Rand Paul

Is Rand Paul and Libertarianism the GOP's Future? Nick Gillespie on Hardball


Last night, I appeared on MSNBC's Hardball with guest host Michael Smerconish of SiriusXM"s POTUS Channel 124 and Republican strategist John Feehery. The topic was whether Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and libertarianism are the best way forward for the GOP.

About 7 minutes. Take a look.

And check out Smerconish on Twitter and online here. A lifelong Republican, he famously left the GOP in 2010, frustrated that it had become in his words, "a party of exclusion and litmus tests, dominated on social issues by the religious right, with zero discernible outreach by the national party to anyone who doesn't fit neatly within its parameters." Which isn't to say he's a Democrat, either. Instead, Smerconish, whose radio program is genuinely engaging and conversational in a way that is increasingly rare, arguably represents the best of the non-allied center of American politics. I don't always agree with him, but if you are interested in knowing what sensible centrists think—and what sorts of issues and arguments they find compelling—he's a great resource to turn to.


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  1. It’s a trap!

  2. Do you like screaming and interrupting people with irrelevant questions? You might have a future in the exciting pundit show industry.

    1. Or you could be less vile and just become a game show host.

      1. It’s “Know Your Boo” with Tom Haverford!

        1. Nando, you’re the worst sockpuppet ever.

  3. with zero discernible outreach by the national party to anyone who doesn’t fit neatly within its parameters.

    I’ve never understood this.

    If you’re running a party, you put your priciples and platform out there and you say, ‘anyone who agrees, join up’–you don’t go around altering your priciples and platform into things you don’t believe to get people to join.

    You WANT people to fit inside your parameters–that’s how you win.

    Trying to be everything to everybody while only mouthing alliegence to any priciples get you McCain, Romney and Rove.

    1. The point of a political party is to win elections. Everything else is secondary to that. If that means running empty suits whose only qualifications are good hair and the ability to repeat transparent lies with a straight face, then that’s what you do.

      1. And then, what’s the point of having the party?

        1. Team Purple.

          1. TEAM! TEAM! TEAM!

        2. Leave the people their…”traditions”.

          1. I am entertained

          1. Winning what? If winning doesn’t mean you can implement policies that are in accord with your principles, then why bother?

            1. POWER is WINNING! What the fuck do principles have to do with anything? Do you actually think these people have principles? If so, I have some property in the Everglades you might be interested in, and I have a steal on this bridge in NYC.

              1. Dude, I always wanted my own bridge. How much!? How big is it!?

                Merry xmas btw.

                1. Just send me a check for all your money. You can pick up the bridge on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

                  I’d wish you Merry Xmas as well but it isn’t Xmas yet. Instead, Merry Time to Get Drunk and Stoned Day and Eat a Lot of Crappy Food Day!

                  1. Epi that’s, like, every day for you.

                    1. Pretty much. Merry Every Day, Hugh!

                      (loads bong)

              2. Sorry, but it doesn’t much sound like all that much power to me. You’ve decided you’ll let other people decide what you say, how you’ll look, what you think…I guess if you can’t run your own life, maybe it’s a comfort to run others’.

        3. Something about a boot and a human face, I think…

        4. You get to appoint your high priests in goofy robes who make the final rules for everyone.

    2. “If you’re running a party, you put your priciples and platform out there and you say, ‘anyone who agrees, join up'”

      Agreed but with an addition: You explain to people how your principles will lead to prosperity. And you do so by contrasting them to the alternatives; outside your parameters.

    3. If you’re running a party, you put your principles and platform out there and you say, ‘anyone who agrees, join up’–you don’t go around altering your principles and platform into things you don’t believe to get people to join.

      Which made libertarians so powerful.

      1. Which made libertarians so powerful.

        I blame society. People need to re-learn how to mind their own fucking business instead of sticking their nose up my ass.

      2. Also, to paraphrase Bastiat… We’ve made our laws into a system of plunder. Instead of abolishing the laws that rob us of our life and liberty, we’ve chosen to retaliate through the same broken system.

        So yeah, it’s more laws and more regulations, all the way down.

        1. YEP!!

    4. If you’re running a party, you put your priciples and platform out there and you say, ‘anyone who agrees, join up’–you don’t go around altering your priciples and platform into things you don’t believe to get people to join…

      Unless your principles are outdated and the graying old codgers who still agree with them are slowly dying off. Then it might make a small amount of sense to be open to new ideas with proven strong appeal to younger voters.

      1. And here we have it–change to fit current fads–abandon priciple in favors of trendy causes–all to appeal to ‘young’ voters.

        Because only ‘codgers’ believe in priciples.

