Election 2016

Rand Paul vs. The Libertarian Moment

Does the Kentucky senator's lackluster presidential campaign mean that nobody supports "Free Minds and Free Markets"?

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Daily Beast

So Rand Paul managed to qualify—barelyfor the grownup's table at tonight's Republican presidential-candidate debate. That's better than getting kicked down to the undercard, of course, like Mike Huckabee, but it still raises questions, not just for Kentucky senator but for the libertarian movement with which he's associated.

As his campaign wheezes along, critics of libertarianism on both the right and the left are exulting in Paul's weak (or as Donald Trump might say it: weak!) showing and proclaiming not just that he's done, but so is libertarianism's impact on contemporary America. "The False Rise and Fall of Rand Paul," reads the headline of an October 20 Politico feature, "He was supposed to embody a new libertarian moment. But there never was one."

I think it's a monumental–and intentional–mistake to conflate Paul's electoral fortunes with the persistence of what in 2008 Matt Welch and I dubbed  "the Libertarian Moment," or "comfort with and demand for increasingly individualized and personalized options and experiences in every aspect of our lives." The Libertarian Moment already has had an effect on politics (think pot legalization, gay marriage, work-licensing reform), but it's a profoundly pre-political dynamic that hardly hinges on whether a particular candidate (or party) goes big or goes home. Trying to pin the failure of a broad-based cultural and commercial shift by tying it to one person is best understood as a defense mechanism by folks deeply invested in perpetuating the played-out politics of left versus right, Democrat versus Republican, liberal versus conservative. Critics don't want to have to deal with the tectonic shifts taking place in American culture any more than Hillary Clinton wants to have to deal with Uber or any GOP presidential candidate wants to deal with the overwhelming sentiment favoring some sort of pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants.

Which isn't to scant the fizzle that is the Paul campaign. Just last February, Paul won his third straight presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and a year ago Time made him its cover boy, calling him "The Most Interesting Man in Politics." For most of his time in the Senate, he's pulled favorable press not just from Reason and other libertarian-friendly outlets but The New York Times, MSNBC, the ACLU, and even Code Pink for his outspoken opposition against military intervention in Syria and Libya, President Obama's kill list, and bulk collection of phone metadata by the NSA. It's helped, too, that he's floated ideas about legalizing pot and letting the states decide gay marriage. Hell, he even occasionally had good things to say about immigrants, which set him apart. His willingness to engage minority audiences that most Republicans ignore (except when vilifying them) earned him props even or especially from critics who found his stances in favor of the Second Amendment, pro-life legislation, and massively reduced federal spending puzzling or downright disturbing. But still it seemed that—finally!–here was a different type of politician, one who wasn't just a central-casting cranky conservative in the way Republicans always seem to be!

That all seems like ancient history now. Paul's popularity has flatlined in the low single digits among likely Republican primary voters. What happened? Obviously, the big story in this presidential cycle is the emergence of Donald Trump as something more potent than fodder for late-night TV. What was expected to be a brief and embarassing flash in the pan has become a campaign that has dominated the political news cycle for the past six months or more. Yet two of Paul's Senate colleagues, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, have also climbed in the polls in a way that Paul has not, so it's not just Trump sucking all the oxygen out of the room.

I'd argue that, for starters, the GOP electorate en masse is clearly not ready to channel anything resembling hardcore libertarianism. You can see that simply by the hasty retreat the party made on its pledge to defund the Export-Import Bank. When Kevin McCarthy became the new Republican  majority leader in 2014, he said his first order of business was killing the bank, which provides loan guarantees and more to foreign purchasers of U.S. goods produced by Boeing, General Electric, and other barely-getting-by corporate behemoths. Yes, Ex-Im's charter lapsed briefly for the first time since it was founded in the Depression, but it's back to cronyism as usual.

Then there are questions about defense spending and overseas intervention. A dozen years into the "War on Terror" and in the wake of two major failed wars, even Republicans were starting to come around to the view that constantly increasing defense spending was not going to make us safer or wealthier. Clearly, the fact that Rand Paul was the only candidate of either party who was clearly saying that was one of the reasons he stood out and was "unusual" in a good way. But public opinion shifted in summer 2014 from a majority of Americans agreeing we do "too much" to help solve world problems to a doubling of the percentage who think do "too little." Part of that was driven by the rise of ISIS, especially after the videotaped beheading of a freelance American journalist in August 2014 followed by another in September.

Almost immediately after those events, Paul started talking about getting involved in Iraq and Syria to take on ISIS in some limited way, which disheartened libertarians without convincing traditional Republicans that he too was really hawkish enough to be his party's standard-bearer. On a series of things, he kept coming across like the sixth or seventh most conservative GOP presidential wannabe rather than the only libertarian-leaning one. In the wake of the Chattanooga shooting he called for exactly the sort of profiling program that he had earlier branded as unwarranted. He called for increasing defense spending but said the move was different than what Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio were doing because he called for spending cuts elsewhere. He denounced "Sanctuary Cities" just like all the other Republicans, opposed the Iran deal, called for an end to refugees from Syria and a bunch of other countries. All in all, he started sounding more and more like everyone else on the GOP stage and less and less like a breath of fresh air.

As longtime Paul hater David Frum wrote when the Iran deal was in the news, "Paul will either find himself isolated with the old Ron Paul constituency — or he'll have to find some nimble way to jump to the 'anti' side of the Iran deal… If he opts for the latter approach, however, he becomes just another Republican voice among many competing to voice their opposition, and one less powerful and credible than, for example, Ted Cruz will be."

There's a lot of truth to that analysis and things have basically played out according to the second script. But it didn't have to be that way. The smarter move for Paul would have been to stick to his non-interventionist guns in the wake of ISIS's attacks on American freelancers in the Middle East and all the rest. National hysteria aside, the idea that such acts, however disturbing and barbaric, should be enough to plunge the United States back into a part of the world we'd just left after a decade of failed occupation is ridiculous. Especially a completely unclear set of U.S. goals, exit strategies, you name it. The same goes with the Iran deal, which is far from perfect, but is also not the appeasement ploy that hawks insist, either. But Paul didn't articulate why a non-interventionist foreign policy still made sense, or attempt to allay American anxieties and fears about terrorism here and abroad. Instead, he moved with the herd of more hawkish Republicans and with less believability.

It's possible that Paul will show some life in tonight's debate. After all, all eyes are on Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as "realistic" heirs to Donald Trump's lead, which no one quite believes can really last. Virtually all of Paul's strongest moments in the debates have come when he's been at his most libertarian, such as back in September when he championed drug policy and criminal justice reforms. Whether or not the GOP writ large is ready for a libertarian candidate, it's his "libertarianish" sensibility that brought him first to the Senate and then to the top of polls less than a year ago. He needs to be selling that constantly and consistently, even if it means that he's not going to be the nominee this go-around or maybe ever. He was more right than he seems to belive now when he called his party "stale and moss-covered" back in 2013. He needs to bring his party along on that rather than go along with his party.

