Donald Trump

Rand Paul Won Because "Voters…Wanted to Give the Finger to Washington"

An establishment GOP candidate looks back at why Paul beat him

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Trey Grayson—the establishment-anointed candidate who Rand Paul trounced in Kentucky's 2010 GOP Senate primary—recently sat down with Paul's old campaign manager, David Adams, to reminiscence about what the heck happened. The Washington Post has published the results.

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What's the takeaway for libertarians? As Adams says, "Trey's greatest strength was that he had Mitch McConnell in his corner. And Rand's greatest strength was that Trey had Mitch McConnell in his corner. And it was a bigger strength for Rand than it was for Trey."

Was this a sign that McConnell just wasn't serious enough as an across-the-board respecter of American liberties? Not necessarily: Donald Trump won the state with over 62 percent of the vote on a scorched-earth nationalist platform that included promises to not cut entitlement spending, and then he appointed an attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who's as opposed as anyone could be to Paul on some of the senator's pet issues, from surveillance to drug laws to criminal justice reform. (Paul nonetheless voted to confirm Sessions as attorney general. As Adams says in the Post piece, he's trying to play along with others lately.)

Trump's Kentucky approval ratings have fallen by 20 percent lately. I'd like to think that's because of appointments like Sessions, but I doubt it.

Grayson has a plausible explanation for how an electorate could love both Rand Paul and Donald Trump: "The voters clearly wanted to give the finger to Washington, but it wasn't just the Obama administration. It was Republican leadership. And we didn't understand that in the race."

That echoes a thought from Thomas Massie, a libertarian-leaning Republican who represents Kentucky's 4th district in the House of Representatives. "I thought they were voting for libertarian Republicans," he told The Washington Examiner. "But after some soul searching I realized when they voted for Rand and Ron [Paul] and me in these primaries, they weren't voting for libertarian ideas—they were voting for the craziest son of a bitch in the race. And Donald Trump won best in class, as we had up until he came along."

The fight to channel frustration with government and the establishment in a libertarian direction is, and will remain, an ongoing intellectual and political battle. The successes of Sen. Paul, Rep. Massie, and Michigan Rep. Justin Amash show that libertarian ideas are compatible with establishment-bashing. Trump's election shows they aren't the same thing.

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  1. Rand Paul for President.

    He ain’t perfect (NO TRUE SCOTSMAN!), but he’s better than just about anything else they can offer up.

    1. Rand Paul for Senator. Please stay, stay long and hard and filibuster, vote no and stop policy where they should be made. Sorry but I prefer him in the Senate where he can stay true to the cause of liberty (or his view of it anyway). If he becomes President as we saw in the debates he will move to the authoritarian right block to win.

      1. It’s hard to ignore that his spoiler vote in the Senate has gone a long way this past year. Good, or bad, depending on your point of view.

        1. And it’s even more powerful now with a 51-49 split.

    2. Rand Paul 2020 — a Clear Vision for the Future.

      1. With plenty of Bitcoin billionaires to back him, hopefully.

      2. Optometrist joke?

    3. I just started 7 weeks ago and I’ve gotten 2 check for a total of $2,000…this is the best decision I made in a long time! “Thank you for giving me this extraordinary opportunity to make extra money from home.
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    5. Don’t worry about libertarian purity. We need to move the debate in our direction a little at a time. It won’t happen waiting for the theoretically perfect candidate.

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  2. As Adams says in the Post piece, he’s trying to play along with others lately.

    But why though?

    1. He’s probably concerned that Trump carried his state and is worried that if he goes against Trump that he might find himself out of the job. That could be because Trump literally threatened to primary Republicans that got in his way.

      1. I think it’s partially that, but also probably a belief that he can accomplish more if he “goes with the flow” somewhat and doesn’t rock the boat too much. Somewhat understandable, but at times it’s very frustrating and leaves a bad taste in the mouth so to speak (e.g. voting for Sessions).

        Rand just got reelected to a 6 year term, I don’t think there’s too much electoral pressure for him at the moment to stay in line. How many people in 2016 voted for Senate based on what happened in 2011 and 2012? There’s a good chance Trump isn’t even president in 2022, and his influence on Senate races is debatable (see Alabama, where his preferred candidate lost in the primary and the general). I really think he believes he’ll accomplish more utilizing this strategy. How true that is, we shall see.

  3. That echoes a thought from Thomas Massie, a libertarian-leaning Republican who represents Kentucky’s 4th district in the House of Representatives. “I thought they were voting for libertarian Republicans,” he told The Washington Examiner. “But after some soul searching I realized when they voted for Rand and Ron [Paul] and me in these primaries, they weren’t voting for libertarian ideas?they were voting for the craziest son of a bitch in the race. And Donald Trump won best in class, as we had up until he came along.”

    tmw you realize you’re the pig at a pig party.

    1. So we should have gone with McAfee after all….

    2. When this nation was founded the libertarian philosophy was a crazy radical idea. In modern politics and even after tremendous success it is still a crazy radical idea.

  4. So when libertarianish candidates get elected, the voters don’t even do it for libertarianish reasons? LIBERTARIAN MOMENT!!!

    1. I voted for Trump in the GOP Primary for the purest of libertarian reasons.

  5. Grayson has a plausible explanation for how an electorate could love both Rand Paul and Donald Trump: “The voters clearly wanted to give the finger to Washington, but it wasn’t just the Obama administration. It was Republican leadership. And we didn’t understand that in the race.”

    Also, Kentucky voters had heard of both men. Given the busy non-political non-news-watching lives of most folks, that’s a surprisingly important part of winning elections!

  6. Drain the Deep State

  7. Grayson has a plausible explanation for how an electorate could love both Rand Paul and Donald Trump: “The voters clearly wanted to give the finger to Washington, but it wasn’t just the Obama administration. It was Republican leadership. And we didn’t understand that in the race.”

    Shorter version: Grayson’s a cuck.

    1. Or maybe they didn’t want another Establishment drone.

  8. There are exceptions such as Rand Paul but most career politicians of either party put themselves and their egos before country. Relatives, benefactors, donors, in short the Banana Republic operation, too. Who would I vote for the wimp Jeb Bush, or a Michelle Bachmann or a Sarah Palin? Not the wimp. Was Trump at the top of my list? No, he still is a dealer first, but that is hugely better than most career politicians.

  9. Rand Paul won because people thought they were getting a more pragmatic version of Ron Paul (and not a more conservative version of Gary Johnson.)

  10. Like the kids like to say on those new-fangled tweeterphones, this didn’t age well, daddy-o

    The continued presence and dominance of Steve Bannon in his inner circle indicates that Trumpian nationalism, though the administration doesn’t spell this out explicitly, yearns toward ethno-nationalism.

    Once Rand Paul dropped out of the GOP primary Trump was the most libertarian guy on the GOP ticket. He continued being so in the general election thanks to the poor choice of the LP nominating convention*.

    (*unless you wanna count “fringe candidates” like my choice, Mike Castle)

  11. Hey! I know David Adams. We play baseball together. Very good guy. Spearheading the movement in KY for pot legalization.

  12. So… Rand Paul is literally like Donald Trump then.

    I’m sure he’ll be happy to know.

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