The libertarian right’s messiah isn’t all that libertarian any more
I am writing this article whilst watching Rand Paul’s ‘filibuster’ against the extension of the Patriot Act (I use inverted commas because it’s not really a filibuster), and the essence of the Republican Presidential hopeful’s ideology is coming to surface. We see him berating the apparent flouting of due process clauses scattered throughout the U.S constitution (I admire him for this) and also the supposed disconnect between the legislative houses and the American public (although some fact-checking is in order to verify the 70% figure that was referenced as evidence for the U.S public’s disapproval of the provisions in the aforementioned Patriot Act).
One doesn’t have to agree with Rand Paul on these issues to admire the conviction it takes up to stand up against the majority of his own Republican party on this issue – especially considering the flak from several of the more ‘hawkish’ individuals within his party last time he took a stand on a civil liberties issue (most notably Chris Christie). However, in the last few weeks, I have found the chap to be slightly less admirable than he previously was.
It was inevitable that this was going to happen – there is no way that an essentially libertarian candidate was going to win the Republican Party’s nomination (considering that the voter turnout for primary elections is disproportionately of the Christian Right of the party). But I thought that Rand would be slightly more principled in his chase for the White House, like his father was 3-4 years previously. He appears to have flip-flopped on almost every single issue that made him different from the majority of the Republican Party – in 2011, he memorably proposed a budget in which the foreign aid budget to Israel would be eliminated, yet, in 2015, we hear this from an interview with Yahoo News:
‘I haven’t really proposed that in the past. We’ve never had a legislative proposal to do that. You can mistake my position, but then I’ll answer the question. That has not been a position — a legislative position — we have introduced to phase out or get rid of Israel’s aid.’
This pandering to the traditional Republican base was also seen slightly less explicitly when asked about same-sex marriage. Despite, in the past, Rand opposing a state role in protecting ‘traditional marriage’ – implicitly dismissing it as an illegitimate government overreach of power (‘I’m in favor of the concept’, he stated), he has now offered his support for a constitutional amendment essentially banning the practice of anything that is considered ‘non-traditional’ marriage.
These are just two flip-flops from Rand Paul (there are many more – on foreign policy for instance), and I acknowledge the fact that these are necessary considering the social-conservative bias in the Republican primary electorate. However, he is limiting his appeal to prospective swing voters by shuffling slowly toward the Rick Santorum-wing of the party.