I was sent a Facebook message a couple of days ago by a Facebook friend (someone who I am pretty sure I have never met in real life). He apparently had a problem with me posting an article critical of Rand Paul and wanted to know why I wasn’t voting for him. He also mentioned that I am the only libertarian he knows who doesn’t support Rand Paul. I responded to him quickly from my phone but I figured this might be worth a blog post.
First, I am hardly the only libertarian who doesn’t support Paul for President. I’m sure there are many. Second, it is possible to be critical of a person on particular issues, even publicly so, and still support them during an election. Humans are not perfect beings and we do ourselves (and our leaders) a disservice when we turn a blind eye to their faults, even if it is in the name of some sort of solidarity. Deifying a person is a cult mentality and it is dangerous.
Now to the meat of things…
As a pragmatic anarchist I find voting in national elections an utter waste of time, unless I live in a swing state and the viable candidates are so different that one is clearly a better option. If I lived in a swing state and the two candidates for President were Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum I would find my way to the polls and make a defensive vote against the crazy theocrat. But, that isn’t the case for me. I am registered to vote in Missouri and will likely be somewhere in New York when the election happens in 2016. It is a waste of my time to go to a poll and cast a vote that will make no impact on anything. If someone held a gun to my head and told me to vote I would make a protest vote against the two-party system and vote Libertarian. My view on local and state elections are a little more sympathetic because the people can vote to change specific laws. I think everyone should vote in their state or communities to legalize marijuana, lower taxes, etc, voting on local issues (especially if you avoid voting for specific politicians) is a form of direct action that can bring about real change. Politicians are little more than delayed signals to social norms, they aren’t leaders and rarely make any changes that couldn’t have been made faster if we just got rid of them.
Anarchism and elections aside, I don’t trust Rand Paul. His religious boot-licking that he has been doing recently disgusts me and his views on non-heterosexual relationships are a worry for me. I know people say he is just being pragmatic by appealing to the religious right in order to get elected, but why should I believe he is lying to them but not to liberty lovers. I don’t have any reason to believe he is somehow being covert and won’t just turn his back on his liberty-based promises when it becomes politically expedient. Also, I do think it is a serious problem that he “wrote” a book that used fake Founding Father’s quotes in order to continue spreading the mythology that the Founding Father’s wanted a Christian country or that they were Christians. Some of them might have been but it is much more complicated than that and his lack of integrity in this matter is concerning. I know he has done some good things with prison reform and has decent views on the drug war, but so do other political candidates who don’t get in bed with theocrats. His real strength could be changing the national dialogue by continuing to filibuster and working across the aisle in the Senate to expand freedom, he can shift the Overton Window that future politicians can work in. Even if he did get elected (which he probably won’t) he would be facing a hostile House and Senate, and it is possible that every problem that happens in the country would be blamed on libertarianism. Every military death will be blamed on his dove foreign policy and every economic problem will be blamed on the free market. Getting a libertarian-leaning person into the White House without some support from Congress could be a huge step back for libertarian politics.
So no, I won’t be voting for Rand Paul. I don’t really care if other people do, they can have fun. I don’t think he has a rat’s chance in hell of winning, but if people want to spend their time and money on his campaign go for it. I did the same thing for Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012, which was a little bit of a waste of time but I had some good times with like-minded individuals and I was able to get politicking out of my system early. But, this election cycle (which seems to already be too long) I will not really be paying attention or caring about what is going on with the GOP psychopaths. I’ve got too much else to do with my time.