While the mainstream media and political elite can't wait for their dream 2016 presidential match-up of Jeb Bush vs. HIllary Clinton, Senator Rand Paul has other ideas.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that Paul wants to run and has focused on splitting the difference between libertarianism and the Republican mainstream. But by straddling the fence, Paul will please neither faction he is trying desperately to court. Rather than using this approach, Paul should embrace the libertarian populism his father championed, raise hell in the Senate and in the primaries, and offer Americans a truly independent and nonpartisan choice in 2016.
Paul is focusing on changing the brand and face of the Republican party, and in doing so, is clashing with the likes of former Vice President Dick Cheney, his daughter Liz, and Jeb Bush for not being as appropriately aggressive and imperialist as any good Republican should be.
Recently, Mother Jones unearthed a 2009 video of the Kentucky senator giving a speech at at Western Kentucky University excorciating Cheney for his support for the Iraq War, claiming that Cheney switched his mind on the wisdom of the war after he worked for Halliburton.
Mother Jones, a left-liberal magazine most likely interested in splitting up the Republicans than endorsing Paul, may have accidentally helped give Paul the strategy that he needs to win the presidency in 2016. So, please left-wing blogosphere, unearth more old Paul footage!
Rand Paul became Senator against highly unlikely odds, beating a much more popular and heavily-funded candidate by using the same libertarian populism that made his dad - former Congressman Ron Paul - so popular. The 2009 footage of Paul was the standard for him at the time; anti-war, shooting arrows at the political establishment, and not afraid to ruffle feathers.
But since then, libertarians have been incredibly frustrated with Paul for many of the positions he has taken and on his stubborn insistence on trying to balance the fence between his father's views and more convential Republican views. The result? He has alienated his most important voting bloc and proved that the Cheney-Bush-Christie wing of the party wants nothing to do with him no matter how much wiggle room he gives them.
Paul has been wishy-washy and very unlibertarian on Iran sanctions, Guantanamo, Israel and their occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and actually criticized President Obama for his proposal to cut Tomahawk missiles from the budget. And let's not forget that he endorsed Mitt Romney over his father while the GOP was still scrambling to keep his father out of the convention. We libertarians have a long memory.
And what has Paul got out of these mealy-mouthed positions, straddling the fence, and splitting the difference between his father's pure libertarianism and the warhawks in the rest of the party? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. They still hate him. As far as they're concerned, no matter how much he sucks up to them, he will never be anything other than his father.
It's either global empire and unlimited government, or nothing at all. This is a bargain not worth any man's soul.
When Paul is at his best, it is when he uses that same libertarian populism that got him elected. Last year, people of all political persuasions lept at the chance to #StandWithRand when he delivered a 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor against President Obama's lawless drone warfare policies and indefinite detention. Last month, Berkelely liberals gave this Kentucky Republican a standing ovation for his attacks on the NSA and the surveillance state in general.
When Paul defends peace and the Bill of Rights - just like his dad always did, uncompromisingly, for forty years - people love him!
Senator Paul will never take my advice, of course, but he should embrace the fiery radicalness from the Mother Jones video, not run from it, and stop once-for-all placating the neocons, warhawks, torturers, and big government Republicans that would love to unseat him any way they can for even the slightest deviation of their party line.
Paul should use his Senate bully pulpit to focus every second of every day filibustering, calling attention to, and opposing all of the horrible things the U.S. government is doing overseas; torture, JSOC death squads in virtually every country, expanding NATO eastward, coups, sanctions, the drug war, and drones. In other words, Paul should focus his time solely on the most elementary and fundamental use of state power: war in all of its forms.
David Boaz at the Cato Institute argues that libertarianism is "surging," but I have to disagree. If polls mean anything, the American people definitely agree with libertarians in wanting a more restrained foreign policy, and Paul is the perfect candidate to give that to them.
But when it comes to full-scale libertarianism, I have severe doubts that people would want or be ready for it. All the arguments in the world about the immorality of institutionalized coercion that embodies the state matter little to the millions of people dependent on that institution for their careers or even their survival.
Forget about food stamps, Medicare, or Medicaid; like it or not, the welfare state is hundreds of trillions of dollars in debt and will collapse under its own weight. Let it fall, it deserves to. I have always argued that libertarians should focus on foreign policy and civil liberties - the real blade of state power - and lead by example on what a free society will look like. Thanks to the technology and power that has been unleashed by the free market, we now can.
The Free State Project in New Hampshire is building a free society one mover at a time and has already spawned similar movements all around the country in North Carolina and Texas. More will follow. While the dollar loses its value and is used to fund the empire, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not only providing us a means to exchange value with each other in a truly free market but also to build integrated charity networks and feed and clothe the homeless.*
We have the tools now to circumvent state power and build our own communities of consent and societies built on liberty. Homeschool and/or unschool your children. If you get on a jury, keep nullification on the table. Take Lyfts to local farmers markets to buy organic produce in privately-secured neighborhoods. This is how peaceful order arises.
The political process will never yeild us these results, only direct action will. That way, when people respond to libertarians with predictable and valid objections, we have tangible answers to point to. And in the mean time, the state will continue to reveal its true colors all around us every time it inevitably resorts to the iron fist that lie at as the heart, soul, and blade of all state action.
So please, Senator Paul, stop sucking up the GOP. You might get a few more votes that way, but how many libertarians would there be if your father had caved and compromised? Run for president for the sole purpose of dismantling the U.S. empire, repealing the last ten years of "anti-terrorism" legislation, and restoring the Bill of Rights.
If you do that, you'll have my vote. Then we libertarians will do the rest.
*Coincidentally, the state's reaction to Bitcoiners charity in helping the homeless in Florida? Threats and violence.