        You are taking one thing for another. New ideas are fine at any time–so long as they strengthen and enrich your priciples–when these new ideas are actually in line with the priciples of your opposition accepting them only undermines you.

        Consider that the Republican establishment, the ‘leaders’ of the GOP are routinely said to come from the RINO wing of the party.

        RINOs are what happens when you’ve altered your priciples so much that your stance is nearly indistinguishable from that of your opposition–and does it ‘appeal’ to younger voters as advertised?

        No. If the ‘younger voters’ you’re going for are so leftist that they need the right to adopt leftist tropes before they’ll even look at them, they’re not going to vote for something that leans left when they can vote for something that screams left.

  4. It’s Smerconish. He doesn’t mean what he says. He just things to get attention. Thinking too hard about his words wouldn’t fulfill his goals.

  5. Nick; seriously, Hardball?

    Points for going into hostile territory, but good god, what a paradise of puerility.

    1. I was actually amazed at just how intelligent the conversation was, especially given the network it took place on.

      Most likely that’s because it was Smerconish instead of Chris Matthews, who completely turns my stomach.

  6. Libertarians may eventually take over the GOP with the help of the Teabaggers.

    The neocons and the more statist leaning socons will just flip party and become Dems, the official authoritarian party of the United States.

    1. “…and the more statist leaning socons…”

      Good catch on that one. I don’t think it’s beyond the pale for a libertarian-leaning GOP to keep a large swath of socons. A smaller government would likely lead to a more robust civil society and would probably be a boon for traditional values.

      1. I agree completely. Now how do you get this message across the divide?

        1. Wait for the divided to die off.

  7. Rand Paul is NOT a Libertarian.
    “My opponents call me a libertarian but I want to assure you that I am pro-life.” His answer to Sarah Palin during KY GOP Senate Primary.
    “I do not apologize for believing there is too much government involvement in the private lives of Americans. Trying to portray me or my father as not pro-life–or saying I want to legalize heroin, or prostitution, or making other outlandish claims– are smears Republican establishment types have always attempted. This race would be no different. One could make the argument that if sincerity is measured by proposed legislation, my dad is arguably the most pro-life member of the House.”
    Forcing your religious views on all citizens is NOT Libertarian. Paul believes a fetus is a citizen at conception.

    1. He’s certainly no true Kentuckian!

    2. Just when does someone become a citizen? At birth? If so, what is the magic that happens during the time the former 9-month-old fetus passes through the vaginal canal?

      If conception, then if a child was conceived during a honeymoon in Paris, but born in New York, then what right does that child have to American citizenship?

      1. If so, what is the magic that happens during the time the former 9-month-old fetus passes through the vaginal canal?


        1. Dear Tarran,

          A former fetus passing through some woman’s vaginal canal is called PAIN!

      2. You just blew my mind! Think of all the presidencies for which during we’ll have to vacate the record and laws passed. Please be FDR, please be FDR.

        1. FDR was a homunculus created by dark, infernal rituals conducted within the sulfurous spawning pools beneath the Illuminati/Freemason lodges in Hyde Park.

          1. Ever see the Unearthed America episode featuring the ritualistic murder cave found in Pennsylvania?

          2. Dear Heroic Mulatto,

            Hi there a–hole. How are you today Anal Breath? FDR (like him or not) will be in many history books for generations to come, to study and read. What legacy will you leave when you die s–t for brains? Have a nice day dimwit.


              1. Dear daius404,

                Here is what you can do for your anal fixation. Stick your index finger up your Hershey Highway, lick it, and pretend it is a candy bar. How is that for anal?

                1. On the one hand I like the new bot’s formality in correspondence; on the other hand I’m a little off-put by the blatant scatological references without so much as an accompanying picture to masturbate to. Skynet hasn’t gotten self-aware enough yet it appears.

                  1. hamilton,

                    Go eat lots and lots of camel dung.

            2. You know who else will be in many history books for generations to come? Yeah, that’s right…

              1. K M It sure as hell won’t be you dick wad.

            3. FDR (like him or not) will be in many history books for generations to come, to study and read. What legacy will you leave when you die s–t for brains?

              I will leave a rich legacy never having fucked Eleanor Roosevelt while in a wheelchair. After trauma on that scale, indeed there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

              1. The Zeitgeist,

                Have Happy holidays you piece of shit.

            4. FDR (like him or not) will be in many history books for generations to come, to study and read.

              Be sure to keep in the parts about the Japanese internment camps and prolonging the Great Depression by 10 years.

