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The libertarian moment in American politicsforetold just last year in the New York Times magazineis like the horizon; always retreating as we advance upon it.
The political events of 2015 are a brutal reminder about how far this country is from embracing libertarianism and how alien those ideas are even to the purported shock troops of the freedom movement. While libertarianisms opponents can take heart, its champions are setting their cause back by pretending that all is well.
The collapse of the Rand Paul campaign speaks volumes. In a 15-person field, Paul is the only candidate who looks even remotely libertarian (social tolerance, foreign policy restraint, and limited government). He started the campaign with decent name recognition, a seat in the United States Senate, lavish media attention, a serious will to win, and a battle-tested, national political operation inherited from his father, Ron.
If there were any significant support for Libertarian ideas in the GOPany at allRand Paul would be near the top of an otherwise crowded, fragmented field that is fighting over every non-libertarian voter in the party.
If real Libertarian votes were there for the taking, someone would have come along and done the harvesting.
Yet hes polling at a mere 1 percent among Republican voters nationwide and has a higher unfavorability rating than anyone else in the GOP race.
According to an August survey by the independent polling firm Eschelon Insights, far and away the most popular candidate nationwide among libertarian-inclined Republicans is Donald Trump, the least libertarian candidate in the race.
Libertarians who cant stomach Trump scattered their support without any ideological rhyme or reason (11 percent for Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, 9 percent for Ted Cruz and John Kasich, 8 percent for Carly Fiorina, 7 percent for Paul).
The secret of Trumps appeal to Pauls base is that a large segment of the Ron Paul Revolution leavened its libertarianism with a pony keg of crazy. Birthers, 9/11 Truthers, a wide assortment of conspiracy theorists (many of whom believe the Federal Reserve to be a modern manifestation of the Illuminati), and naked racists rivaled the number of reasonably sober libertarian-ish voters among the faithful.
Trump won their hearts by throwing even more crazy into the mix and stirring up a white, working class populism last given political life by George Wallace.
Paul let these voters down because he was disinclined to offer the distasteful dog whistles that his father traded for extremist support, much less the louder, baser appeals that are Trumps stock-in-trade.
The second voter bloc Rand Paul hoped to bring into his campTea Partiershas likewise rejected the Kentucky Republican. Thats because there are few Libertarians there, either.
According to a survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, more than half the Tea Party is made up of the religious right while only 26 percentthe smallest ideological bloc within the groupcan be loosely described as Libertarian.And Tea Partiers have always manifested a large degree of nativist populism.
It should be no surprise, then, that the candidates doing best with Tea Partiers are Donald Trump (37 percent support), Ted Cruz (19 percent), and Ben Carson (14 percent). Rand Paul? Two percent.
Sure, one can argue that Paul has run a sub-par campaign and that a more adroit effort would have produced better results.But given the above, it is hard to argue, as some do, that Paul would have done better had he run as more of a libertarian.
If real libertarian votes were there for the taking, someone would have come along and done the harvesting.
If there was truly a $20 (electoral) bill lying on the sidewalk, its hard to believe that none of the other 14 starving candidates would bother to pick it up.
Yet this is precisely the narrative that the prophets of the Libertarian vote would have us believe: an epic political market failure.
Theres good reason that political professionalsthose with the most to gain from an accurate reading of the political landscapedo not pander to the libertarian vote: It doesnt exist.
The most thorough search for libertarian sentiment was conducted last year by the Pew Research Center.They asked 10,013 adults 23 questions about a variety of social and political issues and then used cluster analysis to sort respondents into homogeneous groups. Pew found that Americans who resembled libertarians form a group that is too small to analyze: no more than 5 percent of those surveyed.
Its true that if we avoid asking people about concrete issues and instead ask general questions, we can (if we squint hard enough) see a great deal of latent libertarian sentiment out there.