So what about the rest of the country? Assuming nothing changes for Paul's popularity in the presidential campaign? Does that mean that "the new libertarian moment" he was supposed to "embody" never existed?

Hardly. There is no question that the country is in the grip of a war hysteria and that's never been good for libertarianism generally. Republicans and Democrats alike are talking about bombing more, putting more boots on the ground, battening down the hatches, you name it. The only difference is in degree, not kind. Perhaps for different reasons, but Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders agree nonetheless that we need to stop the Mexicans from advancing north. Hillary Clinton has a record more hawkish than many of the Republican candidates. Unlike Ted Cruz, she's actually served in the president's cabinet when he was "carpet-bombing" foreign countries (it never quite works out as planned, does it?).

Yet the effect of ISIS and the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Paris attacks and the horrific violence of San Bernardino will not chill Americans' skepticism toward government or undermine belief in "free minds and free markets" for very long. Indeed, they have not even done so in the current moment. Even as terrorism has risen to the top of our national fear list, a record-low percentage of Americans have confidence the government can keep them safe from terrorism. Both parties reveal themselves to be shallowly partisan in the face of tragedies. Democrats want to increase gun control, Republicans want to increase border control. Each, in other words, is using current events to push for goals that have nothing to do with terrorism (and each, in its way, is ready to toss due process to the devil if it means they can achieve their goals).

Outside of national-security issues, nobody is turning away from an embrace of marriage equality or pot legalization (which will be on the ballot in a dozen or more states next November). Nobody is pretending that the dismantling of the nation's failed and expensive traditional public school system via charters, vouchers, and other forms of choice is going to be reversed any time soon. For all the professional Republican contempt for illegal immigrants, two-thirds of Americans (and half of all Republicans!) favor a path to legal status for them. The only two people in America who have utter contempt for Uber and the sharing economy are Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

This is still the Libertarian Moment and people are still demanding that their personal lives, their work lives, and their cultural lives become more fluid, dynamic, and individualized. We recognize that, as Matt Welch and I wrote in The Declaration of Independents, that politics is a lagging indicator of change in America and politics will be the last sector of our lives to be revolutionized by the same forces that have made our lives so much better.

But it's coming. Millennials are now the largest generation in these United States and their electoral clout will only grow as baby boomers start dying off. Growing up in a time of failed wars and an economy made sluggish by an endless procession of political interventions, millennials have understandably soured on government fixes and certainly government surveillace of their lives. The latest poll from Harvard's Institute of Politics finds that hey are not doctrinaire libertarians by any measure, but even as they believe government should play a role in helping the poorest and weakest among us, they're not so naive as to expect it to help them very much. Fully 25 percent of millennials call themselves independent while only 9 percent call themselves "strong" Republicans and 17 percent call themselves "strong" Democrats.

More important, fully 50 percent agree with the old Reagan line that "government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem." Only 16 percent disagree. They overwhelmingly believe that voluntary community action and business will improve their quality of life more than government action. They are making the world they want to live in, and it's one that will rely less and less on the government to enforce a specific set of moral values, a single identity for what it means to be American, or a particular mandate for this or that way to do business.

Rand Paul might yet still be the change agent for libertarianism in partisan politics. His faltering presidential campaign doesn't erase the energy and enthusiasm he's ginned up since coming to Washington only a few years ago. But whether he's the person who does that—much less whether he wins the 2016 GOP presidential nod—is less important than most people understand.

NEXT: LAUSD Says Threats Were Electronic, GOP Debate Tonight, More Harry Potter: P.M. Links

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  1. If you set a 3% (or 4%) bar for the main debate, Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Carson and Bush are at the main event. That leaves Paul, Christie, Fiorina, Huckabee and Kasich at the kids’ table with a 2% bar. Graham, Pataki and Santorum would be left out completely which, really, is the right choice. A 5 person debate would give all of the contestants candidates more time and you might even see a real debate.

  2. #Cruz or lose…

    1. Cruz is the “liberty” candidate. Fox News says he’s a dangerous isolationist who threatens the capabilities of our hero intelligence agencies. They’ve begun to treat Cruz like he was Rand’s old man. I think that can be interpreted as an endorsement for libertarians.

      1. I could live with a Cruz presidency. He might even be surprisingly good once in office. Hard to say.

      2. Too bad he’s not running for dictator. He may say pro-liberty things, but he’s shown no ability to win other politicians to his side, which is going to be necessary to roll back statism. It’s fairly amazing how much he’s despised by his own party members in the senate, even those who agree with him on most issues (Rand Paul, Mike Lee for example).

        1. Given how bad the republican congress is, that might not be the worst thing. I would rather have someone fail at doing the right thing than succeed at doing the wrong thing.

          No more.

        2. To be fair to the man I doubt I would vote for, Cruz made the (2014?) list of most effective and efficient Senators – as in getting legislation passed.

        3. But he is exactly what we need in the guy with veto power, IMO. If anybody who is electable is willing to just sit on his hands and say “No, Fuck You, cut spending”, it’s him.

          1. But is he the president America deserves, or the president America needs, or………oh never mind.

          2. Thats a good point, Em. And for a change of pace, we’ll see the media singing new song. Instead of “the republicans in congress shutting down the Gov” it’ll be “the Republican Pres is shutting down the Gov.” Well, not that different, I guess.

            Thats another plus for Cruz-along with being stubborn, he can debate and handle criticism, so he’d be on point when that “but why do you want to shut down the government again?” question is asked for the 10th time that day. And doesn’t have a pathological need to be loved by crowds of strangers-as many have noted, his 99 fellow US Senators have many who routinely treat him very disrespectfully, let alone most of the media.

  3. The smarter move for Paul would have been to stick to his non-interventionist guns in the wake of ISIS’s attacks on American freelancers in the Middle East and all the rest.

    And that’s about where I stopped reading. I see Nick’s advice regarding ISIS and Iran is as dogmatic as ever and his political advice is as worthless as ever. Paul’s campaign sucks but I am sure it is better off than it would be if Nick were driving it.

    Get over it Nick: people aren’t interested in a foreign policy viewpoint based on ‘Iraq 2003-2007 was a disaster so no more anything!’. Least of Rand: he has always been a realist in foreign policy. Noninterventionist Rand was, thankfully, a fever on your part.

    1. Get over yourself, illiterate monkey. His point is that when Paul abandoned his unique “isolationist” policy, he jumped into a crowded pool and lost what separated him from the crowd. If his previous supporters had wanted to support any of the chicken hawks, they would have done so.

      1. Rand was never a non-interventionist, even before he was elected. He started to distance himself from his father’s foreign policy positions immediately upon winning the primary in 2010, if not before.

        1. The father learned to put on a Repub hat to get elected, but his loyal followers never stopped following him. The son grew up seeing his entrepreneurial Pappy profit from several businesses as well as his electoral success as a titular Repub. Said son grew into the Repub facade with a Libertarian core, or one of the many Repubs with lots of Libertarian leanings. Only he can say, unless some unauthorized biographer digs deeply into the man.
          Only those followers of his dad who stuck with junior, and some of his own loyal peeps really thought he had a chance. He’s like Christie in that way. Both had one or more national star moments, and bought into the dream of making it to the white house. Many who read Reason know Rand well, and know that no more than Dan is he going to get enough national votes in this mix of socialism, corrupt crony capitalism, devout religiosity, eager warmongering, earnest and honest entrepreneurialism, and so much more. There’s just too much in that mix that doesn’t jibe with Libertarianism.

