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Atlantic: America's Libertarian Moment

A longtime libertarian policy wonk talks about whether the philosophy can save the GOP -- and why he still doesn't think Rand Paul can win the presidency.

MOLLY BALL AUG 18 2013, 7:00 AM ET

Libertarianism is on the march. From the rapid rise to prominence of first-term Senator Rand Paul to the state-level movements to legalize gay marriage and marijuana, the philosophy of fiscal conservatism, social liberalism, and restrained foreign policy seems to be gaining currency in American politics. But it's nothing new, of course. (New York Times Magazine, 1971: "The New Right Credo: Libertarianism.") A lonely band of libertarian thinkers have been propounding this philosophy since the 1960s, when the late thinker Murray Rothbard published his first book, Reason magazine was founded, and, in 1974, Rothbard teamed up with Charles Koch and Ed Crane to found the Cato Institute, one of Washington's most influential think tanks.

David Boaz, Cato's executive vice president, has been with the organization since 1981, giving him a good perch to put the current libertarian vogue in perspective. In an interview this week, we talked about the political currents propelling libertarianism into the political mainstream, the Supreme Court's libertarian turn, whether Paul will be our next president, and much more. This is an edited transcript of our conversation.


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Rand Paul clearly supports

Rand Paul clearly supports state rights over individual rights straight from the panderers mouth not mine.

prove me wrong. You cannot since rand paul clearly took this position and repeats it like a broken record. Especially to the right wing pro drug war /war mongers.

You cannot prove me wrong since rand paul has repeated this talking point over and over and over and over at gop meetings.

Ron Paul 2016

Possibly for this reason

Coming out in support of certain hard-wired brainwashed issues supported by all the forces of money power, political demagoguery and 24/7 corporate / state propaganda networks IS political suicide.

Political. Suicide.

Rand didn't invent the Game, he's opted to play in the Game, and the Game is THEIR Game, with rules that are already in place.

If he doesn't play in that Game, they will shove him out. The same way they did with his dad.

And the American sheeple will go right along with it, because a sizable percentage are still in denial, have no principles, cannot follow a common sense debate, and / or are completely oblivious and in la la land.

Come out too far in favor of drug legalization. SUICIDE.

Come out in favor of hemp legalization instead, as a stepping stone? SMART

Come out too far in favor of withdrawing support for Israel? SUICIDE

Come out in favor of starting by withdrawing foreign aid from 'muslim' countries (ie. 'the other guys') that hate the US SMART

Since most of the people bashing Rand for every detail of what he does are armchair internet quarterbacks waiting for the perfect libertarian chosen one to take Dr Paul's place ...

They completely overlook Reality in their quest for the Holy Grail. They are ready to shoot some of their only allies that are actually in a position to reverse course in time to salvage anything at all from the sinking ship.

Until there will be no-one left down there doing anything at all to stop this madness.

I'd rather have him waffle on drugs and some foreign policy issues to get elected, than copy cat his dad, win the hearts and mind of people but get railroaded out of the party completely.

Some of you would rather him get railroaded out of the party - and the Game - completely. It's "more honest".


Great article.

Great article.

Check out http://ronpaulforums.com for activism and news.

Good article and solid

Good article and solid political analysis by Boaz, especially on the gay marriage issue.

Rand has a decent chance to gain the GOP nomination but he has a very tough row to hoe to capture enough of the youth vote to win the presidency assuming his D opponent is pro gay marriage. His "leave it up to the states" position ain't gonna fly with the kids, who are adamant about gay acceptance, and were he to switch and take a pro gay marriage stance he's gonna lose a lot of the traditional right.

Even on this site there have been knock down drag outs on this issue. It's not one that can be straddled.

IMO Rand has to adopt the libertarian position on this and convince the right to go along if he's to win the general. I like Rand, but I don't think the right is ready for this yet.

I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be. Albert Einstein

I don't think Rand should take a "pro-gay marriage" stance.

After all, that's NOT the libertarian position.

The libertarian position is that government should have NO SAY on marriage at all - gay OR straight.

He should take the position that marriage should be a private contract, that may or may not involve a church, and that the government, at any level, should BUTT OUT.

He should state that loudly and consistently, and pepper it with lots of calls for 'tolerance'.

leave it up to the states

leave it up to the states doesn't fly with me at all and i am 46. I was a republican delegate for 9 years now and i have NO PLANS to be A DELEGATE for rand paul as he is taking state rights over individual rights. I do not need rand paul and will not be supporting him because of his bs pandering to the very part of the party that is destroying america and the gop.

Rand Paul can stay in kentucky we do not need him in Colorado ,Our Colorado Voters will take of these gun grabbers(politicians did this not the people of colorado) and pro drug war right wing nuts that rand seems to pander to.

As for the issues in colorado such as legal marijuana and medical. WE THE PEOPLE IN COLORADO did it not the bs politicians sitting on their asses doing anything. NULLIFY THEM ALL

Rand Pauls positions on the drug war are clealry state rights over individual rights, remove your head from your asses folks and wake the f up. rand is clearly supporting states rights over individual rights prove me wrong. His own words clearly show this position be mad at rand not me for his BS.

whoever donwvoted me, you are more then welcome to move your lazy ass to my county and be a delegate,you are so blinded by rand pauls bs position on the drug war.

Ron Paul 2016

Once Again, They Get It Wrong

They say we are for:

"fiscal conservatism, social liberalism, and restrained foreign policy"

In reality we are for:

"fiscal constitutionalism, social constitutionalism, and constitutional foreign policy"

We call it the "Liberty Movement"

We call it the "Liberty Movement" here, thanks.

