For many libertarians, this morning was a heartbreaker of a start. Senator Rand Paul, after a poor showing at the Iowa caucus, has dropped out of the presidential race.
How did this happen though? How did the movement get to this point?
Senator Paul’s father, former Congressman Ron Paul, landed in a competitive third place in Iowa and ended up eventually claiming their delegation. He turned Maine into a delegate battleground and led a hard fight all the way to the National Convention.
Senator Paul is done after Iowa.
The campaign itself was a mess and Senator Paul himself was guilty of poor strategy. Instead of being the clear standard-bearer of libertarian principles, he often appeared confused and his campaign complacent.
For the last four years, Senator Paul’s strategy has been an apparent infiltration strategy that saw him cuddling up to establishment figures. He endorsed Mitt Romney for President for example, while his father was still technically in the race and battling the RNC.
From that point, Senator Paul embraced Mitch McConnell while endorsing moderate politicians like Maine’s own Susan Collins.
The claim by many supporters is this would position him to win their support while keeping the libertarian vote. This backfired a great deal.
The Republican establishment was never going to support Senator Paul over say, Jeb Bush or Senator Marco Rubio. By doing this, while Senator Paul thought he was using the Party, it was actually the other way around.
At the same time, many libertarians became alienated by him selling out his principles and the movement. Whether or not he actually believed what he was saying in these endorsements is irrelevant, it was a poorly conceived strategy that was destined for failure from the beginning. And it did fail.
It only grew worse after controversial businessman Donald Trump entered the presidential race, leading some candidates to become anti-Trump proxies for the establishment.
Senator Paul joined in.
Whether Trump is an authentic conservative or a political opportunist is irrelevant. He and Senator Paul shared the same anti-establishment base and the Republican establishment despised Trump almost as much as it does the libertarian message.
So what happened when Senator Paul abandoned the libertarian message to devote all of his time to Trump? He helped the same Republican elite that burned his father four years ago.
In the end, Senator Paul has a lot of potential in the United States Senate. He made many tactical mistakes to this point and has time to learn from them.
If Senator Paul does plan to run for President again someday, he needs to stop the camouflage strategy. Nobody notices him when he blends in with the rest of the pack.
Be different, Senator Paul. Stand on your foundation and don’t step down. Unwavering principles is what gave former Congressman Paul an enormous movement that shook the Republican Party and fought the elite to the very end.
Society is now more receptive to libertarianism than it ever has been. This presidential race didn’t need another conservative moderate who plays ball with the elite, it needed a firm libertarian who stood his ground.
Lead us in the Senate, Rand.