    2. PEACENAZIS!!!!!1!1!

  4. Politician acts like politician. Film at 11. Somebody wake me when this isn’t a guarantee. I assume I’ll be sleeping longer than Rip Van Winkle.

  5. More important, fully 50 percent agree with the old Reagan line that “government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.” Only 16 percent disagree. They overwhelmingly believe that voluntary community action and business will improve their quality of life more than government action. They are making the world they want to live in, and it’s one that will rely less and less on the government to enforce a specific set of moral values, a single identity for what it means to be American, or a particular mandate for this or that way to do business.

    I don’t think so. I’ll be impressed on this point when a substantial portion agree that hate speech laws and laws inhibiting the freedom of commerce and association are immoral and never justifiable.

    As it is I can’t imagine we’ll ever get rid of public accommodation laws or have a general public intelligent enough to grasp the distinction between tolerating bigotry and supporting it. Until then the young generation absolutely wants government to impose a moral code upon all Americans.

    1. Until then the young generation absolutely wants government to impose a moral code upon all Americans.

      This is about right. Moral codes evolve and morph, but the desire of people to force others to live the ‘right’ way continues on. The current right way may include gay marriage but it also includes hate speech laws and taxation at the end of a gun barrel.

  6. I think it’s a monumental–and intentional–mistake to conflate Paul’s electoral fortunes with the persistence of what in 2008 Matt Welch and I dubbed “the Libertarian Moment,” or “comfort with and demand for increasingly individualized and personalized options and experiences in every aspect of our lives.”

    When I see the CFRs plateau or even God forbid shrink I will believe that we’re on the preface of the great Libertarian moment.

      1. Code of Federal Regulations

      2. Council on Foreign Relations, poser.

      3. You’ll learn about it in high school.

  7. This is still the Libertarian Moment and people are still demanding that their personal lives, their work lives, and their cultural lives become more fluid, dynamic, and individualized. We recognize that, as Matt Welch and I wrote in The Declaration of Independents, that politics is a lagging indicator of change in America and politics will be the last sector of our lives to be revolutionized by the same forces that have made our lives so much better.

    Nope, Sorry Nick. I have it on good authority that 1) even a single bad law or unjust verdict disproves the Libertarian Moment, and 2) you have never said anything right, including your own name.

    1. We only criticize Nick because we love him and want him to improve. To get people to improve we must relentlessly harangue and nit-pick. It’s just pure love.

      1. Well piss off then 🙂

  8. “When Kevin McCarthy became the new Republican majority leader in 2014, he said his first order of business was killing the bank”

    But then he *changed.* It’s as if he were a different person.

  9. The only two people in America who have utter contempt for Uber and the sharing economy are Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

    So, all those cities banning and fucking with Uber are…what? Expression of total, but not utter contempt?

    Nobody is pretending that the dismantling of the nation’s failed and expensive traditional public school system via charters, vouchers, and other forms of choice is going to be reversed any time soon.

    Except the Teacher Unions, hordes of activists, and a tiny political party that they call home?

    Outside of national-security issues, nobody is turning away from an embrace of marriage equality or pot legalization (which will be on the ballot in a dozen or more states next November).

    Which is why one was brought by SC decision, and looks like the other will have to be, too?

    it’s one that will rely less and less on the government to enforce a specific set of moral values, a single identity for what it means to be American, or a particular mandate for this or that way to do business.

    So they overwhelmingly oppose gun regulation, government-provided healthcare, government-provided education, hate speech legislation, forced association and climate change treaties/agreements/whatever the fuck that shit in Paris was?
    Nick, just let it go already.

    1. “Except the Teacher Unions, hordes of activists, and a tiny political party that they call home?”

      They keep losing. Even in Cali they are losing.

      Also, young American do seem unenthused about gun-control. Otherwise it seems that Nick is overselling. Ken had a good comment about this yesterday.

      1. CA is now a one-party state. Any teachers’ union losses are minor compared to that.

      1. I’m as masculine as a manicured poodle, so I have no problem enjoying the entire soundtrack. Goes well with games like Saint’s Row or Far Cry series, too.

    2. reason is good on cultural issues, but in certain respects they’re (Nick mostly) myopic because they/he pay so little attention to economics. Our current Keynesian system is destroying us, and the damage will be incredibly difficult to repair.

      1. In their defense, clicks pay the bills (maybe? if our donations were like 2%…), and culture war gets them.

        And as for myopic, would be nice if sometimes their gaze would wander over to other parts of the world, and not just when

        a) few Muslims kill a bunch of Westerners in Europe, or
        b) few Westerners kill a bunch of Muslims in Near East (to give it its proper colonial name)

      2. It seems to me that way back when, Reason was better at coming up with articles on practical, liberty-oriented solutions to economic issues. E..g. instead of just griping about Obamacare, let’s have a deregulation-oriented replacement that can be sold politically. Screw purism, let’s at least get things moving in the right direction.

        1. I would like to see Reason be more proactive than reactive.

          It’s funny to see what a commentary hellhole Breitbart is, as if it should even be named after that guy who always stuck me as a happy warrior type.

          1. Breitbart was an awesome guy. Too bad he didn’t live another forty or fifty years.

        2. I would really like that. I think the closest voice to that in American politics would be Mike Lee. Libertarian leaning conservative with a reformist bent. He’s far from perfect, but his ilk is probably the closest we can get to what you just described.

  10. At what point exactly can we say that the “libertarian moment” never materialized or was just an illusion? The dynamic seems far too broad as it was explained.

    I reckon this might be a softball question for “Buy the book and find out”

    1. When a poll of milennials shows that they are moving out of the basement, then the libertarian moment will have formally ended

      As an aside, what Rand’s campaign shows is that libertarian (or any ideology really) politics and two-party politics cannot mix. The 20-year or so attempt to make that happen has proven to be a waste of time. Ideas can’t grow if they are constantly being killed/undermined in smoke-filled back rooms inhabited by those only interested in power.

  11. “Politics is a lagging indicator of change in America and politics will be the last sector of our lives to be revolutionized by the same forces that have made our lives so much better.

    But it’s coming.”

    If the moment is coming but not yet here in the present, then why call it “the moment” at all? Why not call it “the libertarian opportunity”.

    The libertarian opportunity isn’t going to be about old issues like gay marriage. If politics is a lagging indicator, and even they’re on board with gay marriage, then gay marriage really is yesterday’s issue.

    The libertarian opportunity comes when the Republicans start rallying around issues like opposition to climate change treaties and free speech. That’s the opportunity for libertarians moving forward.