It has been noted, for instance, that 59 percent of the American public is, broadly speaking, libertarian in that they answer yes to the question Would you define yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal?Political scientists and campaign strategists, however, almost universally dismiss self-identification and general sentiment surveys as functionally meaningless. Both academic investigation and hard-earned political experience tell us that attitudes about specific governmental programs are far more telling than asking people what labels or characterizations describe them best.
Libertarians, however, can take heart from the fact that political sentiment is moving their way in some areas. Gay rights, drug decriminalization, increasing outrage over heavy-handed police tactics, growing concern over an unjust legal system, disgust over crony capitalism, and opposition to military deployments abroad all suggest that libertarian arguments can have political force. But just because people buy libertarian arguments when it comes to civil liberties or foreign policy does not mean they are more likely to buy them on taxes, spending, or regulation. If they were, then Bernie Sanders Democrats would be Rand Paul Republicans.
Libertarians love to preach the virtues of markets. Yet in the marketplace of ideas, their bundled product has been regularly and thoroughly rejected for over a century.
Until libertarians acknowledge that market verdict and re-think either what theyre selling, how theyre selling it, or both, they will remain on the margins of American political life. And for friends of liberty, that would be a tragedy.
Jerry Taylor is the president of the Niskanen Center,a think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to the advancement of liberty and pragmatic policy solutions.
The collapse of Rand Paul and the libertarian moment that …
Sen. Rand Paul(Photo: The Courier-Journal)
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul emphasized the conservative libertarian themes that distinguish him from his rivalsin Wednesday night’s debate among leading Republicans seeking their party’s 2016 presidential nomination.
In a three-hour discussionthat also saw former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee give a spirited defense of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, Paul urged caution on military intervention in the Middle East, said the federal government should not override state laws on marijuana in states such as Colorado, and urged criminal justice reforms that emphasize rehabilitation over incarceration.
If you want boots on the ground, and you want them to be our sons and daughters, youve got 14 other choices, Paul said referring to the rest of the GOP field. He said the prolonged American military engagement in Iraq has proven to be a mistake. And Im not sending our sending our sons and our daughters back to Iraq.
Paul was among 11 candidates who took part in the prime time broadcast byCNN from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Four candidates who are trailing in the polls debated from the same stage in a program preceding the main event.
The themes emphasized by Paul are ones that mostly set him apart from the pack and ones he has not stressedin recent weeks as his standing in the polls has dropped.
Wednesday night he made clear his opposition to military intervention without clear authority and a clear goal.”I’m someone who believes in peace through strength,” he said in his closing statement. “…War is the last resort, not the first resort. And when we go to war, we go to war in a Constitutional way, which means that we have to vote on it, that war is initiated by Congress, not by the president. That we go to war reluctantly, but when we go to war we do not fight with one arm tied behind our back. We fight all-out to win.”
Paul tangled with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bushand New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on whether stronger federal laws on marijuana ought to be enforced over more liberal state laws in places like Colorado.
People going to jail for this are poor people, often African-Americans and often Hispanic …” Paul said. “Ipersonally think that this is a crime for which the only victim is the individual, and I think that America has to take a different attitude.”
Paul said, “I think the federal government has gone too far, I think the war on drugs has had a racialoutcome and really has been something thats really damaged our inner cities …SoI dont think the federal government should override the states.
Paul said another candidate on the panel who says he smoked pot in high school was being hypocritical on the issue. When asked to identify that person, Bush volunteered, “Fortyyears ago I smoked marijuana and I admit it. Im sure there are other people might have done it, may not want to admit it in front of 25 million people.”
Then Bush quipped, “My mom’s not happy that I just did.”
Huckabee accused the U.S. Supreme Court of “judicial tyranny” in its decision in June to legalize same-ex marriages, and said accommodations must be made to allow Davis to practice both her Christian faith and her job as Rowan County clerk.
“The court cannot legislate,” Huckabee said. “If the court can just make a decision and we just all surrender to it, we have what Jefferson said is judicial tyranny.”
Huckabee said the United States makes accommodations for criminals andMuslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay. “And you’re telling me that you can’t make an accommodation for an elected Democratic county clerkfrom Rowan County? What else is it other than the criminalization of her faith?”
