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The Strange Death of Libertarianism

Saturday, January 16, 2016 23:35
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This moment could very well be the death rattle of the ill-conceived Rand Paul presidential campaign:

“Rand Paul says he’s going to spend “every waking hour” trying to stop Donald Trump from getting the Republican nomination, saying Trump as the nominee would guarantee a Republican loss in the general election.

“Think if we, the Republican Party, becomes the party of angry people, that insinuate that most immigrants are drug dealers or rapists, that’s a terrible direction for our party,” the Kentucky senator and presidential candidate told the Alan Colmes Show on Thursday. “We are never going to grow as a party, we are never going to increase our vote among the Hispanic population, the black population, among women, all of those things we need to expand our party, Donald Trump takes us in the wrong direction.

“He would be a disaster,” he added. “We’ll be, we’ll be slaughtered, in a landslide. That’s why my every waking hour is to try to stop Donald Trump from being our nominee.”

It is not often that get the chance to watch a major political movement commit suicide on the national stage, but there is no other way to describe what has happened over the past few years to Rand Paul and his followers in the “Liberty Movement.”

Looking backward, I remember the excitement that Ron Paul’s insurgent campaign generated in 2008 at Takimag. I think of all the people I know who supported Ron Paul again in the 2012 election virtually all of whom are on board the Trump Train in 2016. In fact, I voted for Ron Paul in 2008 Republican primary and supported his candidacy again on this website well into the 2012 Republican primaries.

Here are a series of posts from the OD archives and elsewhere which illustrate how the wheels began to come off the Ron Paul/Rand Paul campaigns:

The Alternative Right: A White Nationalist Perspective – In November 2009, I noted that “the only reason Ron Paul succeeded to the extent that he did is because he was “the candidate of a broader populist coalition that swelled his support beyond his traditional libertarian base” and “the Alternative Right would be foolish to swallow Ron Paul’s libertarian kool aid. It was a disaster in 2008. Paul significantly underperformed winning issues – bringing the troops home, ending abortion, enforcing immigration laws, abolishing affirmative action. He talked endlessly about libertarian abstractions – and lost. In contrast, winners like Huckabee and Obama appealed to the identities of their voters.”

House of Paul – In August 2010, I made a distinction between “natural libertarians” and “ideological libertarians” when Ron Paul published an editorial attacking opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque as sunshine patriots and demagogues. I was impressed that Rand Paul took the opposite position in that dispute.

Ron Paul’s Latest Gaffes – In December 2010, Ron Paul had been in the news for silly stuff like supporting the Ground Zero Mosque, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal, and opposing the censure of Charlie Rangel.

“Worse than A Crime—A Blunder”: Ron Paul`s Tragic Turnaround On Immigration – In hindsight, the folly of Ron Paul’s embrace of the left-libertarian position on immigration in the 2012 presidential campaign was telegraphed in his book Liberty Defined which was negatively reviewed by VDARE in April 2011.

Ron Paul – Border Fence Not The Answer – In the October 2011 Republican debates, Ron Paul claimed the criminal justice system suffers from instututional racism against blacks and opposed building a border fence.

New York Times Attacks Ron Paul – In December 2011, I was ready to support Ron Paul in the 2012 election over his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Ron Paul Wins Younger Voters in Iowa – In January 2012, Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucus by 34 votes, and Ron Paul carried 21 percent of the vote. I used the exit polls to breakdown the demographics of the voters who had supported Ron Paul.

Ron Paul Wins Younger Voters in New Hampshire – A few days later, Ron Paul came in second in the New Hampshire primary with 22.9 percent of the vote. Once again, I broke down the demographics of Paul’s supporters.

Ron Paul Wins Younger Voters in South Carolina – A few weeks after New Hampshire, Ron Paul came in fourth in the South Carolina primary with 13 percent of the vote. As in Iowa and New Hampshire, I used the exit polls to break down the demographics of Ron Paul’s supporters.

Official: Gingrich Wins South Carolina Primary – At the time, I was bewildered that Ron Paul didn’t run in South Carolina on his support for the Confederate flag.

Over the next two weeks, Ron Paul lost the Florida primary and the Nevada caucuses, which is the exact moment when I lost interest in Ron Paul. Such was my disillusionment with Ron Paul’s refusal to run a campaign on winning issues – for the second time – that I spent the rest of February writing about black history.

On February 1, three days before the Nevada caucuses, Ron Paul was in Las Vegas where he compared the US Border Patrol to the Gestapo in cucking for the Hispanic vote:

“LAS VEGAS — Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul outlined his views on immigration Wednesday, saying he favors a compassionate policy that doesn’t rely on “barbed-wire fences and guns on our border.”