    3. Modern libertarianism has the Non Aggression Principle at its core. Pro-life libertarians believe abortion to be violence committed against a fetus, not even really arguable at the latest stage, and within that group are those who believe that the fetus is deserving of status as soon as it is a life form. I don’t agree with that but to say that it invalidates their status as libertarians is not correct.

      1. You know, Killaz, I was going to write a response like that, but what’s the point? I had a feeling it would be like explaining the ahistoricity of Muhammad to a member of Jemaah Islamiyah.

        It would just end in a lot of yelling, tears, and beheading.

      2. But TEH CHILDRUNZ!!!11


      3. Personally, I take the view that since we define human life as ending when brain activity stops, it makes sense to define it as beginning when brain activity starts. With all due respect to the begins-at-conception folks, you’re simply not going to persuade me that a single-celled organism is a human being. It may have the potential to eventually become one, but it ain’t there yet.

        If someone really wants to take the view that life begins at conception, I’m not terribly interested in arguing the point. It’s fundamentally an arbitrary decision where you choose to draw that line. In my view, the most sensible place to draw it is at brain activity, but I recognize that cases can be made for other points as well.

        1. The Japanese say that pregnancy lasts 10 months – because they start counting from the previous ovulation. So in their view the life form begins when the mother produces the egg.

          They still do abortions and have no more than the usual emotional qualms about the potential which the fetus may have had – but they don’t consider abortion anything like murder.

          1. Even the majority of the “abortion is murder” crowd don’t believe it is murder.

            More like misdemeanor manslaughter and the woman goes free.

    4. Not all personal beliefs translate into public policy. My guess is that he would be satisfied with a nudge in the direction of supporting mechanisms that support reducing the need for abortion. It’s hard to imagine that’s a bad idea for any party or belief system.

    5. I don’t understand this litmus test. If an unborn person IS a person, then it is hardly libertarian to defend the taking of that person’s life. One can be staunchly libertarian but disagree with YOU about whether we are talking about the liberty of ONE person, or two. The problem of defining person-hood at either end of the age or mental capacity spectrum is difficult.

  8. if you are interested in knowing what sensible centrists think – and what sorts of issues and arguments they find compelling


    1. “For the children!”

  9. And then, what’s the point of having the party?

    “Well, you should have come to the first party, we didn’t get home
    till around four in the morning. I was blind for three days.”

  10. The President of the United States of America should NEVER be associated with any political party, or ideological agenda whatsoever. He/She should run on the issues as He/she sees them. He/she should serve a term of six (6) years only, so the American people do not have to go through the torture circus every four years. He/she should also be elected directly by the American people without some inane convention.
    Of course none of this will probably ever happen, but it should.

    As it is, the country is under the grip of a lot of little silly (and dangerous in some cases) fringe parties, and the two dominant parties which are really one party posing as two parties in order to create the illusion that we have some sort of Democratic Constitutional Republic, which of course we don’t. The idea is to create a permanent underclass ruled over by a minority elite with incredible wealth eventually using the total police and military force, and sweetened with various brands of b s religion. None of this needs to come to pass, but it is certainly headed in that direction.

    1. The President of the United States of America should NEVER be associated with any political party, or ideological agenda whatsoever.

      …. so how? We grow them in a vat? Import a martian potentate? Build a robot?

      1. Just elect Nixon again, but with a shiny new body!

        1. Flabby, pasty skin, riddled with phlebitis – a good Republican body.

          1. So … Chris Christie it is then, huh?

            1. Flabby? He balloons that skin.

            2. Only if you gave the abulatory adipose tumor a republican brain. It certainly doesn’t have one now.

        2. Just elect Nixon again, but with a shiny new body!

          OK, but only if he meets us hippies halfway!

      2. Anyone desiring to be President must go through at least 30 hours of beatings while Washington’s Farewell Address is read to them, over and over.

      3. Reboot the DC operating system.

        1. ^^THIS!

      4. Rexall-bot for 2016! 😀

      5. Dear Tarran

        Read my comment again you moron. What did I say? Do you have reading comprehension problems? By the way moron, we have had at least one President that suggested this. So that means it is possible. This means that all candidates run on their own ticket representing themselves and their candidacy. Is the message here beginning to get through that thick skull of your moron? Quit posting your bowel movements in print, and suggest a better path, or shut your damn pie hole!

        1. My god, you are a rude and ignorant jackass that adds nothing to the debate. You clearly know nothing of libertarianism, free markets, or even the US Constitution. Please refrain from posting until you have at least a passing acquaintance with the afore mentioned concepts.

          1. Hey there K M,

            Make me stop posting. Fuck you!

            1. If you were On The Road To Womandalay you might see things differently.

          1. SusanM,

            Very civilized. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you also.