As expected, the debate saw a clash between Paul andfrontrunner Donald Trump.What wasnt anticipatedwas that Trump would throw the first punch.
Rand Paul shouldnt even be on this stage, Trump said at the start of the debate, noting Paul’s low standing in the polls.Hes number 11.”
Actually Paul’s latest ranking in Real Clear Politics’ average of recent polls puts him in a tie for seventh place.
Paul replied by questioning Trump’s temperament – citing “sophomoric” quips Trump has made aboutthe physical appearance of his opponents. “Would we not all be worried to have someone like that in charge of our nuclear arsenal?
Trump got in the last word in this exchange, however, saying he had never criticized Paul’s looks, but “believe me, theres plenty of subject matter.
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Rand Paul returns to libertarian roots
Ronald Ernest Ron Paul was born on August 20th, 1935 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Howard Caspar Paul and Margaret ne Dumont. He is of strong German ancestry from both sides of his family. His paternal grandfather was an immigrant from Germany. His mother had both German and Irish blood.
Paul grew up in Pittsburgh, helping out in his fathers simple dairy business, maintaining a paper route, and serving in the local drug-store. He was encouraged to save his wages to help fund his college education. Paul showed a strong interest and aptitude for athletics, joining the track and wrestling teams of his school. He won the state championship for the220-yard dash in his junior year in high school. He was also active in the student council, showing strong leadership qualities and charisma early on as president of the high school student council.
He is a graduate of Gettysburg College with a B.S. degree in Biology, 1957. He pursued a Doctor of Medicine degree from Duke Universitys School of Medicine, graduating in 1961, then went on to complete his medical internship (Henry Ford Hospital Detroit) and residency in obstetrics/gynecology (Magee-Womens Hospital, Pittsburgh). Demonstrating his strong respect for military service, Paul proudly served his country as a flight surgeon in the United States Air Force after which followed his enlistment with the United States Air National Guard, all in the 1960s. He then established his private practice in Texas. He was known to decrease his professional-fees, and even sometimes to waive them altogether, in order to steer clear of Medicare or Medicaid payments.
Paul joined politics in 1971, becoming a delegate to the Texas Republican Convention. He ran for US Congress as a candidate for the Republican Party in 1974 against Democrat Robert R. Casey but failed in his bid for a seat. A couple of years later, when Representative Robert Casey received his appointment as head of the Federal Maritime Commission from President Gerald Ford, special elections were conducted to fill the post Casey vacated. Paul won the special election to fill that seat but was not able to hang on to his post when he lost the general election afterwards to Democrat Robert A. Gammage.
Paul won the seat again on his subsequent bid in 1978, in a rematch against Gammage. He was just as successful for re-elections in 1980 and 1982. Notching a first, he proposed term limit legislation for the House of Representatives. He cited this proposal when he refused to run for re-election later on. He did run for the US Senate in 1984 against Phil Gramm, was defeated, and went back to his practice as an obstetrician/gynaecologist on a full-time basis.
Running for President
But politics beckoned strongly. In 1988, Paul left the Republican Party and ran as the presidential candidate representing the Libertarian Party. His bids to lower taxes and reduce the size of the federal government ran parallel to the interests of the Libertarians. Differences in beliefs focused on issues of abortion as the party was strongly in favour of personal liberty, opposing restrictive laws on actions/lifestyles of individuals. Despite these differences, though, Paul earned the respect and support of the party.
His candidacy was seen by many to be more of an interest to put forward his libertarian ideas and thoughts than to in fact seriously pursue the presidency. He did not win, running behind George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis in the final results. This prompted him to return to his medical practice and other business enterprises.
