It’s long been the policy of this blog to never, ever endorse candidates. Partly because it seems arrogant – I mean, who cares what I think? And partly because even if I do have any influence over what people think about how they vote, I’d much prefer that that influence go to helping, in whatever way I can, to get anyone who’d be influence by my opinion to think more confidently for themselves instead.
But today, I’m going to break with that tradition.
On this, the eve of the Iowa caucuses, I’m going to give an unqualified, fervent endorsement for Paul.
Paul represents one of the most important things I believe – the need to push libertarian legislation and policy into the mainstream of American political thought.
Oh, yeah – just so we’re clear, I’m talking about Senator Rand Paul.
I know. He’s not running for President – not this time. And that’s fine – because I’m not endorsing him for President.
I’m endorsing his approach to pushing the ideas and ideals of liberty into the mainstream of Republican politics.
Oh, his father, Ron Paul? The guy breaks my heart. Yeah, he’s a big-L libertarian and all, but even if you leave out the racist rants from thirty years ago (and even if we do, the media won’t allow the electorate to ignore them – and the electorate should be aware!), he’s basically claiming he can balance the budget on the back of defense, while he’s proposed nothing as far as cutting and reforming entitlements, which is basically saying “the dog ate my homework” if your campaign is ostensibly based on, y’know, reforming government.
No, I’m endorsing Rand Paul for the very reason I’d love to be able to endorse his father. When I left the GOP in 1994, I did it because I wanted to belong to a party that believed in Liberty, the Bill of Rights, Originalism, and the whole idea that this nation is built on inalienable rights, not entitlements deeded to us by the Government.
And I spent four years interacting with people whose entire involvement in politics was to endlessly reiterate pure ideology, secure in the knowledge that they’d never have to actually tackle a budget or try to downsize a bureaucracy, since none of them were ever going to get elected to anything, ever. Ever. And I came back to the GOP, reasoning that it’d be easier to get the GOP to adopt enough Libertarian ideals to be palatable, and still be able to get people elected to get some - enough – of those ideals moved into some sort of policy.
Ron Paul has been a GOP Congressman for a long, long time. And he’s had a positive effect on the GOP – when he’s bothered to exert his influence in the party. But in 2008, when it became clear the nomination was far out of reach, he endorsed Libertarian party candidate Chuck Baldwin for President. Which is marginally less useful that lighting up that endorsement and burning it – and set a noxious example for Paul’s followers; if you don’t get what you want, walk away.
An example too many of his followers claim they’ll follow, if Paul doesn’t win the nomination. It’s especially true of the “Young Republicans” who, we are told, are very solidly behind Paul – and, some say, likely to sit out the election if Paul doesn’t get nominated. Which is – I’ll be tactful – a lousy idea, this notion that you’ll “teach the GOP a lesson” by rewarding the US with another term of Barack Obama.
Parties don’t “learn lessons”, they reflect commitment.
And if you take your toys and go home, that’s exactly what will happen; the GOP will reflect your (withdrawal from ) commitment; Obama will benefit from it.
Answer this honestly; do you believe the nation will be better off under Obama than under even purported “RINO” MItt Romney? Why?
And that’s why I’m endorsing Rand Paul – not for President (yet) but because he, unlike his father and way too many of his father’s supporters, knows that politics is a marathon, not a sprint; and that the cause of Liberty is better served by working within, and sometimes fighting like hell within, a party that is sympathetic (if not always actively enough) to Liberty, as opposed to the party that believes it’s just another word for having your wants satisfied. And he knows that if he and his Liberty-loving followers don’t let up, they can get it all – elected, and the opportunity to get their ideals actually enacted into law.
UPDATE: Commenter “Courier J” notes that I got the name of the Libertarian Party’s candidate in 2008 wrong – it was Bob Barr.
I was only partially wrong, of course; Rep. Paul came on the Northern Alliance when he was in town for the “Campaign for Liberty” event, just before the RNC (the same day Sarah Palin was chosen as McCain’s running mate). He gave a fairly churlish interview in which he urged conservatives disaffected by McCain’s coronation to check out Larry Hagelin (of the Natural Law party), Barr, and Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, whom Paul eventually did endorse.
Which was, of course, the point of my post.