Of the politicians currently in Congress, Rand Paul is probably the one whose views would be least damaging to the country if he were made president. In other words, I consider him the “least bad” of the bunch.
Despite that — and despite the fact that I liked his political theater last week — I won’t support him for president. It’s for the same reason I didn’t support his father for president. I don’t want anybody to be president.
I’m opposed to the entire current system. I don’t support any system that says it has the power to tell others what to do and says it has the power to steal their money. The idea at the core of our system as it’s constituted — that the majority have the right to make up rules that everyone else has to obey — is immoral and evil. Anybody who takes the reins of power in that system is giving legitimacy to that idea.
Some people who see themselves as pragmatists believe they should be a part of the system, saying that it’s the only way to influence the system and that since the system is going to exist, we might as well accept it and get seats at the table when the power is divvied up. I understand that position, because I tried to live that way for awhile. Eventually, though, I had to give it up as morally bankrupt.
Even if you’re a libertarian — of the minarchist type — and believe it’s OK to establish a central governing authority over what we call the United States, Rand Paul isn’t much of a libertarian. He’s an odd mixture of libertarian and pragmatist conservative. That might actually sell well in a future Republican primary, but it shouldn’t carry much weight with libertarians.
Paul endorsed Mitt Romney for president last fall, but I’m willing to hold my nose and give him a pass on that one, if I’m evaluating it from a minarchist Republican point of view. He was playing the political party game, the one that says you must support your party’s candidate for president — whoever he is — after the nomination process is over. I understand that. Once you’ve made the decision to play that game, you have to go through the formality of throwing your support to the party’s standard-bearer, at least after it no longer matters.
When Rand Paul was running for the Senate in Kentucky, he was very clear about not being a libertarian, despite the fact that his opponents tried to hang the label on him.
“They thought all along that they could call me a libertarian and hang that label around my neck like an albatross, but I’m not a libertarian,” Paul told Time magazine.
Especially on the issue of foreign policy, Paul is much more willing to support the United States intervening in the affairs of other countries. For instance, he supported sanctions against Iran. He also voted in favor of keeping the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay open, despite the vile indefinite imprisonment of various people who’ve never been given trials or an opportunity to defend themselves.
Paul doesn’t necessarily support the muscular foreign policy favored by the Bush administrations or someone such as Dick Cheney — who ever seemed to meet a country he didn’t want to invade — but he also doesn’t support the libertarian notion of leaving the rest of the world alone as long as they’ll leave us alone.
Rand Paul is a conservative with libertarian leanings. In many ways, he’s a throwback to the Old Right of the 1960s and before. He would be a definite potential improvement over an Obama or Bush, but someone such as Paul would be a stop-gap solution at best, even if he could get enough people to go along with him.
The only reason I take this Paul seriously as a presidential candidate — when I didn’t take his father seriously — is that he’s not a libertarian.
If you’re a libertarian of the minarchist type and you’re hoping for a president to implement libertarian solutions for the country, Rand Paul will disappoint you. I think he’s a shrewd politician. I think he’s a very intelligent man. I even like him. But his principles are the same as his father’s.
Even if you still believe in the possibility of salvation through the election process, Rand Paul isn’t your savior.