In the middle of the 90s, Paul reunited with the Republicans. He sought to be nominated by the party for a seat in the House of Representatives. He ran against Greg Laughlin, who had the support of mainstream Republicans. Laughlin parted ways with the Democrats to join the Republicans amidst the Republican takeover of Congress. Laughlin tried to represent Pauls beliefs as extremist and unconventional. In spite of his slim chances, considering Laughlins strong hold over the Republicans, as well as the strong support coming Laughlins way from rich and influential groups the likes of the National Rifle Association, Paul defeated Laughlin. He won the primary and proceeded to win the 1996 general election.
People at the forefront of the Texan Republican Party made like efforts to dislodge Paul when he ran for re-elections in 1998. He remained undefeated. He ran for re-elections in 2000 and 2002, winning both bids. Nobody opposed him when he ran in 2004 for his ninth term in the Congress.
In 2006, the Democratic Party fielded Shane Sklar against Paul in his bid for re-election. Paul was able to retain his seat.
Second Attempt at the Presidency
In 2008, Paul decided to run for the presidency again but failed to make it to the finish, ending his run somewhat early in the game. Again, people thought Paul was more interested in using the campaign to endorse the issues close to his heart rather than seeing it as a passionate battle for the top office in the land. John McCain won the Republican nomination soon after. Some of his peers thought that Paul would pursue his bid, running either as an independent candidate or with the Libertarian Party but Paul thought otherwise. His support went to Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party.
Post contributed by Simon Greenwald. Apart from being a political writer, Simon is a part time ticket broker, built an iPhone app development company and is an avid surfer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Ron Paul | Download PDF
The Kentucky GOPs central committee voted Saturday to adopt a presidential caucus system next year, clearing the way Republican Sen. Rand Paul to run for president and reelection at the same time.
Paul, who is in his first term, had pushed Kentucky Republicans to move from a primary to a caucus system as a way to get around a state law forbidding candidates from appearing twice on the same ballot. He has pledged to pick up the tab for holding the caucuses, which could run $500,000 or more.
Story Continued Below
The motion to adopt a caucus system required a vote of at least two-thirds of the committee vote to pass. It was approved with 76 percent of the vote, according to a video of the announcement posted online, on the condition that Paul transfer $250,000 to a state GOP account next month. POLITICO reported this week that Paul told the member in a letter on Monday that he had transferred $250,000 into a state party account, but Paul had not actually done so.
Paul applauded the committees decision which still must be approved by the Republican National Committee after the vote.
The people of Kentucky deserve a voice as the GOP chooses their next nominee, and holding a caucus will ensure that Kentucky is relevant and participates early in the process, he said in a statement. I am also grateful for the Republican Partys trust in me, allowing me to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate and seek the nomination for the presidency of the United States.
The vote was also a victory for House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who had endorsed the switch to caucuses.
Look, all we cared about is giving Rand a chance in his presidential race, McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. Because of the peculiarities of Kentucky law, all I asked of him was to defray the cost and hes indicated hes going to do that and so I think well go ahead and do the nomination for president by caucus.
McConnells office declined to comment after the vote on Saturday.
A vote against switching to a caucus system likely wouldve prevented Paul from running for both offices in Kentucky. But Paul vowed before the vote on Saturday that he would continue his campaigns for the presidency, according to Sam Youngman, a political reporter for The Lexington Herald-Leader.
No matter what happens today, well be running for the presidency and well be running for reelection, Paul had told a crowd of about 50 outside the Frankfort, Ky., hotel where the meeting was taking place, according to Youngman.
The people of Kentucky deserve a voice as the GOP chooses their next nominee, and holding a caucus will ensure that Kentucky is relevant and participates early in the process. I am also grateful for the Republican Partys trust in me, allowing me to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate and seek the nomination for the Presidency of the United States,
Switching to a caucus system would not allow Paul to run for president and for reelection at the same time in the general election, but even Paul doesnt seem to believe theres much chance that hell end up as his partys nominee.
On a conference call with the central committee Thursday night, Paul put his odds of winning the nomination at only one in 10, The Herald-Leader reported.
Thats better than hes doing in the polls the latest RealClearPolitics polling average has him at 4.3 percent.