    In a political landscape where people no longer think of themselves as left or right based on whether gay marriage and abortion make them feel icky inside, libertarians will have a great opportunity. We libertarians should want the political fault lines to run between socialistic and coercive “solutions” to climate change on one side, and those that oppose such coercive solutions to be in favor of First Amendment freedoms like religion and speech, the Second Amendment, etc.

    That’s the way the Republican winds are blowing, and, yeah, if that’s what you mean by “the libertarian moment”, then, yeah, we’ve got some big opportunities coming.

    1. “That’s the way the Republican winds are blowing”

      They would be if those people weren’t more interested in blaming Mexicans and Muslims for all of America’s problems.

      1. Those will be yesterday’s issues, too, especially with Hillderbeast being at least as big a neocon as Dubya ever was.

        Isn’t she supposed to be making a big speech tomorrow about how she’s going to end terrorism?

        1. I hope you’re right. Trump may very well just be a less articulate Perot.

      2. As soon as those Mexicans stop voting for socialism you might have a point.

    2. Kinda like how getting fired from a job is always a new opportunity. 😉

      A junky living on the street has limitless opportunities because the only way is up!

      I kid (just a bit).

      1. Standard culture war issues, like the abortion issue, didn’t always have an obvious libertarian side. There were and are legitimate libertarian divides over things like foreign policy and wars like the Iraq War. Those are just some examples.

        When the fault lines split libertarians, that is not a libertarian moment.

        But when everybody who thinks we should have authoritarian and socialist polices to address climate change is on the same side as the people who think individuals don’t really have the right to own guns, and on the other hand, you’ve got the people who think individuals should be free to own guns on the same side as those who oppose authoritarian and socialist responses to climate change–now maybe libertarian ideas have a chance.

        What was the libertarian position on whether Terry Schiavo should have her plug pulled? I’m not sure there is only one. There may be legitimate libertarian arguments on both sides. If elections are decided on issues like that, we don’t have a chance. But how many different libertarian positions are there on authoritarian and socialist solutions to climate change?

        Some are against those solutions for different reasons, but aren’t we all against authoritarianism and socialism?

  12. Whatevs. If the GOP doesn’t want my vote or any other kind of support from me, that’s fine. Free and motivated people will keep on truckin’.

  13. Also, Nick’s characterization of the Ex-Im struggle is once again misleading. The GOP leadership actually were with the good guys-it was renegade moderates that got Ex-Im reauthorized (though without the appointees needed it has a 10 million dollar roof on deals). Nick doesn’t give a shit about accuracy.

    1. Given recent history (the past year or so), Nick and others around Reason, will rather actively shit on accuracy in order to throw the other team under the bus.

  14. “…even Republicans were starting to come around to the view that constantly increasing defense spending was not going to make us safer or wealthier. Clearly, the fact that Rand Paul was the only candidate of either party who was clearly saying that…”

    Where do you get that, Nick? Sanders has always been the clearer voice about non-intervention, and excess spending in the military.

    1. joe, if you want to get Nick’s attention, you should probably stand on a stool or something. No one can see you down there.

    2. By ‘clearer’ you mean ‘supporting the 1990 intervention’. Which is the opposite of ‘clear’.

    3. Sanders doesn’t begin to understand the military, so he can hardly know what spending is excess and what is not.

      1. Which is part of the reason active military and vets tend to despise progressives.

  15. Rand vs libertarian moment. Hmm. Let’s see. Rand Paul == real person. Libertarian moment == figment of cosmotarian imagination. I think I’m going with Rand.

    I still think Rand screwed up right off the bat by spending all of his time pandering to SoCons and forgetting about his libertarian supporters. In that way, he failed to set himself apart from the pack. Then when he sort of realized this, and slid back to the libertarian side, I think it was just too late. The audience that his dad held captive during his last presidential run had already lost interest. So all he was left with is us steadfast long term libertarians who do not show up in GOP polling, or maybe 3-4% which equals his polling numbers. Most Republicans seem to hate him, they think he’s a liberal.

    At this point, I don’t see how Rand gets back in it, but I hope he does. Even if not, I’m not too disappointed, since it’s probably better if he just focuses on staying in the Senate and continuing to do the things he does there. Maybe he can help get a few more libertarians elected to congress, that probably would be more than he’ll ever accomplish as POTUS with a hostile mob on both sides of the aisle, who would gang up to vote down every idea he has.

    With Rand gone, Cruz is the only one I would consider voting for. But if he gets the nomination, he’s going to blow the general by focusing too much on religion.

    1. Re: Libertarian Moment. See what Ken said. I think he makes a clear case.

      Between MJ legalization and Uber’s winning fight, something is definitely happening. Unfortunately we seem to be in the ‘Empire Fights Back’ phase of change. I hope it’s just temporary. OTOH RoJ was the worst of the trilogy. What were we talking about again?

      1. MJ legalization is not being done for libertarian reasons. It’s being done because even if you believe in restricting drugs, MJ is relatively harmless, and more and more people are waking up to that fact. Plus the states need the tax revenue legalization brings.

        Public opinion on legalizing cocaine, meth, and heroin hasn’t moved an inch. Any libertarian moment should help equally in legalizing them, shouldn’t it?

    2. “screwed up right off the bat by spending all of his time pandering to SoCons”

      Yeah, I bet a nice left-libertarian could have picked up more votes.

      What about that nice Gary Johnson?

      1. False dichotomy strikes again.

    1. I would say that “Most People” get interested in “Government” when it get’s in their way, or pisses them off.

      1. Mostly people get interested in government when the possibility of getting something for nothing (a check in some form) becomes a possibility.

          1. /Salute

            see you later

  16. Rand Paul has been a fantastic and the most libertarian Senator. He stooped PATRIOT Act renewal, got the biggest welfare/warfare cut in history with sequester, and got Republicans to support states rights vis a vis marijuana.

    As for foreign policy and immigration, libertarian critics are being ridiculous. His views echo his fathers, who called for tighter scrutiny of those entering the country and approved the Afghanistan war as we had been attacked, just as Americans have been attacked by ISIS.

    He’s also the only one brave enough to criticize the fact U.S. is still funding al-Qaeda in Syria, and unpopular privacy rights like encryption even as the establishment intensifies their lobbying for control. To be a libertarian and actively throw the most libertarian candidate under the bus is insane.

    1. More or less this. Last sentence hits the nail on the head.

    2. Americans haven’t been attacked by ISIS, at least not any Americans who weren’t running around in ISIS-held territory.

      1. Stop ruining the narrative, Hugh!

        1. Americans weren’t attacked by ISIS; Americans were attacked by ISIS inspired terrorists. Just like Paris wasn’t attacked by ISIS but attacked by citizens (for the most part) inspired by ISIS.

          That doesn’t justify military action imo, but accuracy is a good thing.

      2. ” Americans who weren’t running around in ISIS-held territory.”

        Pretty sure their lives count too.

        1. I’m sure they count to someone, but they also chose to go to a war zone controlled by a decapitation-happy paramilitary group where their government has no jurisdiction.

          1. This does not give ISIS a right to off Americans, or lessen the responsibility of the USG to end those who do.

            1. It’s precious the way internet tuff guy chickenhawks use the word ‘end’ like that to sound like badasses. Mostly because it just underscores how impotent they are in their calls for righteous vengeance, and how powerless the government really is to solve problems with guns and bombs.

