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Judging Rand Paul: Not Just the Distance of the Apple from the Tree

The greatest ideological achievement of Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative Prime Minster of Britain from 1979 to 1990, was arguably not the redefinition of the Right of British politics, but the redefinition of its Left, and therewith, its middle. She has a legacy not because she destroyed her opponents or their political philosophies, but because her practical success as a politician forced them to incorporate much of hers.

With that in mind, Rand Paul's efforts as both a libertarian Republican and a Constitutional Conservative - both phrases he used to describe himself in a recent interview with Sean Hannity - are more interesting, and likely to be more effective, than many have yet given him credit for.

At the end of the interview, Hannity - a Conservative host with an overwhelmingly Conservative audience, including plenty of dyed-in-the-wool self-identified Republican voters (and that means many recent Romney voters) noted that Rand Paul is one of the "four strong conservative voices" in the Senate that he looks to "to bring sanity back to Washington". He didn't call Rand, "one of the four libertarian voices" in the Senate, and yet the four Senators he mentioned (Paul, Lee, Cruz and Rubio) are without much doubt the most pro-liberty members of that House)

And what "strong conservative" views did Rand Paul proceed to elucidate as Hannity endorsed his conservative credentials? They were as follows.

The need to audit the Pentagon, the need for term limits, the GOP's need to win in New England and on the west coast, the fact that he (Rand) is a libertarian Republican, which approximates to a Constitutional Conservative, the need for the GOP to appeal to Independents, recognition that America doesn't need to be involved in every war around the world, the fact that people shouldn't be locked up for 20 years for taking drugs, and the need to embrace immigrants.

This is not your grandfather's Conservatism. But it is slowly looking more like it might become Hannity's - and (much more importantly) your grandson's.

Take note. Here is an established conservative host in mainstream media recognizing as conservative the least neo-con version of that creed that has been heard from a Republican for decades. How far all this is from the only conservatism that was "licensed" by the GOP just a decade ago.

This is extremely important because, for good or ill, the labels that the mainstream media use - and the way in which they use them - set the concepts and parameters of popular political debate, and thereby, the "mainstream" range of political views of the majority of the electorate.

Moreover, people are much more willing to change their views than their political identities or labels or "teams". Hence, converting 100 million self-identified conservatives to another philosophy (such as libertarian) or Republicans to another party is much harder than nudging the definition of "conservative" or the platform of the GOP over time. In fact, not only does such evolution of the meaning of political terms and philosophies have precedent: given enough time, it is inevitable.

So whether particular members of the liberty movement think that the GOP is a lost cause (very few things ever are), it is not going away, and it will continue to dominate half of the political thinking of this nation for the foreseeable future. This brute fact presents members of the liberty movement with a choice between being subject to (victims of?) the evolution of the GOP (on the one hand) or the determinants of the direction of that evolution (on the other).

The fact that evolution has only a direction and not a destination provides a big clue to how we should best judge Rand's efforts. He will have failed if he does not move the GOP in the direction of liberty. He will have succeeded to the extent that he moves the party in that direction. To discount his efforts because he fails to meet a litmus test for political purity does not advance liberty as a practical reality. (Does anyone think that the Republicrats would have been half as effective at bringing our country into its current sorry state if they had held themselves to such standards of ideological purity?)

Some libertarians are calling out Rand for the subversion of libertarian ideas that they perceive derives from an instinct toward neoconservatism. Time will tell, and I expect it will prove them wrong. But what is already certain is that to take only that perspective is to choose not to see the very part of Rand's approach that is the most likely (by far) to bring about any practical improvement in American liberty: he is slowly redefining conservatism and Republicanism by packing more libertarian ingredients into the jars that bear those labels. (And it's the content of the jars - and not their labels - that matter.)

Those in the liberty movement who would not have any part of their philosophy peddled by this man whom they do not see as a true believer should ask whether, when Rand is fighting for just one of the things that they believe in, it would be better if he stopped? And if he were to stop, who (and in what position and party) would be more effective in doing liberty's work?. (The same question can be asked about any of the new breed of liberty-oriented Republicans on Capitol Hill.)

If Rand is in any way enabling conservatives to shift their views without changing their labels , then he may yet become as important for the popular acceptance of whichever version of libertarianism he holds as was his father. That rather large claim rests on the possibility that most of those who were won over by Ron Paul's wonderful message of liberty (this writer included) were willing and able to undergo a large and conscious shift in political identity, but whereas we count in the millions, there are tens of millions who will come with us only slowly and only if we don't challenge their political identity - and that "Conservative" label with which, for reasons or culture, upbringing or religion etc., they feel comfortable .

As the Bard said, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Two other factors make Rand worth watching.

The first is the simple fact that he has started very early for a 2016 run. He has been quietly garnering support from various groups across a wide ideological spectrum (from true conservatives to true libertarians). Getting ahead of the campaigning curve while keeping on the right side of media that still have not understood what the response to Ron Paul last year means for this country, helps to protect the GOP against having the media pick another candidate in 2016 who doesn't have the Big Three Ps for victory - principles, pragmatism and personality.

The second is a little more subtle - and ironic. If Rand closes in on a 2016 race facing vocal criticism from the libertarian purists who fear the apple has fallen too far from the tree, he may well be seen as less alien to the party than his father (which helps in winning the party's nomination), and more at one with the broader Republican base (which helps in winning the Presidency). In other words, those who would make the perfect the enemy of the good might help focus everyone else on what "the good" really is - and American liberty could be the better for it.

We shall see.

But for now, let's not judge Rand's contribution to Liberty just by debating how far the apple fell from the tree: let's watch what grows from its seeds.

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Rand is....

"a-Pauling"! :)

~wobbles but doesn't fall down~

One more thing I'd like to point out...maybe more later. :)

"This is not your grandfather's Conservatism."

Check these two lines out.. the one here and the one below.

"But it is slowly looking more like it might become Hannity's - and (much more importantly) your grandson's."

This is how people rewrite definitions and propagate them throughout a society.. He's even telling you it's how it's done while doing it himself.

This is not your grandfathers conservatism.. No it's not.. and that's the problem. It's not real conservatism.

But it's looking like it might become Hannity's? Well sure it looks that way because he has already arrived at his destination and a long time ago.. It's called neo-conservatism. The reason Rand is more palatable is because he's neo-conish. Some of you are looking at him as a bridge between libertarianism and neo-con's and those two together would wind up like this politically... without the familial ties.

One more small bone to pick... Rand is not a Constitutional Conservative. I am a Constitutional Conservative.. Which many Minarchist really are.

Rand has already stepped outside of those lines concerning his foreign policy.

Patriot Cell #345,168
I don't respond to emails or pm's.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution, inevitable.

To answer You and Tommy

There is another form of political "strategy".. It's called sticking to your guns or principles..

Do this and you will eventually win over the naysayers because people respect uncompromising people and ideas especially when they see them coming to fruition.

Dr.Paul's ideas are becoming "mainstream".. I just posted a personal story about a woman that, completely on her own at the age of 65.. a republican for most of her life, make the "shocking" statement that "We missed our boat with that libertarian guy".

At NO TIME in recent history has there been such an enormous time to seize the libertarian day as we are in now. We don't need incremental-ized steps toward Liberty, not politically.

What we need are people yelling at the top of their voices the libertarian viewpoints at all levels of government offices and throughout as many arenas as we can possibly get in. Standing TALL for the principles that Dr.Paul has put forth.

If you do anything less.. you risk other now mainstream political corruptness in thought, creeping into what you're trying to accomplish..

All throughout political history, you can see the watering down and dumbing down of opposing rhetoric to status quo rhetoric.

Patriot Cell #345,168
I don't respond to emails or pm's.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution, inevitable.

Alive and Well, with a little Blunt added on top.

You didn't just hear the message - you KNOW it.


"What if the American people learn the truth" - Ron Paul

Thank you brother!


Patriot Cell #345,168
I don't respond to emails or pm's.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution, inevitable.

Well Said

Great article Robin, very well said!

I hate politics.

I am 50 years old and basically have had nothing to do with the compromised and broken system called governement in this country.

I listened to Ron Paul, saw that his words match his actions, and decided there was finally someone worth supporting.

If someone comes along equally as worthy (through both speech and actions), I will support that person. If Rand is that person - good. If not, what else is new. I will not compromise one little bit - I simply can't.

Changing the definition of "labels" but keeping the "labels" the same is nonsense to me. What games these politicians play.

The law cannot make a wicked person virtuous…God’s grace alone can accomplish such a thing.
Ron Paul - The Revolution

Setting a good example is a far better way to spread ideals than through force of arms. Ron Paul

The Overton Window ...

... is a political strategy that says if you want to push forward an idea within a culture, then you need one group of people who push forward an idea that is considered "too radical" by the vast majority of people (such as, all drugs should be legal), and when the people who oppose such ideas denounce it as "crazy," you then need another group of people who promote ideas that are considered "more reasonable" (such as, medical marijuana).

Once the "more reasonable" idea is accepted, then the next move is to push yet again in the direction you want to go (such as, now that medical marijuana has been tried and the naysayers were proven wrong, we should make it legal for everyone and tax it).

By having two groups on the same side playing "good cop/bad cop," the ideas they both want to promote eventually become accepted within the culture.

The progressives have been using it for decades, to the point of infiltrating both political parties and most of the Propaganda Media outlets.

The liberty movement needs to utilize this strategy, too. We need anarchists AND minarchists AND "constitutional conservatives" and even "constitutional democrats" (someone kinda sorta like Dennis Kucinich).

If someone who claims to support liberty (*cough* Glenn Beck) at some point comes out with a real anti-liberty idea, then we need to call him out on it. But as long as people are promoting libertarian ideas -- IN GENERAL -- this is a GOOD thing because it WILL have a positive effect within the culture.


Absolutely. This.

Eric Hoffer

Right On

Nice work, Robin. I'm glad we have you on our side.

tasmlab's picture

Nice analysis

Nice analysis, Robin. Very cogent and agree with most points.

I think many of us, like myself, through the campaigns have pushed on through the libertarian philosophy to not think that individual politicians or working with the government with voting and such are an answer to anything. Kind of a backfire of Dr. Paul to tell us to go read Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, Murphy and crew.

So this said, let's hope for 10 more Rand Pauls, but I think I'll blow my campaign donations next time around on something useful, like haircuts or icecream for my kids. Or even funding Ron Paul speaking events.

Currently consuming: Morehouse's "Better off free", FDR; Wii U; NEP Football

Koerner, in his own words:

"British perm. res. of the USA. Publisher of Political commentator at Huffington Post and the Moderate Voice. The original Blue Republican"

I have not liked this guy from day 1, and don't much care what he thinks about anything but especially I don't care what the British Democrat thinks about American Republican politicians.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.

blonduxo's picture

Robin can't wait to become a naturalized citizen

It takes time you know...years. And one only gets to write for Huffpo if one is invited by them, and they do not compensate any of their contributors. You do know that he is holds degrees in physics and philosophy from Cambridge, which informs his writing, something that he is very passionate about.

Robin is doing the spade work of sowing ideas of liberty and nurturing them to grow, not just here in America, his adopted home but worldwide. Next week he will be attending the European Students for Liberty Conference in Brussels. And last year he taught liberty classes in Poland and if I remember correctly in Latvia. He is a huge asset to our movement here in WA state, and he has been carrying Dr. Paul's message across the USA in lectures, tv and radio interviews, at C4L meetings, etc.

I am proud to call him my friend and welcome his point of view. He is one of the hardest working proponents of the liberty message out there...firmly on our side.

I really think

You should at least have a spot of tea with the guy before you throw him under the bus! Robin's Blue Republican project opened countless eyes - what's not to like?

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See below.

It is really not as personal as that post came off.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.


Ah yes, because having support from across the aisle and reaching out to disaffected democrats was a terrible idea. What we should be doing instead is ejecting possible voters and making sure everyone meets the high standards of fishyculture before letting them support Liberty.

Because that makes sense.

Eric Hoffer

Guilty of coming off like that, I will grant you.

I just have a really hard time with people who rise up out of no where and are suddenly the darling of the liberty movement. How did he wind up at HuffPo? If they want a real "grassroots" perspective, how about put Cat Bleish on staff? Or Nystrom? There are all these people who "earned their stripes" but they never rise to the limelight. Instead, the media presents us with "our" next "voice." Paul Simon put it well - "Every generation throws a hero up the pop chart."
It is really not about Koerner, it is about feeling like I am being manipulated by a media desperate to keep my attention. I get the same willies from Ben Carson, and he has not said one word that offended me. It is just the way he is being crammed down my throat.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.


Kudos on the walkback, most people wouldn't do it in your situation.

Idk, I remember reading Koerner's work a while back, 2011 at least. A part I like about him was that he was won over on the basis of ideas, and quite honestly that's how I think everyone should join this movement. Leaving the name calling and the absurdity we call the debate between Dem and Rep to actually listen to ideas is an important step. Many of us were caught up in that absurdity before and saw the light. I think it's important that we accept people whether they came through from the Dem or the Rep side. As long as they're thinking for themselves and writing quality, well thought out analysis, I see now reason to judge them harshly.

As for the media thing, I believe Koerner actually had the gig at HuffPost before he went Pro-Paul (I may be wrong here). He came from the Dem side, and they're definitely a more Liberal crowd (cough understatement cough). During the run up, he definitely put in a great effort trying to pull disaffected Dems though and explaining how Liberty really works.

I hear you on the annoyance with the feelings of manipulation. Heck, we got hosed on the whole Tea Party co-opting pretty hard, and that was just recently, we're prime for another "leader" of the movement who is really just a bonehead. I just think Koerner is the wrong target for the angst.


Eric Hoffer

One rotten apple

Back stabber, spoils the barrel.


The ends don't justify the means.

The "ends justify the means" mentality is antithetical to libertarianism.

Libertarianism is a moral philosophy built on the Non-Aggression Principle.

You are either acting in accordance with non-aggression, or you are not, there is no in between.

Check out the Laissez-Faire Journal at

"The State is a gang of thieves writ large." - Murray Rothbard

In terms of how the govt

In terms of how the govt currently operates, it can be said that it is 100% pro-aggression. If your only alternative to that is a pure 0 then what you want will never happen. However, if you can have a person that is able to cut that 100% number down to 75% and keep cutting down the aggression going forward then that is an admirable endeavor. The fact is that we live in a country that is made up of people that very few of have in depth knowledge nor care about the overall trend of aggression in society. Ron educated and reawakened enough people to get the ball rolling on showcasing the amount of aggression that currently goes on. He paved the way for a libertarian to make it to the Senate and subsequently his endorsements have gotten quite a few good conservatives and libertarians into the House. Restoring the GOP towards a liberty bent is being successful and only works if people stay engaged and don't bow out, if nothing else support those that are taking on the fight head on. We need to continue to change the shape of the Congress as well as those that are in leadership roles in the party itself. If we can continue to build on our current successes we'll be better off for it in the years to come. Treat it like a marathon; steady pace but never quit else the opposition fills in the void. What better hobby can a liberty lover have than to keep lobbying for it..

another view

“Paul sounds conventional. He calls himself a ‘realist,’ but unlike many realists, he sees the overriding threat to America as ‘radical Islam,’ which he describes as a ‘relentless force’ of ‘unlimited zeal,’ ‘supported by radicalized nations such as Iran’ and with which the United States is indeed at ‘war’ and will be for a long time.

“Unlike critics during the Cold War, who argued that anti-communist ‘paranoia’ produced a self-destructive foreign policy, Paul embraces the dominant ‘paranoia’ of the post-9/11 era. He … shares the average American’s view that radical Islam is today what Soviet Communism was during the Cold War — ‘an ideology with worldwide reach’ that must, like communism, be met by ‘counterforce at a series of constantly shifting worldwide points.’”

First the comunist russia propaganda lies then

the Radical islamic people lie. When will the duped debt slaves stop mouthing the lies and wake up to realize that you are your own worst enemy.

I would rather look at the radical government or the radical terorist monitary powers that are and have destroyed humanity as a on going agenda.

I would rather look at who is promoting the lies you are repeating than the lies themselves. The media, Rothschild media, the Bank mafia, same, post 911 not radical islamic terrorist but exposure of the government and their continual mafia operations. They kill and destroy anyone with impunity. Yet some fictious boogie man is still the focus. And now Rand the back stabber is so wonderful to perpetuate the lies and fears promoted by the enemy. Rand the enemy is the enemy within.


Hannity is not a

Hannity is not a source.
Robio does not believe in the Liberty movement.
Thatcher like our Reagan is as NWO as they come.
This article is horrible.
As for Rand... Lying with dogs will only give you fleas.
For those that still think Reagan was anything more than a mouth piece first of GE (of all companies) and then for Donald Regan and the Wall street banks I leave you with this...
*** Apologies for the Michael Moore narration but he does get this right. "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then"

Prefer this role??? Reagan as a union guy democrat puppet:
Take your pick which role do you like him in? Conservative god send or union commy shill? You could probably hire him too to sell your crap if you had the bucks and he wasn't already dead.
I am sick of all who do not stand on principle.
Until Rand does he has no place in my heart. I am awake to these weak men. Patrick Henry and Sam Adams are rolling in their graves at our tolerance!

“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian.” ― Henry Ford.

If Rand sleeps with dogs he wakes with

Cat scratch fever. Bump every word you stated.

You Rand prostitutes need to give it a rest a man dont get two chances to stab me in the back and Rand left a gaping wound.


Obviously this guy is the voice of reason.

Obviously this guy is the voice of reason.

Eric Hoffer

Sick of Rand talk. Give it a rest!

Talking about Rand for President is a waste of our time people. Unless we take over the party, change the rules that eliminated the grassroots, and be on track to get rid of computer voting. By the 2014 mid terms the GOP is dead as is any chance of getting anyone we might endorse in. My take is the GOP will be used as a distraction again for those that would oppose the establishment's acceleration toward total power. Obama is going to register us all for gun ownership and healthcare while finishing the Utah data center and Hillary will be coming calling for our papers and guns in her first term in 2016.

Even if Rand were the perfect candidate (which he is not even close to) talking about this election in 2016 and ignoring real issues that we witnessed first hand just months ago, and know are not solving themselves, is ludicrous, a definition of insanity.

We better stop talking about Rand and start talking about what a vote means anymore and what if anything we can do about it short of picking up a gun. It is time to "go to the mattresses".
Sorry to be the downer here people but if I have to see one more stupid post about Rand in 2016 I,, I,,, I yi yi.....

“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian.” ― Henry Ford.

In Defense

When Rand is being attacked on a daily basis from folks in the movement, it deserves some talking about. Are you suggesting that his aggressors be vocal and his defenders be silent?

No.Though it seems to me his

Though it seems to me his defenders ignore the glaring realities of his hubris and his well played role of Laertes in advance of our stand in Tampa. A stand many of us had worked many years even before 2008 for. That poison sword not only grazed the father it grazed many of us. This is not about what Rand did to Ron. That is between them. It is about what Rand did to us with a prideful smirk and no hint of remorse to this day. I don't buy giving up principle for politics when we have already sank so far. We must wake more people up and politics won't do that. He should be less concerned with being president and more concerned with earning it.

“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian.” ― Henry Ford.

Thank you Robin

I appreciate the well thought out approach to judging Rand's fall from the tree, or seed from the fruit.. apparently it fell on fertile soil.

Why do you say "evolution" and not rEVOLution?



'Peace is a powerful message.' Ron Paul

Rand will only get my vote if

Rand will only get my vote if he publicly apologizes for the timing of his endorsement of rmoney.

Come on dude,

It's called politics. Ron Paul once endorsed Newt Gingrich, if I am not mistaken. Judge a politician on their voting record, not their political chess moves.

And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes, I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

B.S. "dude..."

B.S. "dude..."

“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian.” ― Henry Ford.


Yeah, Ron Paul did.

He endorsed both Newt Gingrich and John Boehner for Speaker of the House.

Eric Hoffer

I like to think I judge a politician

I like to think I judge a politician on their decision to become a politician. That would be a class-based distinction, though, and I don't believe in the existence of classes, and I really shouldn't judge a person themselves although it's often tempting, and so I'm often left with reminding people that voting is an act of aggression against your neighbor and as such is a violation of the NAP.

"voting is an act of aggression against your neighbor"?

Maybe if you're voting for war mongering/interventionist candidates - by using the same logic NOT supporting advocates of peace/non-interventionists could be construed and rationalized as acts of aggression against your neighbor.

Si se puede!

Your "advocates of peace/non-interventionists"

...are someone else's "war mongering/interventionist candidates."

If you advocate peace and non-intervention, no politician can possibly ever deliver.

Every vote you cast is an act of aggression, is an attempt to pretend that you deserve control by proxy over someone else's life. Never vote.


Because voting for Ron Paul was us here trying to control other people lives, and Ron Paul is a war mongering interventionist?

That is asinine.

Si se puede!

It's called mind control

The point is, many people out there believe for right or for wrong that Ron Paul is evil, yet Ron Paul supporters try to "get out the vote" with hopes that they can force their cult-of-personality onto everyone else -- you know, "for their own good." Ron Paul supporters -- especially Ron Paul supporters -- should grasp the difference between a Political Economy school of thought (e.g. Austrian School) and a politician (e.g. any of a million different lowlifes).

What part of the phrase " politician can possibly ever deliver" is mistaken? I mean, besides no part of it. I've heard weak attempts to rally around a so-called Social Contract, but all that ever represents -- either Hobbesian or Lockean -- is history's most tragic example of mass psychosis, of widespread belief in the imaginary.

As Letterman (a NWO stooge) might say: "You been hip-oh-tized." Deprogram yourself.


"But for now, let's not judge Rand's contribution to Liberty just by debating how far the apple fell from the tree: let's watch what grows from its seeds."

And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes, I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.


As Always.



Rand is walking a tightrope

and taking all the heat off of Rubio, Christie, etc. Let's just hope that he can cobble together enough conservative, republican, blue democrat and libertarian support to pull off a nomination. General election for him would be very difficult.

Much appreciated Robin!

Much appreciated Robin!

Awesome Article...

... I think you are very correct in the fact that he is trying to redefine what "conservatism" actually means.

We need to get an early start on 2016: Support Rand PAC 2016

Well if you're making comparisons with Thatcher's government

...I suppose the seeds would sprout into another pedophilia ring.

Perhaps you'd like to try again.

I believe Robin was referencing the

Effectiveness of Thatchers political career rather than agreeing with any of her philosophies.

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