(Sergio Gor, a spokesman for Paul, disputed The Herald-Leaders characterization of what Paul said on the call in an email to POLITICO, saying he was referring to being one of 10 candidates on the debate stage rather than his chances of winning.)
Manu Raju contributed reporting.
By Eli Yokley Posted at 5:20 p.m. on Aug. 22
Republicans in the Bluegrass State will allow Rand Paul to both seek reelection and run for president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)
Kentucky Republicans voted Saturday to approve a presidential caucus a major victoryforSen. Rand Paul that will allow him to continue his quest forthe Republican presidential nomination andrun forre-election to the Senate next year.
The Kentucky Republican Party Central Committee approved the March 5 caucus by a 111-36 vote, with the caveat that Paul must put up half of the nearly$500,000 he promised to pay for it by Sept. 18.
Had only 14 committee members voted the other way, Pauls presidential campaign may have been in jeopardy.State law prohibits a candidates name appearing more than once on a ballot.
In a statement from his campaign, Paul praised the committee for its support.
Thepeople of Kentucky deserve a voice as the GOP chooses their next nominee, and holding a caucus will ensure that Kentucky is relevant and participates early in the process, he said. I am also grateful for the Republican Partys trust in me, allowing me to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate and seek the nomination for the Presidency of the United States.
The partys move drew immediate ire from Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic secretary of State, who said in a statement: It is unfortunate that today a few insiders were able to disenfranchise over 1.2 million Republican voters.
One candidate should not be able to buy an election, added Lundergan Grimes, who ran against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last year.
Aside from helping Paul, someKentucky Republicans hopea caucus in March willdraw attention to the states otherwise sleepy presidential primary, which would have come nearthe end of the cycle in May. The March caucus will come four days after the SEC primary, when eight southern states voteand couldexcite GOPvoters in a year when the partywill defending the Senate seat held by Paul and aspiringtotake back seats in the state legislature.
To the party, we look at having an energized base from something like this, saidDeanna Brangers, vice-chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party.There is never a year like a presidential year to increase enthusiasm.
The flip side, however, will bethe logistical challenges of organizing thepresidentialcaucus. In all 120 counties, local party chairs will have to help withbookingatleast one meeting room for the caucus meeting, finding dozens of volunteers it takes to run the eventand making sure voters used to going to their local precinct know howto find their caucus location.
It is very taxing, she said.
The caucus was supported by McConnell. As voting was about to commence, his state director, Terry Carmack, rose to remind committee membersof McConnells support.
Before the vote, Paul told reporters, No matter what happens today, well be running for the presidency and well be running for re-election.
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For Rand Paul, A Kentucky Caucus Is A Major Victory
The sparring between Donald Trump and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has escalated since their performance on the GOP debate stage last week, spilling over onto the airwaves and newspapers as Trump calls for Paul to quit the race.
Trump has issued an aggressive response to an ad Paul released that attacks the billionaire businessman by questioning his conservative credentials.
The ad, to be played in New Hampshire and Iowa through the weekend, has footage of Trump saying, “I’ve been around for a long time, and it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than Republicans I identify more as a Democrat.” Story continues below video.
“Rand Paul is doing so poorly in the polls he has to revert to old footage of me discussing positions I no longer hold. As a world-class businessman who built one of the great companies with some of the most iconic real estate assets in the world, it was my obligation, my company, my employees, and myself, to maintain a strong relationship with all politicians, whether Republican or Democrat. I did that and I did that well,” Trump said in a statement to The Washington Post.
He described his evolution in his political views, using the example of Ronald Reagan who evolved from a liberal Democrat to a conservative Republican.
Trump goes on to mention that he beat Paul at a round of golf then donated to the eye center Paul is affiliated with.
“I feel sorry for the great people of Kentucky who are being used as a backup to Senator Paul’s hopeless attempt to become president of the United States weak on the military, Israel, the vets, and many other issues. Sen. Paul has no chance of winning the nomination and the people of Kentucky should not allow him the privilege of remaining their senator.