            2. You must be *this* tall to warmonger.

          2. No, they didn’t. They were in Iraq and Syria controlled territory that was overrun by ISIS. You realize you’re talking about aid workers, too?

        2. Don’t you know, Americans cease to be Americans once they cross the border.

          Donald Trump and him would get along great.

      3. Uh, are you forgetting Pamela Geller? That attack in Texas?

    3. Which is why he has my unwavering support. His voting record alone attests to him being one of the best senators in my lifetime, maybe the best.

      If he gets the nomination, he already has my vote.

      1. This. Yesterday’s thread on Rand’s (admittedly terrible) ads was full of people who would rather ‘be different’ than advance liberty.

      2. I hear what you’re saying but Paul as POTUS won’t mean a damn thing long-term if Congress doesn’t change as well. At best we’d get 4 years of gridlock, most likely followed by another 12 years of rampant socialism.

        What needs to be done needs to be done by Congress. Or more accurately, what needs to be undone must be undone by Congress. The position of POTUS needs to be diminished in importance.

        1. Which means we’d have to get new people in Congress. And that ain’t gonna happen soon, because the people that want change are too lazy to actually vote in elections that don’t have a presidential race.

          How else do you explain a Congress approval rating constantly in the 20% range, yet on average 90% of incumbent congresspeople get to keep their phony baloney jobs?

          1. Even with a House of 435 libertarians and a Senate of 100 libertarians, a Hillary /Bernie presidency would alter the make-up of the Supreme Court to such an extent as to completely nullify any actions by such Congress.

      3. I’ve been on about Reason really getting behind Rand in a big way. Reason has not done this. Now wonder libertarian candidates never get anywhere. Libertarians don’t support them for shit.

        1. I’ve been on about Reason really getting behind Rand in a big way. Reason has not done this. Now wonder libertarian candidates never get anywhere. Libertarians don’t support them for shit.

          The ideology that celebrates the individual has no talent for organization. This makes unfortunate sense.

          1. That’s not an excuse. Libertarianism is not about individualism, it’s about non-coercion.

            The founding fathers were way more libertarian than modern politicians, and they organized things quite well.

            1. Bingo. At some point people here need to quit bitching and back someone. I’ve long had my own hierarchy of candidates I’m willing to support in this election. Tirelessly tearing down Trump, or Cruz, or whomever does;t really accomplish anything. Expend that energy destroying the democrat candidates. Considering how horrific life will become under their yoke.

          2. But they could have a talent for propaganda. Seriously.

            1. Yeah. Instead of beating up on Trump every day, why not expend the same energy on columns being more of a booster for Rand? Instead of nothing, and then remarking every few weeks that his campaign os going nowhere.

  17. I can’t see the liveblog any more. Which come to think of it is a blessing.

    1. You sure do post here an awful lot for someone who hates libertarians and especially Reason so much.

      1. The liveblog, Hugh, I don’t like Republican debate liveblogs.

        When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.

  18. “The Libertarian Moment already has had an effect on politics (think pot legalization, gay marriage, work-licensing reform)”

    On gay marriage, libertarians were simply marching behind the “gay rights” parade and cheering, until suddenly the paraders started marching down Statist Street, at which point libertarians began scratching their chins and wondering what happened.

    1. Actually, the LP was one of the first to call for legalizing gay marriage they were on the vanguard.

      “at which point libertarians began scratching their chins and wondering what happened.”

      Actually Reason and others have known for a while that many gay marriage proponents weren’t basing their views from Libertarian principles. The only one mystified is you.

      1. I pointed this out repeatedly – the gay rights movement, which libertarians were cheering so vocally, wasn’t about freedom or the ability to make one’s own decisions. It was about requiring people to accept the legitimacy of certain sexual practices.

        1. But I make my own choices, don’t I? So, I support SSM for the Libertarian reasons to do so.

      2. What seems to have totally blindsided Reason was not that SSM supporters were not libertarians, it’s that they immediately turned to using legalized SSM combined with anti-discrim laws to bludgeon their opponents.

        This is something that Reason writers either ignored or insisted was unlikely or irrelevant, until it happened.

    2. Will be hilarious up here in Canadia if we get legalized pot (because pot is culturally good, not because some silly notion of freedom or anything), and it is sold exclusively through state-owned liquor stores, as Premier of Ontario suggested (booze being provincially controlled, so that here in Vancouver, only designated stores sell it, and they must buy through the government). Which will end up with worse situation than now, because god knows once tribute is threatened, state will lash harder. Just replace “liquor” with “marijuana”
      :

      Under B.C. law, police officers and liquor inspectors may seize illicit liquor from a licensed establishment if the liquor is being kept on the premises unlawfully ? for example, if there is no record of the owner having purchased the liquor through the Liquor Distribution Branch.

      Police may also seize liquor from individuals if they believe the liquor is being unlawfully possessed or kept. This might mean seizing liquor from someone who possesses open liquor or who is selling or drinking liquor in a public place or someone who is driving with an open liquor bottle in the car.

      1. That’s still better than prohibition.

      2. I already miss the black market for pot here in WA. Legalization has largely been worse. Thanks to government entanglement.

        1. Well, I’m sure it’ll be back. I’m also sure the crackdown will be twice as hard, because now it’s not just about disrespecting autoritah, it’s about stealing from the authoritah, too.

        2. Have you tried any of the delivery services? They work on a donation model and therefore…no taxes. I’ve found them to be extremely friendly (I can text them and ask how they liked certain strains, etc), courteous, and prompt. And I have gotten some really fucking good strains from them. Here are two in Seattle (if you’re not in Seattle, this kind of thing might be harder to find):

          Mercury’s Harvest

          Seattle Garden’s Express

          1. Most of us can probably be arrested for clicking on that.

            1. Yeah, but I can’t.

              Also: Cherry Pie Kush. It’s amazing.

      3. He’s not kidding. I bought beer in BC and it was like lining up in an East German communist store… except they actually had beer, it was affordable, and some of it was 12% proof spirits. Ask for Black Diamond Ale or Uncle Ben’s Malt Liquor.

        1. That’s basically how it works in Pennsylvania, too.

          1. State Stores are an abomination.

            The LCB in PA is nothing more than a state-sponsored mafia.

        2. In defense of Libertarian Moment, as of April 1st 2015, you can move your liquor store anywhere in the province! Previous rules were forbidding moving to with a certain distance of an existing liquor store. Although…

          Relocation applications will not normally be approved if the proposed site is within 1 km of an existing LRS or BCLS or the site of an LRS or BCLS application in progress.

          Want to open a new one (emphasis mine)?

          Because of a government imposed moratorium on new private liquor stores, individuals cannot apply for a new private liquor store licence, and we are not creating a waiting list of people interested in applying.

          And, we may soon be able to buy booze in supermarkets! Because that change was announced in 2014. But there’s a snag, what with whole “no new store licences” thing, so no, we can’t yet.

