Rand Paul

Rand Paul Will Endorse Donald Trump, the Least Libertarian GOP Nominee in Decades

'I've always said I will endorse the nominee," said Rand Paul.


Screenshot via Stephen Colbert

Sen. Rand Paul isn't joining the #NeverTrump bandwagon. In a recent interview, he reminded radio host Leland Conway that he plans to endorse the Republican Party's presidential nominee, no matter who it is. 

"You know, I've always said I will endorse the nominee," said Paul. "I think it's almost a patriotic duty of anyone in Kentucky to oppose the Clintons, because I think they're rotten to the core, I think they're dishonest people, and ultimately I think we have to be concerned with what's best for Kentucky." 

Paul cited Clinton's recent comments about eliminating coal jobs as reason enough for Kentucky voters to oppose her. 

The libertarian-leaning Republican isn't wrong about Clinton's awfulness. But Trump—a thin-skinned lunatic who peddles conspiracy theories, encourages violence and censorship, prefers big government, and loathes the free market—is just as bad, and arguably much worse, including and especially from a libertarian perspective. 

There is virtually no issue where Trump's views align with libertarianism (his continued support for eminent domain, a policy that virtually no one else in the GOP or libertarian movement supports, is perhaps the best example of this). And while it's true that some conservatives can be counted on to advance libertarian positions on a handful of issues, this doesn't apply to Trump, because he isn't even a conservative. He's a member of the authoritarian populist right—a segment of the population that shares nothing in common with libertarianism. 

Paul knows all this, of course. To his credit, he was one of the first Republican presidential candidates to stand up to Trump on the debate stage. (Trump, demonstrating his remarkable lack of self-awareness, responded by mocking Paul's hair.) I presume that at this point, Paul thinks it's best for his political future if he doesn't burn any additional bridges with Trump people. 

He may wish to reconsider that, however. A whole host of influential, thoughtful Republicans are refusing to support Trump. Paul Ryan has declined to back Trump (at least "for now," he said). Mitt Romney will not endorse Trump. National Review writers are openly considering voting for likely Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson. Republican strategist Mary Matalin has officially switched her party identification to Libertarian. 

Given that conservatives and Republicans can't bring themselves to vote for Trump, it would be a little bizarre for the nation's most well-known libertarian-leaning Republican politician to endorse the least libertarian GOP nominee since Richard Nixon.