalist than the libertarian. On that point I stand corrected. I still think he was more principled than Rand is currently.

  8. Don’t forget that Ron’s people basically took over the state organization in Iowa. So Ron’s army includes the foot soldiers and the generals, but nothing in between.

    1. They took over Minnesota as well in 2012 and took control of a number of local and congressional districts. However most of them were promptly ousted at the 2013 conventions after it became clear that they had no intention of doing anything other than showing up to vote for Ron Paul.

  9. Rand seems willing to lose some of his father’s most ardent supporters and while generally pretty anti-expansionist-foreign-policy in his votes and stances, isn’t willing to be vocally anti-empire and actively accuse the U.S. of perfidious behavior overseas.

    I can’t imagine why, I mean that worked out so well for his father. /sarc

  10. Shorter version: Rand wants to be electable and doesn’t share his Dad’s insane positions ex NAFTA = NAU, 9/11 = blowback. Some angry Paultards get upset, threaten to leave, or do leave and Rand only benefits from their absence.

    1. Ron Paul was knowingly unelectable. That earns a certain credibility. Politicians want to rule you and they try to beguile you; a politician who doesn’t want to rule you and doesn’t really try to convince is therefore appealing. Since Rand Paul actually wants to win something meaningful, some people will of course be suspicious.

  11. Willingness to agitate and alienate the majority of voters, donors, interests, and office holders attracted a substantial contingent of disaffecteds and contrarians to Ron Paul. Rand Paul is explicitly trying to make liberty more palatable and mainstream, by compromising and repackaging it. Rand Paul cannot succeed in his goal by simply adding to Ron Paul’s base; he has to alienate some of those people by necessity.

    A big portion of those people like the purity, the ideological and the rebellion of a long-shot or even a hopeless cause. Rand Paul is not about a romantic last stand. So it’s inevitable that he attracts a different audience. People don’t just engage in politics because of policy or ideology; a lot of it is attitude and posturing. Rand Paul has a different attitude and posture. It’s more a question of how many people he’ll lose, since losing some of them is unavoidable.

  12. Is the principle of non-aggression really that hard to grasp? Rand is libertarianish about some things, but for some reason, just like all the dems and all the reps, he does not seem to oppose coercion IN PRINCIPLE – which is utterly fundamental to the libertarian way of thinking. All we need and all I want in a candidate is someone who opposes coercion and the initiation of force. Is it really that tough to find someone who doesn’t believe some people have the right to dictate to other people how they should live their lives?

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