FRONT PAGE please! & of course, thanks for the link, PN !!!

Though personally, while the only libertarian-ish leaning leftist at the Atlantic Conor Friedersdorf, is the only one I can somewhat stomach, and can't stand the Atlantic as well as, to a certain extent, Molly Ball, who's been on the Paul family beat for awhile now, that said, what pisses me off more, is that FAKEtarian STATOlogist Dave Boaz at CATO spouting this perpetual loser meme!

Boaz's profession is a perpetual yapper for the Libertarian-lite KOCHtopus faketarian face in MSM politics. He's no academic or an intellectual. He's never been about pure principled consistency. His sole job is to be a good little PR-twit for his KOCHtopus' own version of 'Libertarianism.'

So then, the REAL question is: WHY THE FCUK would you want to constantly, consistently, pre-sabotage yourself and others' efforts by constantly regurgitating 'libertarians can't win high public offices, especially something like the presidency'-NONSENSE, when your own livelihood has never been about philosophical purity, where if you were to 'lie' to the MSM, as IF it'll destroy your moral compass or something, in the first place??

To wit; assuming that Molly Ball is telling the truth and while edited, transcribing her interview with David Boaz honestly and accurately:

My guess is that Rand Paul will make a serious bid for the Republican nomination. If had to bet on Rand Paul versus the field, I'd take the field. After that, I don't know. There will be more libertarian-leaning politicians in Congress, but we're a long way from being a caucus at this point. What's more important is what do the Republicans and Democrats who actually get elected want to do. I hope they will recognize that the country wants to move in a more tolerant direction on marriage and marijuana, and that we are overextended financially and need to restrain spending and the entitlement state.

Like WTF? He's already making a speculative point; he's not REALLY wagering anything, and his immediate after response to him mulling he'd bet on the field is, "I don't know."

So ALL he HAD to SAY was "I don't know if America is ready for a libertarian President, but if anyone has a chance, it's Rand Paul. And so far, the trajectory he's on, it's looking very good."

That, literally would be NO LIE!

If Boaz had said that:

1. he'd be correct,
2. would be a right reading of the current political reality.
3. "Hopeful chances" is ALL perception posturing, which has far more significance in the formulating stages of an election cycle!

And let's face it, while no one is expecting Boaz to act as if he's a Rand Paul campaign staffer, Dave Boaz is NOT some philosophically consistent, pure libertarian intellectual. As such, is it too much to ask, that he at least NOT PLANT a negative loser meme, out into the political blogosphere, when a leftist from the Atlantic comes asking for your 'libertarian views' because in her perfunctory uneducated ill-informed summation, you Dave Boaz look somewhat like an influential 'libertarian mind' (clearly he's NOT)???

Is that really too much to ask of a PR-twit who's out there supposedly preaching the 'libertarian' gospels, whom one would assume would want to grow your numbers, seeing as how he clearly accepts and operates under the assumption that electoral politics via proper policy, IS how you get a more 'libertarian' society?

Seriously, Boaz, if you're not gonna really help, can you at least, for once, STFU & GTFO the way?

You gotta love all these post-Ron Paul coattail riders.

It was hilarious actually reading a transcript of Boaz where he actually, finally uttered the term "noninterventionist" for the first time in years, when he specifically INTENTIONALLY MADE SURE to link "isolationist" to Dr. Ronald Ernest Paul for BOTH RP2008 and RP2012. And, every time Boaz called Dr. Paul an "isolationist" he said it in a tone packed full of what any MSDNC hack would utter with equal venom the word, "racist."

Now, Boaz is 'suddenly' freely using "non-interventionist" in the same sentence with with someone with "Paul" as his last name??

LOL! Boaz, What a poseur!

So sick of these political opportunists!

It's like you don't see Molly Ball actually interviewing someone like Lew Rockwell, a Paul family confidant of many years, who is FAR closer to the specific strain of libertarianism that the Pauls believe in, than the Koch's ilk like Boaz will ever be, to get an ACTUAL 'inside scoop' to properly gauge Rand Paul, the man you're profiling and asking libertarianism in context of, no?

Oy veh!


P.S. My dearest P. Nick, the above commentary has ZERO to do with ya; love ya for posting the link! .0)

It's specifically about Molly Ball, the author of the article, but more particularly, about the disgusting way in which how slyly David Boaz has been smearing Dr. Paul, the Paul family as a whole, along with his arch-'nemesis' Lew Rockwell & the Mises/Austrian AnCap-set, after ever since the Rothbard - CATO separation.

Now, I'm off to begrudgingly give them one more web traffic count .o(

P.S.2. I realize the change in tone in my recent posts; they're more freely potty-mouthed than before!


Guess, I just can't help but to show my utter disdain for the current trajectory of psycho-geopolitics.

That said, I like to personally apologize to those who may not enjoy the harsher rhetoric, even though the tyrants and their sycophantic turds deserve much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, more than mere harsh words: like actual perpetual multiple life sentences to be wasted away at all those 'suites' they built with corporatist contracts at their one of their numerous private prison industrial complex operations. Plus, they can work to feed themselves until they fully complete their sentences. lol...er.. .o(

Predictions in due Time...

"Let it not be said that no one cared, that no one objected once it's realized that our liberties and wealth are in jeopardy." - Dr. Ronald Ernest Paul