Sunday, April 12, 2015

Rand Paul for President?

All sorts of chatter in libertarian circles about Rand Paul recently, especially since he announced his candidacy for president. There's been more than a dozen commentaries in Reason magazine alone the last few days. Most seem pretty supportive. 

Over at the National Libertarian Party Facebook page, comments seem much more negative. But those are mostly from what I refer to as the Coffee Club Libertarians, so I don't pay them much mind. Sure, Rand may not be a big L libertarian, but nobody would be paying attention to him if he was.

Jacob Sullum takes issue with Rand's supposed waffling, but points out he's still strong on some issues. Over at CATO, David Boaz takes a look at Rand's chances of winning the Republican nomination. While he doesn't explicitly say so, he seems to think he can, if I'm reading him right.

Me? Hard to say. I understand a lot of his waffling. He's trying to be all things to all people. I'm even somewhat tolerant of the non- principled things he's done such as endorsing Mitt Romney in the last presidential election. It's the old going- along- to- get- along thing. Pragmatism, perhaps to a fault. Still, he'd have little, if any support from the Republicans if he hadn't done so.

The question is how far will he go to get along?

Much of the speculation about him is moot, seems to me, since his chances of winning the nomination are slim to none. He'll likely get treated the same way his father was. We're already seeing the groundwork for that by both the Left, Right and mainstream media in trying to belittle, if not downright demonize him.

I'm with Nick Gillespie when he wrote a while back, "If the tries too hard to please all constituencies, he'll likely get the support of none." That seems to be ever more the case as we see him taking stronger positions on certain issues to please whoever he might be talking to.

But what if he does win the nomination? Would I vote for him? As it stands right now, probably. It would be nice to be able to vote for someone with a chance of winning rather than someone who doesn't, as I usually do.

Is he libertarian enough to move the country more in a liberty oriented direction? I'm not so sure. As a senator I think he has worked towards that end. As president, he probably couldn't.

You have to consider who he'd appoint to his cabinet and other positions, keeping in mind his go along to get along style. You can bet if he did win the nomination it would have come with a lot of deal making. As part of those deals, I would expect his cabinet and other staff positions to be very mainstream Republican. With that in mind, I think we'd see little difference from the status quo with a Paul administration.

Yep, I might vote for him (absent deal breakers, below) if he doesn't stray much further on issues than he already has. I'm kinda with Sullum. While he doesn't say whether he'd vote for Rand, his closing paragraph kinda says it all: 

"The challenge for Paul is to remain different enough from other Republicans that there's a reason for him to run but not so different that he cannot win the nomination. I'm not sure those goals can be reconciled, but it will be interesting to see him try."

"I'm not sure those goals can be reconciled..."- that's it right there, and I'm not at all sure they can.
A couple issues come to mind that I consider deal breakers. He's already pretty close on one. In no particular order:

Cuba: I've wrote before here I'm fully supportive of opening doors with Cuba. I understand President Obama recently left to go see Castro(?). If so, kudos to Obama.

I don't believe Paul was amongst those mouthing off that re- establishment of relations with Cuba was akin to treason or a threat to the free world. That's a good thing, but if he changes course and starts trying to appease the Cuban American crowd by supporting any sorts of attacks on Cuba- symbolic or otherwise- that's a deal breaker. That would show fundamental poor judgment, or at least pandering to its extreme.

Iran, the middle east and the military: He's already dangerously close to a deal breaker on those issues. He's supported increasing military spending, albeit to be paid for by cuts elsewhere. He signed the letter to Iran that at least in part opposes the president's deal over Iran's nuclear program, and has seemed to have gotten more aggressive toward the middle east in general. 

I'm no pacifist, but if he gets any more aggressive with the military or the middle east, that will be deal breaker. It won't take much.

I'm sure there's other issues, too, but none come to mind right now. Assuming he wins the nomination, if he pushes me too far, it's Gary Johnson for President in 2016!


At 7:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rand Paul, Ru Paul. I get so confused

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Julie Timmons said...

Let's make a bet, Fred. You back Gary Johnson , I back Hillary and the morning after the election the loser buys the winner breakfast. Not being on the ballot is considered losing. I was going to add , breakfast in Washington DC but it's cold in November.

At 9:43 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

"Not being on the ballot is considered losing"

Gary Johnson should win the Libertarian Party nomination, although I suppose anything is possible. As far as being on the ballot, you're probably referring to California's open primary and resulting top two general election.

I'm pretty sure that doesn't apply to presidential elections, so there should be more than just a R and D on the general election ballot in 2016.

Last I'd heard, the Libertarian Party is a recognized political party in California, which gives it a spot on the presidential ballot. Not so in all states, though.

At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rand Paul would get defeated with advertisements that quote him in context on the many nutty views he holds. After each quote they could write "Rand Paul really believes this."

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Whereas, "Let's bomb the shit out of all those other countries and show them who is boss", as so many candidates might say (albeit in other words) would be accepted by many mainstream Americans.


Post a Comment

<< Home