    2. The problem with the direct election bit is NYC and CA have a disproportionate number of ppl compared to the rest of the US. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live with the government being chosen by those two places.

      Also what HM suggested.

    3. The President of the United States of America should NEVER be associated with any political party, or ideological agenda whatsoever. He/She should run on the issues as He/she sees them. He/she should serve a term of six (6) years only, so the American people do not have to go through the torture circus every four years. He/she should also be elected directly by the American people without some inane convention.
      Of course none of this will probably ever happen, but it should.

      Yeah totally! And unicorn farts should harvested to fuel our cars!

      1. Unicorn breaths would insure a greater supply.

    4. Needz a few more [BRACKETS], Herc.

    5. You speak the truth, but I am already too depressed by the usual holiday glitter to consternate over your wise words?.

      1. OTRTM’s 1st paragraph is delusional. But he has correctly described our situation in par 2, unfortunately.

        Rand Paul may not be perfect, but he is the best option available on the national scene. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the very good.

  11. Host was a complete douche. Nick has almost mastered the art of taking hostile worded questions and framing them around the topic he wants to talk about though. Good job Nick.

    1. Well, the host did mention Nick had been on his radio program before, so I imagine he’s had some practice with he and other shrill statist pundits.

  12. All ribbing aside Nick, I think you did a really good job. Your (rarely-touted) book was really positive and optimistic, it’s good to hear that flavor of message on the airwaves.

  13. Libertarianism will not catch on with the average US voter. The knee-jerk reaction will always be whats in it for me and libertarians do a horrible job of presenting the case and breaking it down for the unwashed.

    1. ideology has no appeal to political pragmatists

    2. The “what’s in it for me” crowd is busy angling for government freebies. I find it mind-boggling when a proggie shouts “gimme gimme” and then “you libertarians are just out for yourself”.

  14. “Up next, is it time to stop the nonstop flood of impersonal holiday greeting cards that we all seem to get at this time of year. This is Hardball, THE place for politics.”

    Ka. Boom.

  15. I’m not sure if I’m a Libertarian, but I suspect that I have a strong Libertarian streak. I just don’t feel that I should be potentially put on a “Watch List” for purchasing a #13 rubber stopper, or a boiling flask over 1000 ml.
    Mr. Gillespie, You are the most intelligent, and reasonable person I have seen on the “tubes” since “I don’t remember”. After seeing your performance on Hardball, you have cemented a voluntary relationship between myself, and your online publication. Congats. You have a new fan. =)

    1. Welcome!

    2. Has Nick been reduced to sockpuppeting up his own “fan”?

      1. I’m sure Nick can speak for himself, and I’m completely confident that I can speak for myself. =) I am also confident that if I wished to make several “Sock Puppet Accounts” on this site I would be more than capable. If you would like to see some entertaining sock puppets watch this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTc3PsW5ghQ

  16. Smerconish was one of the most listenable radio hosts in Phila. He seems fixated on thinking centerists are “social liberals and fiscal conservatives” and says they should form their own third party. Sounds libertarian, right? Trouble is, and Smerconish never seemed to get it, is that most centerists are some mixture of social conservatives and fiscal liberals (at least when it comes to punishing those who live differently and at demanding more free stuff.)

  17. Welcome. I hope Santa is bringing you your monocle and top hat for Xmas.

    1. I’m not sure if you are serious or not, because the lack of emoticons used on this board. However I also wish you a “Merry Christmas”. Also an inexpensive, and effective digital Microscope would be very effective in the hands of an amature scientist. Which a Libertarian ideology supports.=)

      1. We like to poke fun of the stereotype that libertarians are mostly rich people who hate the poor. Any references to monocles or top hats (or orphans, diamond mines) are likely to be satirical.

        1. We are also sarcastic, mean, profane and only occasionally nice. Welcome, but bring a thick skin and make sure and have your sarcasm meter regularly calibrated.

          1. We really aren’t that nice. But newcomers are welcome!

            A word of advice: a few commenters are probably worth keeping a close eye on. I won’t name names, but their handles rhyme with “Shorty” and “Esqueezeiarch”.

      2. You could always use some orphans for lab tasks. Running mazes, etc.

        * monocles, orphans, and top hats are running jokes here.

    2. Don’t tell the children what I got them!

      1. New picks and shovels?

  18. If Rick Santorum proposed a balanced budget within 10 years, would we proclaim more “proof” of a libertarian era? Or would we reject his extreme social conservatism? And if we’d reject Santorum, why would we revere Ron and Rand Paul, who are Rick Santorum with spending cuts? Likewise Cruze and Amash.