“Rand should save his lobbyist’s and special interest money and just go quietly home.”
A Paul campaign strategist fired off a response for the Post.
“First, Ronald Reagan spent 20 years as a conservative before running for president, not 20 minutes. He changed out of conviction,” said Doug Stafford, Paul’s chief strategist, in a statement to the Post.
Originally posted here:
Trump Tells Rand Paul to ‘Just Go Quietly Home’ After …
Statement of Faith
We live in times of great uncertainty when men of faith must stand up for our values and our traditions lest they be washed away in a sea of fear and relativism. As you likely know, I am running for President of the United States, and I am asking for your support.
I have never been one who is comfortable talking about my faith in the political arena. In fact, the pandering that typically occurs in the election season I find to be distasteful. But for those who have asked, I freely confess that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior, and that I seek His guidance in all that I do. I know, as you do, that our freedoms come not from man, but from God. My record of public service reflects my reverence for the Natural Rights with which we have been endowed by a loving Creator.
I have worked tirelessly to defend and restore those rights for all Americans, born and unborn alike. The right of an innocent, unborn child to life is at the heart of the American ideal of liberty. My professional and legislative record demonstrates my strong commitment to this pro-life principle.
In 40 years of medical practice, I never once considered performing an abortion, nor did I ever find abortion necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. In Congress, I have authored legislation that seeks to define life as beginning at conception, H.R. 1094. I am also the prime sponsor of H.R. 300, which would negate the effect of Roe v Wade by removing the ability of federal courts to interfere with state legislation to protect life. This is a practical, direct approach to ending federal court tyranny which threatens our constitutional republic and has caused the deaths of 45 million of the unborn. I have also authored H.R. 1095, which prevents federal funds to be used for so-called “population control.” Many talk about being pro-life. I have taken and will continue to advocate direct action to restore protection for the unborn.
I have also acted to protect the lives of Americans by my adherence to the doctrine of “just war.” This doctrine, as articulated by Augustine, suggested that war must only be waged as a last resort— for a discernible moral and public good, with the right intentions, vetted through established legal authorities (a constitutionally required declaration of the Congress), and with a likely probability of success.
It has been and remains my firm belief that the current United Nations-mandated, no-win police action in Iraq fails to meet the high moral threshold required to wage just war. That is why I have offered moral and practical opposition to the invasion, occupation and social engineering police exercise now underway in Iraq. It is my belief, borne out by five years of abject failure and tens of thousands of lost lives, that the Iraq operation has been a dangerous diversion from the rightful and appropriate focus of our efforts to bring to justice to the jihadists that have attacked us and seek still to undermine our nation, our values, and our way of life.
I opposed giving the president power to wage unlimited and unchecked aggression, However, I did vote to support the use of force in Afghanistan. I also authored H.R. 3076, the September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001. A letter of marque and reprisal is a constitutional tool specifically designed to give the president the authority to respond with appropriate force to those non-state actors who wage aggression against the United States while limiting his authority to only those responsible for the atrocities of that day. Such a limited authorization is consistent with the doctrine of just war and the practical aim of keeping Americans safe while minimizing the costs in blood and treasure of waging such an operation.
On September 17, 2001, I stated on the house floor that “striking out at six or eight or even ten different countries could well expand this war of which we wanted no part. Without defining the enemy there is no way to know our precise goal or to know when the war is over. Inadvertently more casual acceptance of civilian deaths as part of this war I’m certain will prolong the agony and increase the chances of even more American casualties. We must guard against this if at all possible.” I’m sorry to say that history has proven this to be true.
I am running for president to restore the rule of law and to stand up for our divinely inspired Constitution. I have never voted for legislation that is not specifically authorized by the Constitution. As president, I will never sign a piece of legislation, nor use the power of the executive, in a manner inconsistent with the limitations that the founders envisioned.
North Carolina for Ron Paul!
