Rand Paul’s recent blow out victory and well-received speech at CPAC solidifies his position as a serious contender for the US presidency in 2016. Contrary to what one may think, this does not bode well for the prospects of liberty. A Rand Paul presidency would be long-term disastrous for liberty.
Damned if he Doesn’t
This would clearly be true if he was perceived as failing in office. A Paul presidency would be widely considered as a trial run for libertarianism. A failure of a Paul administration would be seen as a failure of libertarianism.
This would be true in spite of the fact that he has tried to distance himself from the term, and frame himself as a conservative. His connection to his father Ron Paul, who is the world’s most prominent libertarian, indelibly paints him as a libertarian in public perception.
And this would be true regardless of whether Paul is faithful to libertarian principles while in office. If a big-government president like Ronald Reagan can be remembered by history as small-government, then surely Rand Paul will be.
Libertarianism is getting a hearing right now. After an unpopular Paul presidency, that hearing will be over; perhaps never to be resumed.
And it is fairly likely that he would indeed fail. He has shown a willingness to sell out for political expediency, as repeatedly documented by Robert Wenzel. He will not likely have the nerve (or the ability, for that matter, considering all the vested interests and political opposition involved) to do the pruning of the state (abolishing the Federal Reserve, dismantling the empire, disestablishing the welfare state) that is necessary to avert a crisis.
Damned if he Does
It’s less obviously true that liberty will be set back if his presidency is considered successful. But it still is indeed true.
The imperial central state based in Washington, D.C. is on the ropes now. It has suffered failure upon failure, and exposé upon exposé. “Isolationist,” localist, and anarchist thought are all increasingly popular. If the U.S. Federal government keeps letting everyone down and outraging the world with its crimes, its power will evaporate, and a much more decentralized and liberalized world will emerge.
A successful Rand Paul presidency would be Washington’s savior. Washington will then be seen as “not so bad, provided that a good person is at the helm.” Any movement for a radical devolution of power in society will have the wind completely taken out of its sails.
A successful small-government administration in Washington may give big-government philosophy a black eye for the time being. But this will just be kicking the can down the road. The Washington apparatus of centralized power will have survived. And it will only be a matter of time before it is manned again by people who want to run it at full-throttle.
Don’t give leviathan a new lease on life. And don’t risk the prestige of libertarianism by wedding it with power. Oppose the presidential campaign of Rand Paul, or of any libertarian.