Blogs > Liberty and Power > Rand Paul is No Libertarian

Feb 9, 2010 10:54 pm

Rand Paul is No Libertarian

My title is misleading. In contrast to Glenn Beck, Rand Paul does not claim to be a libertarian. Even so, many libertarians had hoped that he had genuine libertarian tendencies. This first advertisement for his U.S. Senate campaign, however, is quite simply terrible. It not only panders to the darkest side of American conservatism but to the basest emotions of voters.

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David T. Beito - 2/10/2010

Leaving aside your other points for a minute, I simply don't think this strategy will work. First, it will arrive away potential donors from Paul's most dedicated base. I gave a couple of thoussand to Ron Paul but won't give a penny to this campaign as it stands now. Second, the commercial will merely be drowned out by similar commercials from other candidates. Voters who like commercials like this have plenty of other candidates to choose from. It certainly didn't work when the Ron Paul campaign ran similar advertisements in Iowa and New Hampshire. The common denominator in both cases was the misguided Jesse Benton, campaign mananger from both campaigns.

IMHO, a more promising approach is for Paul to play to his strengths: the popular revulsion against big government, government health care, and debt. Please note that this commercial was the first one for the Rand Paul campaign so it very much sets the tone.

Richard Clark - 2/10/2010

"Pandering" is not unlibertarian per se. After all, radical libertarians don't have any special regard for voting, which is an exercise that mostly acts to enhance the state's control the people, not the people's control of the state.

And political ads say more about what a campaign has concluded about the composition of its voter base than about what the candidate personally believes. As an ancap, I don't think there is anything wrong with lying to get into office. We can only judge Rand Paul's actions in office once he is there. There is no harm in his pandering, though, since he doesn't bill himself as a libertarian.

His campaign, probably correctly, arrived at the conclusion that such images would be appealing to voters in Kentucky. Thinking that this empirical analysis has anything to do with anybody's theory of justice is a mistake.