        3. Last time I was in Canuckistan, they were not going to let me walk out of a restaurant with a beer and walk to my hotel room. And the restaurant was on the hotel property. It was like a 100 ft walk across a parking lot, on private property (I guess that is a thing there). I’ve never had anything like that happen to me before anywhere. The person told me ‘we’re really strict up here’. I was like ‘Strict? Where the fuck am I?’. I did it anyway.

    3. Well, it was a libertarian “moment’, not a libertarian “sustained movement”. Now back to our regularly-scheduled statism.

  19. Victories for dope legalization, Uber fighting off regulators, the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment decisions and judicial anti-state-cartel decisions…these aren’t the work of a central organization, but of specific people or groups working in their field of interest, often with the discouragement of more established types (Eg, the NRA’s initial opposition to the gun litigation).

  20. Lets just set ourselves in reality and put this libertarian moment in it’s rightful place. It’s fucking pure non-sense. We aren’t having anything even closely related to a libertarian moment. I was around back in the 70s and we were a far more libertarian like country back then. In fact, it’s been pretty much straight downhill since and at an accelerated pace. The term politically correct is something I had never even heard of.

    There was weed around every day at my high school and people would smoke right out in the open. I never saw a cop, never, not even once.

    Kids drove pickup trucks to school and had gun racks in them full of real actual guns and I never once heard anyone complain about it, or even bring it up.

    No one was afraid of the cops and I never heard of anyone having their dog shot by cops or having their door busted down in the middle of the night by militarized goon squads.

    You could drive right across the border into Mexico or Canada with no passport or even any ID. You could just get on a plane and fly anywhere, no hassle at all.

    There wasn’t a rape epidemic and a new scary drug that’s gonna kill all the childins every fucking day.

    I could go on for a week and not finish this list.

    In fact, NONE of the crazy fucking authoritarian shit that is an every day thing now even existed then, at all. NONE of it.

    1. ” I was around back in the 70s and we were a far more libertarian like country back then.”

      No you weren’t. Believe it or not, there was a country outside of the corner you grew up in. It had the draft, repressive gun laws, price controls, terrible monetary policy, and much less free trade.

      “There wasn’t a rape epidemic and a new scary drug that’s gonna kill all the childins every fucking day.”

      Oh bullshit drug hysteria has been in fashion for eons now.

      “NONE of the crazy fucking authoritarian shit that is an every day thing now even existed then, at all. NONE of it.”

      Tell us what a libertarian paradise Brazil is.

      1. Your complete displays of ignorance get more entertaining every day. You weren’t around back then, dumbshit. I was.

        I lived in every part of the country by the time that I was 10 years old. Coast to coast, north, south, everywhere. You don’t even know what states are in the USA, let alone ever having been anywhere here, let anywhere else on the planet.

        1. Cyto is just some kid who doesn’t even remember the 70’s. HAHAHAHA!!!! That explains a LOT.

      2. o you weren’t. Believe it or not, there was a country outside of the corner you grew up in. It had the draft, repressive gun laws, price controls, terrible monetary policy, and much less free trade.

        If by ‘repressive gun laws’ you mean very, very few, sure.

        If by ‘the draft’ you mean having to register for selective service, sure– now we’re more equal. Womenfolk now have to register– seeing as the draft ended in ’73.

        If by price controls you mean the same byzantine system of what we now call ‘price support’…. uh huh.

        If by Terrible monetary policy, I’ll point you to the vocal stylings of Janet Yellen.

        If you mean less free trade… oh where to begin?

        1. It was also much easier to start a business back then and no one was terrorizing Vietnamese immigrants for painting peoples’ nails. I could go on forever about this too. But if you were around back then, why would I need to?

      3. There were a lot less government regulations on business. The EPA was very new and not the steroid enhanced monster it is today. No Dept. of Education or Energy until late in the decade. Among other things.

        1. It’s a mixed bag.

          Airlines and interstate trucking were much more heavily regulated in the 70s. Homebrewing was illegal. Monetary policy was every bit as bad as it is now. Unions had a lot more political influence. Concealed carry was much more restricted. Crime rates were much higher than today and increasing. Ma Bell still held a nationwide telephone monopoly.

          I’m not saying we’re in a libertarian moment, but it’s not obvious that the 70s were more liberty-friendly than now.

          1. I’m not saying everything ws great across he board. Far from it. But life was less controlled by government overall.

      4. When I was a kid in the 70s, the drug school films warned us about was pot and the teachers seemed embarrassed to show us the film.

        We had a civil war re-enactor bring in a real gun and give us a demonstration outside.

        In the 80s during the ninja craze, every boy brought a full arsenal of ninja weapons to school

        Dude, not only did you not experience the 70s, you’re not even an American. Commenting on what the US was like 40 years ago is not something you should be doing since you have no experience of it.

        1. He’s never been out of North America either, but somehow feels qualified to comment on how things are in other countries and tell people who have spent lots of time in a place, that somewhere that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Typical post adolescent babble, ‘I know nothing therefore I must pretend’.

          1. I’ve now firmly landed on “performance art and/or troll in vein of Tony” as an explanation for his posting.

        2. There were lots of bad things about the 70s. Lots more institutional racism and discrimination. Things that we seem to equate with modern individualism and choice is largely related to the advent of the internet which gives us a certain amount of instant gratification for previously hard-to-find products or information.

          I’m not going to be entirely hostile to Nick’s “libertarian moment”, but I feel it needs to be said again: my fear of my government in the 70s was far more abstract, now it’s tangible and real. And local government has its dirty mitts into everything I do from recycling to composting to smoking to vaping.

          Yes, some of those regulations are ignored or by unintentional design, unenforceable. But why do I have to keep looking over my shoulder, hoping that the Mayor doesn’t alter the deal?

          1. my fear of my government in the 70s was far more abstract, now it’s tangible and real.

            How much of that is due to soaking in Reason’s jet stream of police abuse stories? For a readership that skews heavily toward the wealthy, white, and educated, the chance of the average Reason reader winding up as the victim of police abuse is roughly equal to the chance of getting struck by lightning.

            Reason is always pointing out that the MSM inculcates parents with an unjustifiable paranoia about sex predators with its incessant sensationalizing of child sexual abuse and abduction stories… but they don’t see that they’re doing basically the same thing with police abuse stories.

  21. “He was supposed to embody a new libertarian moment. But there never was one.”

    Fighting words?

  22. Trying to pin the failure of a broad-based cultural and commercial shift by tying it to one person is best understood as a defense mechanism by folks deeply invested in perpetuating the played-out politics of left versus right,

    I’m not trying to pin it on any one person, I’m trying to pin it on… well, anyone!

      1. Pin it to the jacket, he can start getting some bling. Pretty soon he’ll look like the Fonzie version of a Latin American dictator.

  23. “Trump takes a horrible message and packages it beautifully, [Rand] Paul takes a beautiful message and packages it horribly.”

    The Libertarian Review

    1. Rand’s too intelligent for the unwashed masses to appreciate. If he could dumb himself down to Trump level and still get the same message across, Trump wouldn’t stand a chance since Rand has him beaten so badly in the hair category.