Rand Pauls presidential campaign, by many recent accounts, is sputtering. The candidate, according to the Atlantics Molly Ball, is flailing. His campaign, reports National Journals Josh Kraushaar, has been called a disaster.
These judgments, even if true, are provisional. Pretty much any candidate in the Republican pack is one killer debate performance, one strong poll result, one especially good fundraising report away from a narrative of resurgence.
But there is little question that the initial, ineffable appeal of the Paul campaign has faded. In March 2013, when Paul filibustered against the governments possible use of Hellfire missiles to murder civilians in San Francisco cafes and Houston restaurants this seemed to make sense to some people at the time many conservatives were swept away. His voice, once lonely, wrote Noah Rothman, grew in stature. … It was poetic. It was romantic.
Compare this with Pauls recent filibuster of the Patriot Act. The Senate gallery was staged with supporters wearing Stand With Rand T-shirts. Pauls online campaign store offered a filibuster starter pack for $30, including a spy blocker for your computers video camera and a shirt reading The NSA knows I bought this Rand Paul tshirt. Pauls Senate colleagues found themselves dragged into the middle of an infomercial. And many were not pleased.
Once it was Mr. Smith goes to Washington. Now it is Mr. Smith uses Senate procedure to conduct a fundraising campaign on a national security issue that he distorts to serve his political interests.
Sen. Rand Paul, (R-Ky.), who announced he’s running for president in 2016, is known for his belief in limited government. Here his take on Obamacare, the Constitution and more, in his own words. (Julie Percha/The Washington Post)
The romance is gone. The bitterness and conspiratorial hints remain. Paul recently blamed the rise of the Islamic State on Republican hawks. Under pressure, Paul conceded, I could have stated it better. But this was a gaffe of excessive clarity. Pauls foreign policy libertarianism is founded on the belief that an aggressively fought war against terrorism actually produces terrorism that the United States has somehow earned the enmity it faces.
And Pauls accusation goes further. People here in [Washington] think Im making a huge mistake, he said on the Senate floor. Some of them I think secretly want there to be an attack on the United States so they can blame it on me.
Paul likes to present himself as a voice of reason and outreach. But he is prone to rhetorical recklessness. Which of Pauls rivals, in this case, would be secretly pleased about the killing of Americans if it helped justify a political argument? Any names? Paul, by his account, is facing not only opponents but monsters.
According to Paul, it is hawks and neocons who glory for war, who really think wars always the answer. Some, as weve seen, secretly want there to be an attack on the United States. Sen. John McCain wants 15 wars more. Paul has accused former vice president Dick Cheney of supporting the Iraq war in order to benefit his former employer, Halliburton. Pauls charges are often nasty, often ad hominem, often involve the questioning of motives. In democratic discourse, this type of argument is a conversation stopper. How can you find agreement with scheming warmongers?
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The romance with Rand Paul is gone – The Washington Post
If anyone ought to be well positioned in the current, fractured Republican field, its Rand Paul. The Kentucky senators libertarian stances make him stand out from the pack, and his supporters were supposed to give him a solid base that he could expand by appealing to more traditional Republicans.
But instead, Paul seems to be flailing, and fighting for space in the crowded GOP landscape. Hes tied for fourth place in the average of national polls, fifth in Iowa, third in New Hampshire. His fundraising isnt going wellhes even been frozen out by the top donor to his father, the former Texas congressman Ron Paul. Hes struggling to earn the backing of his fathers rank and file supporters, as well. And while Rand Pauls recent maneuvers in the Senate succeeded in derailing renewal of the Patriot Act, they also served to highlight the unpopularity of his national-security positions within his partyand the stunt got far less buzz than the 2013 filibuster that made him a hero to many conservatives.
Inside and around the campaign, there is a sense that things are not going as well as hoped for Paul, multiple sources told me. They are in a challenging spot right now, said one Republican operative with knowledge of the campaign. They are having a hard time reaching out to new constituencies while keeping the base happy. The problem, the operative said, is that Pauls flip-flopping and triangulation have damaged his reputation for ideological purity. Senator Paul appears, in the minds of Republicans, to have gone from a guy who was standing on principle, who wanted to do things, to a politician who wants to be something, the operative said.
