Monday, June 11, 2012

Rand Paul Endorsement of Mitt Romney Was a Tactical Masterstroke for Libertarianism

I’m starting to think I must be the only voice in an avalanche of Paulites who wasn’t outraged by Senator Rand Paul’s endorsement of Mitt Romney.

As a libertarian with a perspective of the Scottish independence movement and the nascent liberty movement in my home country, Ireland, I sometimes wonder if many of Ron Paul’s supporters are more invested in the short game of winning elections than in the long game of building a free world, an objective which transcends personality politics.

So was Rand Paul’s endorsement really a sellout? Or was it a tactical master stroke for the libertarian agenda? It depends. Let’s face it, the reaction itself was just a lot of hot air, equivalent to the outrage of folk fans when Dylan went electric in the sixties.

“Sellout!” they cried. “He’s giving in to the man!” It’s a rich metaphor considering the general air of folk whimsy about Ron (as well as the purity complex of his more hardcore fans) and the more hard-edged, charismatic persona of his sequel.

I don’t believe that supporting your party’s nominee somehow represents a devaluation of principles. Endorsements are just talk, and talk is cheap. But no need to worry; so far at least, Rand walks the walk. He is against foreign aid. He wants to audit the Federal Reserve. He has proposed a budget which balances in five years. He is one of the few members of the Tea Party insurgency who eats with a knife and fork.

He may be willing to haggle, but Rand is no moderate.

If he was wrong about anything, it was timing. To give Romney his backing just one day after the Paul campaign announced their shortfall of delegates must have stung for legions of supporters who were so emotionally invested for so long in defeating Romney.

But by sending the message that he is a team player to the inner bigwigs of the Republican Party, Rand succeeds in doing something that Ron never managed to do: build bridges. Speculation on a VP slot aside (of which I am quite skeptical) it means at the very least he may be given a headline slot in the convention in Tampa.

A similar convention gig launched Barack Obama into the public consciousness back in the 2004 presidential race when Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was the Democratic nominee for president.
Frankly, I couldn’t care less about Romney. His Keynesian, pro-war and pro-nanny state policies, not to mention that sheer oiliness makes him a pretty weak candidate in the first place.

I would like to see Obama getting a second term, then Senator Paul in 2016. Better suffer through four more years of big government neoconservatism under Obama (it’s true) than a potential eight under Romney and an war with Iran thrown in for good measure.

Rand Paul will become a sellout if –and only if — he changes his senate voting habits away from libertarian values.

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