Brian Doherty in The New York Times On Rand Paul and the Need for Hardcore Libertarianism in Presidential Politics


I appear in this morning's New York Times discussing the extent and depth of how Rand Paul has argued as a libertarian as a presidential candidate, and why libertarians crave, and America needs, a more hardcore libertarian champion in presidential politics.

The conclusion:

Libertarianism's relevance to the problems that bedevil the Republican Party, and America, goes beyond spending. You can't solve our foreign policy problems until you understand that the military's purpose is to defend lives and property on the homeland — not fight international villainy. You can't solve the immigration problem unless you understand that people, like goods and services, should be allowed maximum freedom of movement. (Mr. Paul, like other Republicans, instead wants to strengthen the borders.) You can't make criminal justice truly just until you limit the reasons government fines and imprisons us to true crimes against persons or property, not minor "quality of life" infractions or life choices (like drug use) that the government simply disapproves of…..

Do libertarian ideals sound heady, even ridiculous, to many Americans? Sure. That's precisely why we need a candidate who will articulate them. Who else will challenge both parties' complacent assumptions — and their shared devotion to ever-increasing spending on problems that exceed the proper scope of government? Since Ronald Reagan, Republicans have been as bad as Democrats in defining what government is for — what it can and can't rightly do.

Calling for some limits on government intrusion here, and some spending cuts there, isn't enough. America needs a political champion willing to stretch beyond the merely practical. It's a tricky position for anyone running for president to try to move the majority in your direction. But if liberty is your highest value, it's essential.

I first hipped New York Times readers to the libertarian wave in the GOP and Rand Paul's role in it back in February 2013.