Paul spoke to several dozen people organized by Hispanics in Politics, Nevada’s oldest Hispanic community group. The Texas congressman has scheduled several days of campaigning in Nevada before the state’s caucuses Saturday.

Paul went into much greater detail on immigration policy than he has at most of his campaign stops. He typically steers clear of discussing rights for specific groups of people, insisting that his libertarian-leaning views apply to everyone as individuals.

But in Nevada, which is 26 percent Hispanic, Paul outlined an immigration policy far outside the Republican mainstream.

Paul blasted politicians who blame immigrants for causing the country’s economic problems. He compared the situation to Nazi Germany’s targeting of Jews in the 1930s.

“When things go badly, individuals look for scapegoats,” Paul said. “Hispanics, the immigrants who have come in, are being used as scapegoats.”

Paul said he doesn’t support illegal immigration and said people who break the law should be punished. But he said he opposes any effort to round people up and ship them away.

“If an individual is found to be breaking the law, serious consideration should be given for them to return. But I would think 99 percent of people who come here come because they believe in the American dream,” Paul said to applause.

Paul decried a punitive border policy, which said offended his belief in individual liberty.

“The one thing I have resisted and condemned: I do not believe that barbed-wire fences and guns on our border will solve any of our problems,” he said.

Paul also said he was against laws that require immigrants to carry proof of legal status. He says he doesn’t want to live in a country where people are required to carry identity papers.

“You say, ‘Well, this is only for illegals.’ That’s a bunch of baloney,” Paul said. “How do you sort out illegals from legals? Unless you put papers and identification on everybody.”

Hispanics in Nevada have favored Democrats over Republicans in recent election years — a full 74 percent of Hispanics supported President Barack Obama in 2008 over GOP rival John McCain.

But Fernando Cortes, Paul’s director of Hispanic outreach in Nevada, said many Hispanic voters had shown interest in Paul’s message.

“They’re always pandered to by the left and ignored by the right,” Cortes said of Hispanic voters. “They’re very motivated by the wanting of freedom back and a sound economy.”

In hindsight, that campaign stop in Las Vegas was a definitive turning point for many of the populist and nationalist voters who had hitherto supported Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012. The CNN entrance polls show that 90 percent of the voters who participated in the 2012 Republican Nevada caucuses were White and only 5 percent were Latino. Mitt Romney, who was running as an immigration hawk on a self-deportation platform, beat Ron Paul with 50 percent to 18.73 percent of the vote.

On March 13, 2012, I voted for Mitt Romney in the Alabama Republican Primary. By that point, I felt that Ron Paul had thoroughly discredited his campaign and that it was more important to stop Gingrich and Santorum. I had also lost interest in the race and reported on it only because so many commentators continued to support Romney. Within days of Romney losing to Obama, Rand Paul was all over television talking about how the Republican Party needed to win the Hispanic vote and reassure Hispanics that no one was going to deport millions of illegal aliens.

Clearly, the Rand 2016 electoral strategy had been formulated before Romney’s defeat and was ready to go. It was a colossal failure that relied on the conventional wisdom to explain Romney’s loss, not Ron Paul’s failure in the primaries in 2008 and 2012. It not only failed to expand Ron Paul’s base, but absolutely destroyed it. Everything that followed had already been conceived by November 2012.

Rand Paul comically branded himself a “Detroit Republican,” condemned the cops in Ferguson, cucked for comprehensive immigration reform, and most famously allowed the media to publicly geld his underling Jack Hunter. Along the way, the mainstream media threw out little doggie treats of praise whenever Rand Paul adopted a new liberal position – Time called Rand Paul “the most interesting man in politics” – while he became more and more repulsive to his Ron Paul’s former supporters.

It was inevitable that the populist, pro-White Alt Right that supported Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012 and who hated PC and who saw the Jack Hunter fiasco unfold would defect en masse to Trump. Osama bin Laden was right when he observed, “when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.”

Rand Paul and Jack Hunter killed the Ron Paul brand. They watered it down. They consistently projected an aura of weakness – whether it was on cops and thugs, cultural decadence, foreign policy, political correctness, or border security. In the process, Rand Paul literally fell off the presidential stage and was reduced to tilting at windmills in Twitter town halls. He won’t get a fraction of the Ron Paul vote in 2008 and 2012.

What comes next after Rand Paul’s disastrous presidential campaign? Will libertarianism go back to the Rothbard playbook? Will it continue to circle the electoral drain with Rand Paul and Nick Gillespie supporting another Gary Johnson candidacy?


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