    Rand is not a batty as his father on social issues, but he would ban abortion at conception, thus (like his dad) trashing the Ninth Amendment. “Sanctity of Life” is a prominent page on his Senate website that would demolish him with the young (and many others)


    Since the majority of Americans are “generic” libertarians, fiscally conservative and socially tolerant, why would we pander to the extreme socons who are such a minority?

    I was there at the very beginning, when we knew the difference between being pro-liberty versus anti-gubmint. We’ve been the (generic) majority for over 30 years. Will we EVER take control of our own destiny? And when did paleolibertarianism replace libertarianism?

    1. why don’t more conservatives take the position of pro-choice and give their reason as wanting more liberals babies dead?

      conservatives arent gonna slaughter their unborn and liberals are destroying the social fabric. seems like killing 2 birds with 1 stone.

      1. I make that point all the time. The cons don’t seem to get it.

  19. Read his position statement that you linked. He will not likely seek to ban abortion. He will end federal funding for it. If you want one for you or yours go ahead and pay for it yourself. How is that a bad idea? Of course, there is evidence to suggest that the reduction in crime is directly related to the increased availability of abortion, but I am willing to seek other means to achieve our personal safety. In any case, can you propose a fiscal and social policy candidate that will appeal to everyone? Of course not. It’s not possible. It’s about choosing the best person to lead our (once) great country. In my opinion Rand offers us someone as a presidential candidate that we haven’t had in a long time.

    1. Can you read? How about thinking? This is what you somehow missed. Emphasis added.

      I introduced S. 583, the Life at Conception Act on March 14, 2013. This bill would extend the Constitutional protection of life to the unborn from the time of conception.

      It is unconscionable that government would facilitate the taking of innocent life. I have stated many times that I will always support legislation that would end abortion or lead us in the direction of ending abortion.

      1. Can we trust Dont’tTreadOnMe to give an honest reading of the Ninth Amendment? We’ll see.

      2. Not to mention the police state that he would build to monitor pregnant women so that readily available chemical abortofacients could not be used.

        Aborto-freaks are the worst kind of statists.

        1. Fair enough, I agree that the federal government has no role to play in abortion, and I missed Rand Paul’s statement regarding his position to invade this space. That said, it is my belief that he will not likely advance this cause should he be elected president for political expediency. Furthermore, I don’t think abortion rights or whatever are the most critical issue for our nation at this juncture.

          1. Doesn’t matter how critical it is. Abortion rights would see him tagged as a rightwing wacko — in two dozen tv ads per day. There’s also the larger issue of trashing the Ninth Amendment as his father does.

            Barry Goldwater famously said that the Moral Majority was the biggest threat to his party. They’ve already caused massive damage. Rand Paul would be the last nail in the coffin, and likely drag down the never-healthy libertarian movement also.

            We’d have a so-called libertarian who denies the entire concept of unalienable rights. How can that possibly have a positive outcome?

            1. I would say that he extends the concept of unalienable rights beyond where you think it begins.

              Of course, saying it like that, in a way that actually reflects what’s going on, doesn’t allow you to use the word ‘deny’ and, in fact, makes your stance into the limiting one.

              I personally find the issue self-correcting. Pro-choicers are editing themselves from the picture, it’s just a matter of time.

  20. Advise taken. Advise well received. 😀 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uh5W0JA-jo0

  21. uptil I saw the draft for $8854, I accept …that…my brother was like realie earning money in their spare time online.. there brothers friend haz done this 4 only about seven months and recently paid for the depts on there home and bought a gorgeous volvo. see page

  22. Nick has no clue on what isolationism is! He thinks someone who wants to remove troops from other countries and practice peaceful commerce with them is an isolationist.
    He is why I rarely read articles by Reason these days. He wishes like hell he was really a libertarian.
    Nick libertarianism starts with the N.A.P., not a live and let live principle.
    Stop playing both sides. Go spend a summer at the Mises Institute or read some Rothbard and Spooner.

  23. I remember Rand Paul from when he was a little kid on his dad’s annual Christmas card, and was hoping for some good discussion based on the article’s title.

    But this thread had me really depressed until I came upon Maggie..’s post about the brothers friend who bought a gorgeous volvo!

    Now I have great hope for the future of both Libertarianism and our Country.

    (and Volvo)

  24. Yikes. No wonder MSNBC’s ratings are so low. What kind of discussion was that? A host who robotically interrupts his guests in order to keep discussion limited to answering his couched questions. And follow up discussion..what’s that? Seems like bald Wolf Blitzer just wants to keep the bland train going and move on to questions he clearly had written down prior to air. People bash Fox News all the time, but I’m convinced it’s the last remotely watchable news network. At least their hosts shout you down like human beings.

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