A different GOP strategist put it more succinctly to National Journals Josh Kraushaar, calling the Paul campaign a disaster.
Why is Paul having such a hard time? Partly it is because the crowded field he thought would give him an advantage includes several conservative candidates appealing to a similar pool of votersfrom the firebrand Ted Cruz to social conservative Mike Huckabee to neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Partly it is the shifting landscape of key issues, which has put foreign policy front and center. (National security and terrorism recently became the No. 1 concern of GOP primary voters, and 57 percent of them want an approach that is more aggressive, not less, according to a recent Pew survey.) And partly it is a matter of flawed strategic assumptionsa campaign that believed it could build a coalition of different kinds of voters based on the candidates various facets is finding it may instead be a zero-sum game.
Just a few months ago, some were calling Paul the early frontrunner for the nomination. The many moderate and establishment-oriented candidates, Paul himself theorized, would split the partys more traditional voters, allowing Paul to consolidate conservatives. Paul was by far the most aggressive candidate in building a campaign infrastructure, constructing a 50-state network that was in place more than a year ago. Meanwhile, he courted traditional big-money donors, schmoozing confabs like Mitt Romneys Utah donor retreat as he sought to prove he was less of a loose cannonsome might say gadflythan his father. In a March 2014 national poll of Republican primary voters, he placed first with 16 percent of the vote.
Paul started early because he was hoping to lock in support while other potential candidates were still making up their minds. He paid his first visits to Iowa and New Hampshire in the spring of 2013. He vigorously courted social conservatives with a message that linked personal liberty to religious liberty and emphasized his opposition to abortion. In the 2012 Iowa caucuses, Ron Paul came in third, with 21 percent of the vote; he came in second in New Hampshire, with 23 percent. Rand Pauls advisers figured he would naturally appeal to those voters as the closest thing in the field to Ron Paul, and could quickly vault to the front by building on that base.
But polling averages now put Paul under 9 percent in Iowa and around 12 percent in New Hampshire. Paul gets 9 percent of the Republican primary vote nationally, on average, the same amount of support as Carson and behind Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio. Polls at this stage arent at all predictive of how the race will actually shake out, but they are a barometer of Republican activists current sentiment. What they show is that, despite Pauls early organizational efforts and his supposed claim on liberty-minded Republicans, the percentage of voters ready to commit to him is smalland rather than building it up, he may be watching it shrink.
Ron Pauls supporters, a finicky and purist bunch, have proved less transferable to Rand Paul than the campaign assumed. In Iowa, several prominent former Ron Paul supporters, including state Senator Jason Schultz, are backing Cruz. This week, the New York Times reported that Rand Paul was beginning to win over some formerly leery Ron Paul fansa strikingly late conversion of a group he thought he could take for granted. Many Ron Paul supporters have been alienated by Rand Pauls gestures to the establishment, particularly his partnership with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose reelection he endorsed and campaigned for last year. In blocking the reauthorization of the Patriot Act last week, Paul antagonized McConnell, but won points with libertarians for proving he could stand up to the leader.
Unlike Pauls 2013 filibuster against drones, which brought him wide acclaim and highlighted his political creativity, his speech on surveillance last week was largely viewed as a political stunt aimed at thrusting him into the spotlight and goosing his lagging fundraising. Thats perhaps inevitablePaul is a candidate now, as he wasnt the last timeand perhaps unfair, as he has a long track record on the issue. But it highlights how his image has changed, from that of a passion-driven truth-teller, like his father, to that of a politically minded triangulator. Confronted with the accusation, Paul displayed another unfortunate tendency by lashing out at his critics, saying that those who oppose him secretly want there to be an attack on the United States so they can blame it on me. (He later backed off and acknowledged that the statement was hyperbole.)
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Rand Paul’s Struggling Presidential Campaign – The Atlantic