Rand Paul

A Reason Rand Paul Reader

Highlights from a libertarian magazine's coverage of the most libertarian Republican running for president in 2016


Low bar, sure. |||

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) will officially announce today what he has been beavering away at for more than two years: his candidacy for president. Son of campus heartthrob and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul (1988 Libertarian Party, 2008 and 2012 Republican Party), Rand owes his political career to his father, but has always sought a different path: winning statewide office instead of gerrymandered districts, seeking in his presidential run actual victory instead of noble, galvanizing defeat.

Reason, the leading journalistic explorer and defender of "Free Minds and Free Markets," has been covering Rand Paul extensively since before he gained office, starting with W. James Antle, III's "The Son Also Rises" from the May 2010 issue of the print magazine, and continuing on to this week, with Brian Doherty's examination of how Rand's campaign is haunted by Ron, Jacob Sullum's lament that Paul's provocative defense of judicial activism in January has been watered down to predicable conservative judge-bashing in April, and Nick Gillespie's commentary that even a less-libertarianish Paul is still far more interesting than the rest of the 2016 GOP field.

The following is a curated tour through Reason's coverage of Rand Paul, designed to provide intellectual ammunition to friend, foe, and fence-sitter alike.


In addition to James Antle's May 2010 campaign profile, there was this March 2011 interview with the new senator by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch:

That led to this June 2011 cover story, "The Most Interesting in Man in the Senate." A formulation that would later be emulated by a cover piece in Time.

In February 2013, after the elder Paul's retirement, Senior Editor Brian Doherty wrote a New York Times piece asking what's next for libertarianism in politics, with a lot of the answer centering around Rand. In May 2013 we curated a Twitter Q&A/chat-thingy with the senator. In November 2013 I wrote a cover profile of Paul for Newsmax which you cannot read easily, but from which you can see a revealing snippet of foreign-policy-related Q&A. In July 2014, Gillespie got Paul to say that Republicans will only win national elections again if they become more "live and let live":

And in the January 2015 issue of the magazine, I probed the presidential aspirant's views on U.S. foreign policy and interventionism.

You can search through Reason's Rand Paul topic page for a list of pieces in reverse chronological order, or use the search engine to mine entire rich subcategories of coverage, whether it's the longstanding unease many Ron Paul fans have had about his son, Rand's extensive attempts to roll back criminal justice overreach, or his "Hipster Outreach Mofo Party Plan."

But like his father (though in much different ways in terms of strategy and some content), the biggest challenge and opportunity Rand Paul presents in the 2016 race is his less interventionist views on U.S. foreign policy and the security apparat around it. So here in chronological order is a sampling of Reason's coverage of the conflict between Rand Paul and a considerably more hawkish GOP:

"National Security Republicans Go Gunning for Senate Front-Runner Rand Paul," March 17, 2010.

"McCain Slams Rand Paul for 'Isolationism,'" Nov. 16, 2010.

"Rand Paul: He Might Endorse Romney, But He Doesn't Endorse His Foreign Policy," June 19, 2012.

"Rand Paul's RNC Speech and the Future of the Republican Party," Aug. 30, 2012:

"American Exceptionalism Routs Paul-Family Foreign Policy," Aug. 30, 2012.

"Romney Supporter Rand Paul Bashes Romney's Foreign Policy Speech," Oct. 10, 2012.

"Rand Paul and John McCain: Odd Couple New to Senate Foreign Relations Committee," Jan. 4, 2013.

"Rand Paul Mainstreams Non-Interventionism," Feb. 5, 2013.

"3 Takeaways From Rand Paul's #StandWithRand #Filibuster About Drone Strikes," March 7, 2013.

"Did Rand Paul Change the Republican Party for the Better in 36 Hours?" March 8, 2013.

"CPAC: Rand Paul, Libertarians Rising," March 15, 2013:

"Neocons Are Quietly Freaking Out Over Rand Paul's Increasing Popularity," June 25, 2013.

"Wacko Birds vs. Angry Birds: This Time it's War," Sept. 3, 2013.

"Non-Interventionist Republicans Like Rand Paul May Help More Than Hurt the GOP," Sept. 11, 2013.

"Rand Paul: 'There's a big transition in the Republican Party, but also in the public,'" Sept. 13, 2013.

"Interventionists Attempt to Isolate Rand Paul Over Iran Deal," Nov. 25, 2013.

"Rand Paul Pulls Rhetorical Judo on Foreign Policy Foes, Calling Them 'Isolationist,'" Jan. 16, 2014

"Rick Perry Is at Least the 7th GOP Presidential Contender to Showily Attack Frontrunner Rand Paul's Foreign Policy," July 14, 2014.

"Rand Paul vs. the Hawks," Sept. 3, 2014.

"Meet the Anti-Rand-Paul Protest Candidates," Feb. 10, 2015.

"CPAC's Foreign Policy Split: Old Hawks and Young Doves," Feb. 28, 2015:

As ever, stay tuned to this space for more Rand Paul news.

NEXT: Trade in Your Old 'Assault Weapon' For a New One, Says Rep. Rosa DeLauro

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  1. Should he win, he will be slightly less disappointing than the other candidates.

  2. Oh great… Libertarians for Republicans.

    Rand is not a viable candidate. He is declaring candidacy so that he can raise political funds for the Party. He will scrape money from would-be Libertarians and SiliconValley that would otherwise not be available to the DemocratsandRepublicans.

    The DemocratsandRepublicans have been trading power back and forth, with winks and nods, since I was knee high to Eisenhower. They are not my friends, not my representatives, and they are not my Party. There’s not enough real distance between the “two parties” to merit being called two parties.

    A vote for Rand, or worse, sending him campaign funds, is just cementing the Party’s hold on US politics.

    In 2016, someone will win the Presidency, and that person, whomever it is, will then turn 180 degrees from their positions and platforms, and rule like any Party member… It will not be Rand. He can’t raise enough funds to be the fund raiser in chief… and he’s more valuable to the DemocratsandRepublicans as just one more fund raising agent.

    I cannot understand why anyone would be excited at this political theater… no more than I can understand why anyone would vote for the Party.

    1. Vote for the man, not the letter next to his name.

      If you can’t trust the man to fight the letter, then he isn’t worth voting for.

      If you can trust the man to fight the letter, then it doesn’t matter what the letter is.

    2. “I’m so edgy and hip. Look at my EDGE.” /shorter screwtheparty

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  4. Ain’t that gRand.

  5. Sullum’s article about Rand’s judicial stance is highly misleading and he should be suspended without pay for it.

  6. Haters should read the “Issues” on his website and then get wrecked.

    -Flat tax and eliminate capital gains and estate. Who knows if he can do it but who else is even suggesting it?
    -Supports a balanced budget amendment. Again, show me who else even says this.
    -Audit the fed. ‘Nuff said.
    -Repeal Obamacare.
    -Do something with Social Security (yeah, I’d like to see it die, but at least someone is addressing the unfunded liabilities)
    -Cut regulations
    -Congressional approval for military action
    -2A is a go
    -Just read the stuff about criminal justice reform

    But he doesn’t have perfect rhetoric on gay marriage and is pro-life so no true Scotsman.

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