What Rand Paul’s Endorsement Is and Isn’t
Sen. Rand Paul’s endorsement of Mitt Romney as Republican candidate for President has formed a crack in the Paulista universe. The vast majority of Ron Paul supporters, save an actual poll, are clearly rejecting the move as a sign that after all of their hard work, donations and success Rand has abandoned his base and sold out to the political establishment. Just take a look at his Facebook page, yikes.
One example of the outrage: “NWO has a brand new tool in their toolbox. How could you?”
Ron Paul by any measurement led the libertarian movement out of the political wilderness. For decades he remained stalwart in his advocacy of the Constitution often being a lone voice of reason amidst calls for war, bank bailouts, undermining civil liberties and growth of national government. Similarly his son has espoused these beliefs with the same vigor in his brief time in the Senate and has often been found willing to debate the finer points of libertarian philosophy while it may not often be popular.
The Pauls have been rock stars of a young, growing and vibrant liberty movement, which has proven capable of dismantling and remaking anachronistic state GOP leadership in their own image. The Paulistas, while rancorous at times and buying wholesale into a very cynical view of their government, have displayed adept political maneuverability in securing more delegates than anyone thought possible.
The Ron Paul Revolution has tapped into a sustainable and vigorous movement while simultaneously creating a home replete with models of representation for moderates, disaffected liberals and disgruntled conservatives. Why then would Rand endorse the personification of establishment politics?
First, lets make clear that what Rand Paul has not done, which is hurt the liberty movement. The recent success of Ron Paul has shown the growing power of this faction of new politics. The Ron Paul Republican is here to stay and that’s why you won’t see Ron Paul endorse Mitt Romney. The brand is secure, however, there is some politics left to play – and this is all about politics.
The Paul strategy is quite clear – graft healthy philosophy onto a dying system.
There is a reason why Rand chose Sean Hannity’s Fox News program to announce. It is one of the most watched shows on television and the platform is directed right into the homes of moderates and the full breadth of the conservative establishment. His intended audience was the GOP not his base, which looked at objectively is a small, but growing part Republican politics.
From Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post:
In making clear that [Rand Paul] is publicly behind Romney, Rand Paul is sending a very clear signal: I’m a good soldier for the GOP.
Make no mistake: The Republican party establishment will never embrace Rand Paul as one of their own — nor would he want them to. But, it is possible that Paul playing the role of loyal Republican in the 2012 election could well neutralize some of the fears the party regulars have about the prospects of him carrying their standard at some point down the line.
His gamble has initially paid off as self proclaimed “neocon” commentators are already warming to a future Rand Paul run. As Matt Lewis of The Daily Caller crassly put it: “He’s everything you like about Ron Paul, without the crazy.”
This neutralizing effect would quell the anxiety over future attempts at interparty quibbling and reported outright fraud. Even the firebrand Alex Jones, an advocate of libertarianism and paleoconservative ethos, on his radio program today wanted to believe that Rand and Ron Paul were more politically savvy than it would seem given the endorsement. However, he argued that not only was this a bad move for Rand Paul, who has been on his show many times along with his father Ron Paul, but it was a move that the media elite and establishment agents may use to attempt to splinter the liberty movement.
Cynicism has its place, however, sometimes it gets in the way. Jones does bring up a great point though, Ron and Rand most definitely coordinated the move, but to what end? Cillizza points to something we’ve all suspected, but what about the Romney/Paul ticket?
We have speculated Ron Paul as a possible Vice President and gave the reasons why it would be a good idea. We have also suggested Rand may be tapped for VP for the same reasons. Daniel McCarthy of The American Conservative gives a few more:
The symbolic power shift of putting an anti-statist, non-interventionist Republican in the number 2 slot — in contrast to Cheney in the last GOP administration — would have real-world consequences. That would keep Romney more interested than he would otherwise be in placating constitutionalists, for fear of an embarrassing split within his administration.
And a public official never just occupies a single office: the staff that Rand would put into executive-branch positions (even those associated with the institutionally weak vice presidency) would gain experience that would make them powerful rivals to the neoconservatives in staffing future GOP administrations.
Unfortunately none of these scenarios are likely to come to fruition. The motivation against Barack Obama is demonstrably more widespread than the enthusiasm for Rand Paul and other than enthusiasm and fresh ideas Rand Paul doesn’t bring much to the table – as far as an establishment politician is concerned. Marco Rubio on the other hand offers Latinos and Florida, Nikki Haley offers women and ostensibly some libertarianism, while Rob Portman is simply a reassuring water carrier.
To be sure, this was a political decision; therefore it should be judged on those grounds. If Rand Paul doesn’t get anything for his endorsement, while pulling the chair out from under his supporters, it will be to his chagrin. However, speaking slots at the GOP convention, cabinet appointments and other tangible influence will be a victory for the liberty wing of the GOP. Revolutions don’t occur overnight, at least the organic ones.
Christopher Greene has his take: