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Rand Paul Reminds Us He's Not a Libertarian

In a Washington Post article titled “Sen. Rand Paul aggressively courting evangelicals to win over GOP establishment”, we are reminded once again that the Senator from Kentucky is not a libertarian. In fact, he says so himself. From the article:

For the past few months, though, Paul has aggressively courted evangelicals, not only with the CBN special but also with a trip to Israel, numerous events with pastors and a handful of appearances in Iowa this weekend.

Paul’s play for evangelical support is part of a broader effort by the rookie senator to court the Republican establishment — much of which views him with suspicion — and become a mainstream political player in a way his father never was. The younger Paul, for instance, does not call himself a libertarian, but rather a “libertarian Republican.”

A-ha! Not a “libertarian”, just a “libertarian Republican”! I’ve heard this phrased used quite a bit, and I’m curious as to what exactly it means. It seems on the surface that it is meant to mean different things to different audiences. To libertarians, it is meant to assure them that Paul is indeed libertarian, while to the establishment and evangelicals he is attempting to pander to it is meant to assuage them that the he is merely “libertarian-leaning” and still a good Republican at heart.

As we’ve pointed out before, as Rand Paul gears up to run for president in 2016, he attempts to mix libertarian and establishment rhetoric, which tends to confuse the issues and upset many of those he is attempting to please.

The article goes on to describe Rand’s attempts to “clarify” his position on drug legalization (emphasis mine):

In an interview a day before his Iowa trip, Paul, 50, also tried to make clear just what kind of politician he is. “To some, ‘libertarian’ scares people,” he said. “Some of them come up to me and they say, ‘I kind of like you, but I don’t like legalizing heroin.’ And I say, ‘Well, that’s not my position.’ ”

Paul said he believes in freedom and wants a “virtuous society” where people practice “self-restraint.” Yet he believes in laws and limits as well. Instead of advocating for legalized drugs, for example, he pushes for reduced penalties for many drug offenses.

“I’m not advocating everyone go out and run around with no clothes on and smoke pot,” he said. “I’m not a libertarian. I’m a libertarian Republican. I’m a constitutional conservative.”

Here Paul not only seems to support the concept of the war on drugs, but even goes out of his way to smear not only libertarians but those who use marijuana for medicinal purposes as well. Paul plays into the notion often espoused by those in favor of the War on Drugs that anyone who advocates that people be free to put what they choose into their bodies are clearly in favor of the drug use itself, along with any other activity that may or may not be associated with it.

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I wrote a response to this

in a separate thread


*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

He may be on your side

But he is not on mine.

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

Is Rand on your side on the

Is Rand on your side on the issue of legalizing hemp?


And we've written as much.

You see, I judge his stances by each issue, not by his last name or my desire for his political success.

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

Same here!

I understand your reservations with Rand Paul regarding the drug issues and even foreign policy at times.

I believe Rand Paul is using incrementalism to bring back the sheeple to our side. I think one lesson I learned from 2008 & 2012 campaigns were that the blunt positions of Ron Paul were sadly rejected by the sheeple. Therefore, I believe incrementalism (which was used on us for decades) must be used back on the establishment for certain issues where we just can't win by going all-in. I think legalizing hemp is the back door to getting all drugs legalized.

I know you won't like to hear that--but it's just how I picture we can win (on the issues) in the long run.

A stint in jail would clear up Rand's pandering

Maybe he should have been arrested for marijuana use back in his college days. I think the jail time would make him wiser about drug laws. Perhaps a libertarian think tank should examine all the state laws to see if there is a state whose statute of limitations on drug use hasnt expired for Rand's college days. I bet he would change his mind pretty quickly about whether there should be laws against drug use.

Reagan 2.0

Reagan 2.0

Simple Facts and Plain Arguments
A common sense take on politics and current events.


To clarify

He doesn't mean that as a compliment ( I believe)

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

Why get caught up on labels?

Patrick Henry is my favorite 'founder' yet he wanted to establish a tax assessment for a State religion. I'll over-look that because what he actually did for the cause of liberty is far greater than this one 'slight'.
Thomas Jefferson hated Patrick Henry, wrote in code to Madison that “What we have to do I think is devoutly to pray for his [Henry’s] death,” and often comes off as petty and misguided (read the Dumas books to understand what I'm talking about), but I'll forgive him those slights because what he did for the cause of liberty is far greater than those slights.
George Washington ok'd the first central bank, but I'll forgive him that slight because of what he did for the cause of liberty.
Perfection does not exist in this world and if you think there will be anyone who will do everything 100% perfect according to your view you will always be disappointed. I don't call myself 'libertarian' - I will not be put in a box.
Please stop with your strict constructionalist view of what a 'libertarian' 'has-to-be'. I agree the War on Drugs must end, but I would not inhibit a free State to create whatever laws it wishes concerning drugs if that's the will of the people of that state.

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
James Madison

So since perfection doesn't exist

We cannot criticize the positions of anyone that bears the name "libertarian" or "Paul".

So a war on drugs is ok as long as it's kept at the state level?

Can't we just say it's WRONG to put someone in a CAGE for putting a substance in their body?

When so many new people coming into the movement, there will be co-opters and opportunists pretending to be libertarian left and right. It's important to clarify what a libertarian position is on things, and what other way to do that than to have the conversation?

It's unbelievable to me when I see so many Ron Paul supporters blindly defending this stuff.

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

It depends on what you're criticizing them for

I could care less what you criticize Rand for re: his positions, but when you go after someone for defining themself in a certain way I will defend that person's right to label himself in whatever way he wants.
The liberty movement isn't about being libertarian, it's about upholding founding principles and founding documents.
I won't criticize Rand for how he describes himself. And that's what your post is doing. When the time comes, I'll judge Rand on how he voted and not on what he says. That's how it's supposed to be done.
I'm totally bored with dividing people up into boxes that never fit. This country would be much better off if all these factions would just go away.