    2. The rules don’t apply to Trump. He doesn’t need donors, just voters.

  24. “We recognize that, as Matt Welch and I wrote in The Declaration of Independents, that politics is a lagging indicator of change in America and politics will be the last sector of our lives to be revolutionized by the same forces that have made our lives so much better.”

    Does that remain true even as the government’s role in everyday life increases? Seems like it’d have to start reversing after some point.

  25. Does the Kentucky senator’s lackluster presidential campaign mean that nobody supports “Free Minds and Free Markets”?

    Ding ding ding, we have a winner.

    And that ladies and gentleman is why we have had two progressive large government parties for over 100 years.

    The Libertarian moment was about 240 years ago and only lasted three generations

    1. The Nixon campaign bribery laws support no freedom of any kind.

  26. Rand Paul’s success is being in there running interference where the looters pass their laws. But he is a republican, therefore willing to kill every man, woman and child in These States if that’s what it takes to force women to reproduce against their will. Anyone hell-bent on abolishing individual rights for half the populace for the sin of having sex is not libertarian, but republican, like it says on his nameplate. There is no mystery here, and by cross-dressing as libertarian he could, if nominated, raise the hope that not wanting the police to kill children over weed is somehow compatible with not coercing pregnant women. No way will God’s Own Party stand for that shit!

    1. Are you off your meds?

      1. I don’t think there’s any meds that can fix that.

        1. Think the preggers-fixation is kind of a giveaway the Hank is itself expecting; probably eating Rocky Road with garlic and onions on top as it types.

    2. We get it tulpa, you get your rocks off by murdering babies. Can we talk about something else now?

    3. But he is a republican, therefore willing to kill every man, woman and child in These States if that’s what it takes to force women to reproduce against their will.

      Rapists should be killed. Problem solved against those who force women to reproduce against their will.

      “Justice is served.”

  27. Nick’s article reminds me of typical Monday morning column by Dallas Cowboys fan explaining that the shitty QB doesn’t mean the whole team sucks, despite the latest drubbing. But Nick’s writing this article on the Friday before the proverbial game – not a good sign for Rand or the ‘Moment.’

  28. “The same goes with the Iran deal, which is far from perfect, but is also not the appeasement ploy that hawks insist,”

    Au contraire, an agreement that permits Iran to police itself is worse than no agreement at all. And tossing a few $100 bns their way make it ridiculously stupid.

    The Jacket catches some flak.

  29. Overall it hasn’t been the best year for libertarianism. Ron Paul briefly allowed libertarians to nurture the delusion that 20% or so of GOP voters were “libertarian,” Donald Trump’s rise and Rand Paul’s fall has shattered that illusion. Baltimore and St. Louis decided to experiment with libertarian policing, with predictable results. Black Lives Matter showed it’s love of liberty this autumn with the campus shenanigans. A event in Paris showed the benefit multicultural enrichment can bring to the West. And study after study has shown that the “sharing economy” functions to allow racial discrimination. I’m pretty sure more people than Bernie Sanders and the Sea Hag are going to have a problem with it.

    1. Baltimore and St. Louis decided to experiment with libertarian policing

      The police unions were decertified, the police departments are paying all settlements out of salaries and pensions, qualified immunity was drastically scaled back, and the “LEO Bill of Rights” was repealed?

      Oh right, you have no fucking idea what “libertarian policing” is.

      1. Other things that apparently happened in Baltimore:

        – It is now legal to purchase and carry any firearm at any time and in any place
        – It is now an unimpeachable right to defend oneself, others, and property

        Who knew?

        1. It might be sarcasm, but it’s not hyperbole unless you somehow think what happened in Baltimore and St. Louis has some resemblance to libertarianism in action.

      2. You’re describing some kind of dream world there.

  30. Nick, you need to turn on spell check.

  31. “Where are we going?”
    “The libertarian moment!”
    “When?”
    “Real soon!”

    I really wish I could be as optimistic about this as Nick is, but I just don’t see it.

    1. It’s kinda like fusion power, sentient artificial intelligence, and the practical electric car: Forever just over the horizon.

      1. i remember reading an article in discover sometime in the late nineties about how we were all gonna have personal ultralight helicopters real soon. not only has that not happened, it also kinda sounds like a horrible idea

        1. Safe as helicopters.

        2. The regulations would ground those ultralight helicopters anyways.

      2. Maybe it’s nostalgia, or me being younger at the time and me being an old coot now, but prospects for libertarian reform definitely seemed brighter in the 90s than they are today.

  32. I still think Paul could do well in a general election if he went back to the form of a year ago (or could have, had he maintained form). But he doesn’t seem as committed to those positions as we had hoped, and in the current climate of Trump and ISIS the GOP base certainly wasn’t going to make it easy for him.

  33. “JPyrate. What s good in life?”

    “To scare my enemies”

    “To see their diapers driven before me”

    “To hear the weeping, and lamentations of their nannies”

  34. The Libertarian Moment? Tell it to someone who’s already been there, done that.

    The libertarians started out with some good ideas (at least until they got co-opted by progtards), but most of those have already been appropriated by newer, more realistic (and hipper!) political movements. There are plenty of nascent political movements on the right that support low taxes, small government, a good deal of personal liberty (even legal drugs!) without seeing the necessity of chasing every idiot progtard social agenda and turning their country into a third world hell-hole.

    Quite simply, as a political movement libertarianism has already made it’s contribution, and is already obsolete, except as a botique philosophy for aging hipsters to signal how “unique” they are.

    1. Fuck off Tulpa.

      Turd Burglar.

      1. If he is a cat turd burglar, maybe he can break in and clean my cats’ liters box for me. He can keep ALL the turds.

    2. Your argument is based upon the fallacious notion across from libertarianism stands utopia; that we can draw a group of wise, just, and moral men to rule us from the rabble who are so unwise, unjust, and immoral as to need ruling.

      Or, as I said in my comment there, “no government yet conceived has proven itself immune to capture from the very same sort of people it claims to be protecting us all against.”

    3. “There are plenty of nascent political movements on the right that support low taxes, small government, a good deal of personal liberty (even legal drugs!)”

      Yes, and I believe they call themselves libertarian (or liberty-conservative, conservatarian, etc.)

      Just because its different people taking the lead now (Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, 90s) (Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Justin Amash, now), doesn’t mean that it isn’t the same ideology.

      Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, The Campaign for Liberty, Young Americans for Liberty, Students For Liberty, NH Liberty Alliance, the Free State Project, The Liberty Caucus. All of them came from the same philosophy of limited government from which CATO and Reason were born. And the fact that it was an old Congressman in his 70s, who was the nominee for the Libertarian Party in 88, that helped bring this movement back within the Republican Party is a testament to libertarianism’s staying power.

    4. well, that writer is an idiot. completely unable to distinguish between culture and government. actually uses people being forced to do something they don’t want to as a reason not to be libertarian….. , and then ends with some nonsensical scenario with samurai burning down 3 houses to save a village…….

