Libertarians are largely lost in the wilderness of the present era: wandering without a compass, either moral or ideological, and without a clue as to how to get home, never mind reach their ultimate goal of “freedom in our time.” Yes, that was the old slogan that we libertarians started out with: an optimistic battle-cry that, today, seems unrealistic, at best. But is it? And if it isn’t, who can show us the way forward?
My answer is simple: look at what Sen. Rand Paul is doing, and take a lesson. Instead of weeping and wailing about the loss of a “libertarian moment” that never really happened, Sen. Paul is making a difference. As Politico reports:
“Rand Paul has the ear, and the affection, of the most important person in the White House: President Donald Trump.
“Once bitter rivals on the Republican campaign trail, the Kentucky senator and the commander-in-chief have bonded over a shared delight in thumbing their noses at experts the president likes to deride as ‘foreign policy eggheads,’ including those who work in his own administration.”
When Trump appointed the hawkish John Bolton as his National Security Advisor, the usual suspects crowed that “the neocons have taken over the White House.” Never mind that a) Bolton is no neocon, and b) Trump is known for encouraging vigorous debate among his policy advisors while not necessarily agreeing with one or the other – these people, mostly alleged non-interventionists, hate the President for other reasons, and merely seized on the appointment as a convenient talking point. However, this narrative is contradicted by the reports of Sen. Paul’s increasing influence in the Oval Office:
“While Trump tolerates his hawkish advisers, the aide added, he shares a real bond with Paul: ‘He actually at gut level has the same instincts as Rand Paul.’”
“Paul has quietly emerged as an influential sounding board and useful ally for the president, who frequently clashes with his top advisers on foreign policy. The Kentucky senator’s relationship with Trump, developed via frequent cellphone calls and over rounds of golf at the president’s Virginia country club, became publicly apparent for the first time on Wednesday when the senator announced he had hand-delivered a letter to the Kremlin on Trump’s behalf.”
While the Beltway apparatus put together by the Kochs has jumped on the NeverTrump bandwagon with both feet, publicly declaring war on the administration and announcing a de facto alliance with the Democrats, Sen. Paul has made a difference in a key area that the Koch machine has largely abandoned or reversed itself: foreign policy. Here’s Politico again:
“Both Paul and Trump routinely rail against foreign entanglements, foreign wars, and foreign aid – positions characterized as isolationist by critics and as ‘America first’ by the president and his supporters. Even on points of where they disagree, Paul has extracted small victories.”
That one area is Iran, and even there it looks like Sen. Paul has his finger in the dike:
“But Trump has stopped short of calling for regime change even though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and Bolton support it, aligning with Paul instead, according to a GOP foreign policy expert in frequent contact with the White House. ‘Rand Paul has persuaded the president that we are not for regime change in Iran,’ this person said, because adopting that position would instigate another war in the Middle East.”
As the President launches peace initiatives from the Korean peninsula to the steppes of Russia, the virtue-signalers among us pretend that none of that is happening and obsessively descry the decision to exit the Iran deal. Yet where has all their moaning and groaning gotten them? Sen. Paul is single-handedly doing more for peace than any of these bloviating nonentities could dream of.
The hysteria aimed at the President is now directed at Sen. Paul, with the New York Times in what is perhaps mistakenly presented as a “news” article describing the Senator’s relationship with the White House in words that are clearly over the top:
“Suddenly, in the mind of the junior senator from Kentucky, Mr. Trump has soared from lower than that speck of dirt to high enough for Mount Rushmore.”
One imagines the foam-flecked computer screen of the author was quite a mess well before she reached the end of her jeremiad. Hatred for the President blends and merges with hatred for Russia as the Fourth Estate becomes an instrument in the hands of the War Party. Vanity Fair – that bastion of foreign policy expertise – shrieks that
“the unlikely, unholy alliance between Rand Paul and Donald Trump, one a libertarian iconoclast, the other the cancerous center of the Republican party” is upsetting to writer Tina Nguyen because the “far left and the far right” are “converging.” Or something. Peace with nuclear-armed Russia? That qualifies the Senator as a “wacko bird” and “Putin’s perfect stooge.”
Yeah, suuure it does, Tina: anything you say. Just like those who wanted to end the Vietnam war were “stooges” of Ho Chi Minh. Just like Ronald Reagan getting rid of a whole category of nukes made him a “stooge” of Gorbachev.
And to get down to the real intellectual heavyweight: S. E. Cupp, whose credentials seem to be phony glasses and blondness, vomits up her considered opinion that Sen. Paul is now Putin’s “errand boy.” Which is far better than being Max Boot’s errand girl, but don’t anyone tell Iraq war-supporting Ms. Cupp that she has blood on her hands. She feels no need to apologize.
Oh yes, the heavies are out in force, sliming Sen. Paul for defending the President’s Helsinki peace initiative with nuclear-armed Russia. Vanity Fair, S. E. Cupp – who’s next? Madonna? Women’s Wear Daily?
Rand Paul has gone from being an overly cautious presidential candidate who seemed scared of his own noninterventionist shadow to a principled statesman unafraid to take a stand for peace. He is a living example of how people – yes, even politicians – learn and change. His trip to Russia to bring a message of peace and détente at a time when the wolves of the War Party are howling ever louder was an act of courage that should have every person of good will standing and applauding.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.