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
James Madison

If you read my article

You'd see the crux of it is to criticize his comments assuring that he is not for drug legalization. The libertarian label is a side issue; my specific critique is of his position, not his label.

In fact, I find his rejection of the libertarian label appropriate.

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

That's a fair critique

but as a federal official, he still holds the correct position of letting states decide.

Would I want Rand to lead the charge in Kentucky to legalize all drugs in his state, sure, but he's chosen the route to let others take that lead and to not let the drug issue be his central focus when running for President.

We can have Rand in a position to not prosecute or prioritize federal drug laws while respecting states rights and have people like Ron and Gary Johnson advocating states to pass laws to legalize drugs.

In terms of legalizing

In terms of legalizing drugs...Rand has taken an indirect route. I like how he's spearheading the legalization of hemp in KY. And the fact that he dragged McConnell to his side on this issue.

In my opinion, Rand has taken the first incremental step to legalization of drugs. He's brilliant!

Since perfection doesn't exist

Thou shall not criticize anyone!

that's crap and you know it

snarky will get you no where

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
James Madison

You are right of course

but hey ... I'm not perfect. Muwahahaha!

What war on drugs does Rand support?

Rand said he doesnt want to throw people in jail for smoking pot, he supports treatment centers instead of jail and he supports states like Colorado and Washington who have legalized pot.

What is this war that Rand supports?

He also said

He also said he wasn't for "legalizing heroin" and was for some "limits", so what does that mean then?

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

I don't know because

there are no quotes from Rand on limits.

There are reports on what he said but without the full transcript, how can anyone know? Tell me exactly what he said then I'll try to interpret it.

You didn't answer my original question though.

What war on drugs does Rand support? Does he support locking people up for smoking pot? Does he think states are overstepping their authorities by legalizing marijuana? Does he support spending more money on federal drug raids?

What I don't get about all

What I don't get about all these Rand supporters on DP is they seem to think Rand is something he's bent over backwards proclaiming he's not.

If Rand were elected President (and I think it's a real possibility) do you honestly in your heart of hearts even remotely see him:

1. Ending the Fed
2. Ending the war on drugs
3. Closing Guantanamo
4. Closing overseas bases
5. Defying Israel and working for ACTUAL peace

I just can't find a single issue his father fought all his life for even being touched by Rand Paul. If you do, please enlighten me.

Even Ron Paul wouldn't End

Even Ron Paul wouldn't End the Fed. He'd just open it up to competition.

"The Fed will end itself with its suicidal policies." -Ron Paul

Remember when....

Ron Paul was openly honest about everything he intended to do, which would have essentially dismantled our current state of government?

We have to consider the intellectual level of our nation, those who would be supports of a Rand Paul Presidential run.

I agree, it is disturbing that someone I respect is playing both sides... though, is there no other way to infiltrate the system other than cloaking oneself in a similar image?

Rand knows what he is doing, he knows the political tactics that win.. when you win and become president... the state of the union address becomes the first door to open in the intellectual liberation.

They that give up liberty for security deserve neither.

Another great article, Marc!

I completely agree. I don't see Rand as being even remotely libertarian. I can't think of one issue that he is libertarian on except the recent immigration reform bill, which now Ron has explicitly denounced as the last step to the Orwellian State.

Thanks for continuing to bring this up. If libertarians continue to argue that Rand represents libertarianism I am afraid much damage will result. I think Rand has already damaged the clean image Ron left on the liberty movement.

I can think of one issue...

Rand is pushing hard for legalization of hemp at both the state and federal level. Is that considered libertarian?


That is one. I thought of another. He did introduce Audit the Fed in the Senate. I am just not sure if he gave up on that now. I wished he would just not stop at hemp though.

In the past...

-he took on the TSA personally! and made huge news
-he filabustered against drones
-he argued vehemently against govt regulating our toilets

Overall I think he's doing more for liberty than anyone else. It's quite an over-the-top statement to say Rand isn't even remotely libertarian. : \


it's only skin deep.
Please do not take it in a bad way. We are not 'haters'. We are realists. I hope y'all are right. But day by day the chances are more and more remote.
We are still on the same team though, eh?

I was stoked directly following the filibuster. But by the next day...case closed. Drones are fine now; here, there, or anywhere. Rand, intentionally or not, brought the subject to light, settled, and restructured the debate. So now, drones are okay; here, there, and everywhere. And just because a 'libertarian conservative' said so. He is not my spokesperson by any stretch of the imagination. Drones are not okay for the State's unfettered use.

Regarding drones...

it was horrendously misinterpreted how Rand ended that discussion.

I remember him clearly saying that Obama "intends" not to use drones. And Rand deeply criticized that Obama only "intends" to not use drones, however, he still might use them! Rand said this over and over.

Rand was only okay with drone use in an active gun fight or a clearly emergent situation. Not for surveillance purposes.

I hear ya. I acknowledge that I am placing a certain amount of trust in Rand Paul. But from his actions I've described earlier I can say that he's earned my trust. But to each his own. I have nothing against people holding Rand accountable. In terms of being a realist, I just like to remind critics that he HAS done more good than others out there in the liberty movement.

We'll all keep an eye on Rand and see if gets better or worse.

Thanks, dducks!

Thanks for the support, it can feel lonely here sometimes with all the down votes...but they only encourage me to keep going and speak truthfully. I'm not going to defend a politician for taking a non-libertarian position just because of peer pressure or misguided political reasoning.

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*