      1. Yeah, that jumped out at me too;

        Libertarians must call Kambei’s [see Seven Samurai] action indefensible. But by any stretch of common sense, his action is laudable, and is not only excused, it is demanded by his mission to save the villagers. Hence, libertarian logic in this wartime case leads to a false conclusion, nay, an utterly false conclusion: not merely untrue, but the exact opposite of truth.

        Libertarianism doesn’t work in a state of war and is, therefor, generally incoherent and unpractical? I suppose since they didn’t democratically vote to see if the houses should be burned down that democracy is a non-viable political option and, assuming Kambei would’ve remorselessly killed them for the greater good, violently-enforced socialism is really the only practical option.

        Apparently, John Wright has never heard the old adage ‘tough cases make for bad law.’ and, simultaneously, isn’t the least bit familiar with Japanese socio-political history.

  35. I just saw meme on “Idiot Book’ Apparently 60% of the population did not vote in the last Presidential Election.

    Oh woe is the electorate !!!

    Maybe 60% of the population does not give a flying fuck what you think ?

    Libertarian moment ???

  36. Paul is best when he’s articulating Libertarian positions, and he doesn’t come as a crank like his pappy. If only he could be true to his own rhetoric. I suspect he has some really bad campaign advisers.

  37. Someone please explain how we can have open borders and a welfare state?

    1. We can’t. But lots of people here seem perfectly happy to start with open borders first. Not sure how that logic plays out in their minds.

      1. The reason is simple: laziness. People who seriously consider shutting down the welfare state because they recognize the existential threat it poses start to tackle the problem and then realize that it’s just too hard to take away free goodies that have been and continue to be given to some segment of society.

        Look at the hard time Rubio has turning away sugar industry subsidies (corporate welfare). He isn’t willing to do the hard work of divesting himself of the political support he gets from the sugar industry so that he can put himself in a position to actually stop the sugar subsidies.

        If Baltimore’s riots are any indicator, anyone who does the hard work of removing SNAP and EBT is going to face a huge firestorm of violent protests, and who’s diligent enough to deal with that? Easier to look the other way and let the whole thing collapse on someone else’s watch.

  38. Libertarianism = classic liberalism = the principles of the US Constitution, individual liberty, limited government, equal opportunity under rule of law, etc. It is the mainstream of American politics.

    That libertarianism should be able, still, to win an electoral majority in America. But the current American libertarians want to be a fringe cult. They want to be about Ayn Rand, radical pacifism, marijuana, conspiracy theories, etc.

    And as soon as Rand Paul says or does something to try to win votes from other corners of the Republican party, they abandon him and turn against him.

  39. There has been, is not and won’t be a “libertarian moment” in America. America is a deeply authoritarian culture and the only reason that no dictatorship has yet been established is that there are sectarian differences in how to run people’s lives. The much vaunted 1st Amendment reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. It does not say Congress shall not establish a religion. Why? Because several states had established religions and that amendment’s first priority was to protect the established religions. It was the fear that the established religions would face competition that drove that amendment, not a desire for freedom.

    As for the millennials interest in liberty, only a brain dead ideologue could seriously argue that a generation brought up by helicopter parents and who live in terror of words without a “trigger warning” has any interest in individual liberty. Millennials are the most risk averse generation in history, brought up to demand protection from any influence that might cause them agita.

    Yes, Rand Paul’s campaign is a mish-mash of pro- and anti- liberty ideas that was doomed to fail but had he been the paragon of libertarian values he still would be in the low single digits. The combination of xenophobia and war hysteria would have crushed Thomas Jefferson on his best day.

    1. “It was the fear that the established religions would face competition that drove that amendment, not a desire for freedom.”

      So how would quashing religious competition be compatible with the Free Exercise Clause, you know, that group of words that came right after “establishment of religion”?

  40. Does the Kentucky senator’s lackluster presidential campaign mean that nobody supports “Free Minds and Free Markets”?

    Yeah, pretty much.

  41. “So Rand Paul managed to qualify?barely?for the grownup’s table at tonight’s Republican presidential-candidate debate.”
    And Rand Paul managed to behave like the only grownup at the table.

    1. He had a lot more business being there than Kasich. How did that douchebag make the cut?

  42. Rand does have the best logo, though.

  43. One thing I have noticed when talking with both liberals/leftists/progressives and conservatives alike is that they have set in their minds libertarianism as a giant straw man that they can easily whip out and use to prove a point.

    In an argument, they pick some libertarian position that seems to them to be extreme and then easily knock the straw man down.

    Like the commonly-used “Somalia is a libertarian paradise” straw man. “Yeah, so you oppose gun control? So you must want your neighborhood to be like Somalia, the libertarian utopia where anything goes…”

    It’s easy to use and it shuts up the weakest debaters quickly. But it unfortunately reinforces in both the left and right-leaning minds that libertarianism = vewy, vewy baaad.

    We’re going to have to beat this libertarianism-as-straw-man gimmick time and time again to get people to consider libertarianism as a choice.

  44. Rand Paul was accepted to medical school BEFORE getting an undergraduate degree. Why? Because he scored SO high on the medical school entrance exams. He is an organized, principled genius. He come from a family of hard workers. Most importantly, he is trained to list problems from biggest to smallest and tackled them in that order. Whereas the other candidates will let our country bleed to death while they focus on an ingrown toenail. If voters understood who Rand is he would win in a landslide! #IStandWithRand.

  45. I reject the premise of this article. Rand Paul is not a libertarian or a Libertarian. He has explicitly said so himself.

    So sure, Paul’s anemic campaign says nothing about any “libertarian moment”. Because he isn’t a libertarian, and acting like there’s some “association” between libertarians/Libertarians and Rand Paul is just pathetic.

    1. Reason is the desperately horny, ugly girl at the party and Paul is the only guy there who has so much as winked at her.
      Reason is smitten.

  46. “Does the Kentucky senator’s lackluster presidential campaign mean that nobody supports “Free Minds and Free Markets”?”

    Don’t make us laugh. It’s all too well and widely understood the enormous amount of government required to establish “free” markets.

  47. Thanks for the decent news about Millennials, Nick.
    I propose that teaching the rising demography about the benefits of correct constitutionalism would be the most effective interim course, for an array of reasons.

  48. Rand Paul took the wind out of libertarian enthusiasm with his compromises here and there. He is the most “libertarian-ish” of the -R candidates, but not pure enough to inspire the kind of fire as before. Plus a LOT of the libertarian-minded pushed past faith in the electoral cycle.

    Another thing. The eureka moment for the American body politic came with Ron Paul’s candidacy in 2008 and while he “cured” the “apathy” of many, brought a lot of people into the political process at the time, we all saw how Ron Paul’s activists and party faction was treated at the Republican Party convention in 2008. Done with that, despite all the noise then.

    Some of that energy is now diverted to local races, like some I know of locally. And speaking for myself, I still hold him as a selection number one.

    PLUS POLLS CANNOT BE TRUSTED. These party hacks and gov-media love them. People are fickle. The crowd that laid down palm leaves for the Son of God in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, were only days later yelling to “Crucify him!”

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