If Rand Paul weren’t the son of his famous father, how many libertarians would be enthusiastic about him? He would be one of the less-offensive members of Congress, but he would ultimately be just another politician who’s defending the fundamentals of the status quo.
When Rand Paul ran for the U.S. Senate and his father, Ron Paul, retired from politics, many long-time Paul supporters saw the son as the natural successor to the man they had idolized for years. As much as I admire certain things about Ron Paul, I couldn’t support his candidacy, as I explained two years ago. What’s worse, no outsider candidate of the Ron Paul sort has any chance of being elected president running with libertarian principles.
Ron Paul was the ultimate outsider as a member of Congress. His fellow congressmen called him “Dr. No” because he voted against anything that wasn’t specifically authorized by the Constitution. He didn’t compromise and he didn’t play political games. He spoke the truth as he understood it and people thought he was a nut. And he left with a bang, asking a series of questions that statists are still ignoring.
His son is taking a very different path. Anyone who expected a principled libertarian has to be badly disappointed by Sen. Rand Paul.
I’m reminded of this (again) because of Paul’s recent comments about Bradley Manning. Speaking at a Cato University event, Paul said he doesn’t have any sympathy for Manning, who was just sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents revealing what many of us see as war crimes committed by U.S. forces in Iraq, among other things.
Instead of acknowledging the role Manning played in letting us know what the U.S. government has been doing in our name (and with our money), Paul is taking the official government line.
“There do have to be laws to protect some secrets,” Rand said, according to DL Magazine. “I think if you’ve got the, you know, the plans on how to make a nuclear bomb that is a state secret. If you give that to the enemy, that is being treasonous. Even if you reveal it, you just have to have laws against that. What Manning did was just willy-nilly, just released millions of pages of things and I think some people have said there is potentially some harm from that. You know individual agents that could have been killed or put at risk from this. So there is a problem with that. So I just can’t support that.”
If you’re a part of the establishment — and see yourself as protecting that system and its laws — his position is a reasonable one. But if you see the government’s actions as immoral and if you believe that such evil has to be uncovered, you don’t honestly care about the legislation and the rules of such a corrupt system. You simply believe that the truth about such evil has to come out — no matter how it happens.
When people inside the governments or military of Nazi Germany or the communist Soviet Union realized the immorality of what they were a part of and decided to fight the system, they frequently turned to exposing information to the world about their systems. Doing that was illegal in their systems, but those of us on this side praised them for their courage and morality in fighting the evil acts of out-of-control governments.
Why do we praise those who exposed evil-doing by other governments, but Paul is willing to defend the letter of the law when it comes to defending the Establishment in this country that’s guilty of outrageous conduct? It’s simple. He’s a part of that system.
You can be an outsider or you can be an insider. You can’t be both. You can’t defend the system and the laws that allow it to hide its evil deeds while also claiming to be fighting for freedom and what’s right. Those two are incompatible.
Rand Paul is another of those who believes he can change the system — at least incrementally — by becoming a part of it. But when you become part of the system, you’re corrupted by it. You keep compromising and going along with more and more of what’s wrong, just in little ways at first. When you’re in the belly of the beast, you naturally have to defend its laws and its rules — even if those laws are covering up gross abuses.
You eventually have to decide which side you’re on — the side of “obeying the law” or the side of doing what’s right.
Paul has chosen to join the Establishment. He’s not a libertarian. He’s certainly not fighting the state. He’s joined the state. Even though there are things I like about him at times, he’s just as much the enemy as the rest of them. He chose to join the system. He no longer has the moral authority to fight it.
That should sadden and disgust those of us who have held his father in such high regard over the years.