Ron Paul sets up Rand for 2016

The cult libertarian hero keeps his campaign alive, barely, as he prepares to hand the reins to his son

Topics: Ron Paul, Rand Paul, 2016 Elections, 2012 Elections, Republican Party, Libertarianism, U.S. Senate,

Ron Paul sets up Rand for 2016Ron Paul and Rand Paul (Credit: AP/Charles Dharapak)

So Ron Paul says he is going to stop actively campaigning, but his supporters will continue to rack up delegates by storming state conventions. What will he do with these delegates? That is still unclear. (Barter them for gold?) What is the point of this strategy, exactly? Also unclear, but the Daily Beast’s Ben Jacobs today says it’s part of a “sneaky maneuver” to help his son Rand out. Ron will continue to consolidate power but will not appear to be actively sabotaging the party’s nominee. Dave Weigel says the maneuver is less sneaky and barely a maneuver: He doesn’t want it to be a huge embarrassment when he loses Kentucky, the state his son represents in the Senate.

Interestingly, though perhaps not surprisingly, Paul declined to endorse Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor who endorsed Paul in 2008. Johnson was, formerly, the Republican presidential candidate all those young “liberal” college stoner Ron Paul supporters should have gone with if they’d wanted to support a candidate who believed strongly in liberty but who wasn’t a racist Alex Jonesian conspiracy-mongering goldbug loon. But Johnson had “extensive executive experience” instead of a blimp and a sweet logo, so he did not win over many Paul fanatics.

Ron Paul’s strategy seems to be a gradual takeover of the Republican Party itself, instead of attempting to build a Libertarian alternative to the GOP. I think he’ll find that he can get the party to happily sign on, at least rhetorically, to his fiscal message, as they continue to ignore his popular and populist isolationism and his eminently agreeable but politically untenable positions on criminal justice and civil liberties, forever. The party, in other words, will continue to co-opt whatever they find electorally useful about the Paul phenomenon, as the Tea Party movement stole his iconography and messaging wholesale while attaching it to the same religious-right/nativist sentiment that has driven the party’s activist base for decades.

But Paul thinks the future lies with his son Rand, who shares many of his father’s enthusiasms and beliefs while also appearing to be more acceptable to the mainstream. Various Paul allies and a few other Republicans strongly suggest that Rand is gearing up for a 2016 run; which would mean, of course, that they expect Romney to lose, but that they need to not appear to be rooting for Romney to lose.

The problem is that what makes Rand Paul more acceptable to the mainstream of the Republican Party is what makes him more repellent than his father. Take, for example, Rand Paul’s funny joke this last weekend about Barack Obama and gay marriage.

You Might Also Like

The president recently weighed in on marriage. And, you know, he said his views were evolving on marriage. Call me cynical but I wasn’t sure that his views on marriage could get any gayer. Now it did kind of bother me, though, that he used the justification for it in a biblical reference. He said the biblical Golden Rule caused him to be for gay marriage …

And I’m like: What version of the Bible is he reading? It’s not the King James version. It’s not the New American Standard. It’s not the New Revised version. I don’t know what version he is getting it from.

Haha Barack Obama is so gay, he should read a Bible for once. Libertarianism!

Nick Gillespie, of the libertarian Reason Magazine, does not get this joke. The crowd, at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, did seem to get it, or at least they appreciated it. But Rand sounds very different when he speaks to Iowa conservatives than he does when interviewed by Gillespie and Matt Welch. (His address received a nice notice from Robert Costa of the National Review, who did not mention his funny joke.)

While Rand Paul may be, as Gillespie says, the most libertarian senator, he is also not an actual libertarian, as demonstrated by his support for anti-constitutional anti-immigrant legislation and his very vocal antiabortion position. He is also a dumb lout, and I tend to think that having the Senate’s most libertarian member be a dumb lout is not actually that good for the Libertarian movement. When he makes explicitly libertarian arguments, he makes them dumbly. When he goes all anti-gay talk-radio bigot culture warrior, which he does increasingly frequently, he does so dumbly. (If he wants to be a mainstream politician and presidential contender, it was certainly dumb to appear — more than once — on the radio program of Truther/Birther/New World Orderer/every-other-conspiracy promoter Alex Jones, but for some reason he almost entirely escaped mainstream press scrutiny for these appearances.) While I don’t feel much affection for Ron Paul, he seems both significantly smarter and leagues more principled than his son the senator.

If the “electable” face of libertarianism is a fratty anti-gay, anti-choice nitwit like Rand Paul, I will stick with socialism, thank you. And I wonder if the Paul family’s plan is to promote “liberty” or to promote the Paul family.

Alex Pareene
Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>