For many conservatives and libertarians, Senator Rand Paul has been a controversial topic over the last few years. As the son of former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, he already had his libertarian credentials solidified before he even started. Upon entering the Senate, he has pushed legislation to advance a number of pro-liberty goals and bring together coalitions on specific issues. He has been a negotiator, more so than his father was in his Congressional career.
Senator Paul also has an integrity issue.
Whereas his father never caved to the Republican Party, his son regularly has backed up the party. Past endorsements include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, as well as Senator Susan Collins who has recently made a name for herself pushing compromise gun control legislation.
While one must respect the need to make peace with the political establishment, at what cost does this occur?
Romney isn’t known for his principled consistency. As a United States Senate candidate, he tried to win by running to the left of Ted Kennedy, where he held liberal views on issues like abortion and gun control. These views only changed when it became politically necessary, but even as governor, he signed an assault weapons ban and had the “Romneycare” law to his credit.
And Senator Paul wanted this as President?
In terms of Senator Collins, she has always been a ready defender of big government, supporting legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act. More recently, she’s supporting anti-Fifth Amendment gun control legislation being sold as a “compromise.” The legislation bans suspected terrorists on a government watchlist from being able to buy a gun without due process of law, and because they are merely suspected, the Federal Bureau of Investigation would be notified of this activity. The big sell in the compromise is the ability of citizens wrongly placed on a list to appeal it, but they are essentially guilty until proven innocent.
And Senator Paul supports this, as well?
Herein lies the problem with Senator Paul’s career thus far. There is an argument in favor of pragmatism and in terms of legislative success, he is likely more successful than his father. Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul was known more for his positions and his consistency than career legislative success. That’s not to say Ron Paul was bad, he wasn’t. But failure to be pragmatic can cost political leverage.
This seemed to be the point of Senator Paul, who has embraced pragmatism and keeping the Republican elite happy.
But pragmatism doesn’t work for conservatives and libertarians, because it only results in getting used. Senator Paul kept a lot of people happy building for his presidential candidacy, with the belief among many that this would boost his run. The unfortunate reality is that libertarianism, whether it be more stern like Ron Paul’s or more pragmatic like his son’s, will never be embraced by the Republican elite. Never.
Senator Rand Paul was used.
Senator Paul became the political establishment’s mercenary against Donald Trump, devoting much of his campaign to complaining about him. This only aided people like Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Now Senator Paul is faced with either standing by his word to not support Trump or standing by his word to support the Republican nominee, both conflicted positions that will make him a hypocrite in the end.
Senator Rand Paul still has a lot of political years ahead. It’s time to restart the image and stop playing nice with the Republican Party. The pragmatism failed. Dig in like Ron Paul did and in the next presidential election, the liberty movement might make it past Iowa.