Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why Rand Paul's Campaign Will Never Succeed

Rand PaulEarlier today Rand Paul announced to his supporters in Louisville, Kentucky, that he is officially running for President. He stood before the enthusiastic crowd, and spoke of defeating the Washington machine, reining in special interests, and returning our government to its constitutional limits. While these are all worthy goals, one must wonder if he has taken the right approach.

See, Rand is quite similar to his father in many ways, but he's also quite different. On the surface he has taken many of the same stances his father took. In the past he has been an advocate for civil liberties and a non-interventionist foreign policy, but unlike Ron Paul, he doesn't have the same moral consistency. He has supported things his father never would like voting to increase defense spending, or supporting air strikes against ISIS, and pushing for the Trans Pacific Partnership.

He is basically the moderate version of his father, suspended between the mainstream Republicans and Ron Paul's small voting block. It looks to me like he's trying to have his cake and eat it too. He knows that the Republican party is split between neoconservatives and moderate libertarians, and he knows that he will need the support of both to become president.

He can’t just cater to the libertarians like his father did. That group is too small to capture the Republican nomination, but he can’t throw all his weight behind the neocons either. It's unlikely the American public would elect another neocon Republican like Jeb Bush. Plus there's too much competition for the mainstream conservative vote. There's already a bushel of candidates all vying for that demographic.

So he uses libertarian rhetoric in his speeches, while still toeing the neocon line when he has to. He's trying to maintain the reluctant support of his father's movement while still staying in the good graces of the neocons and the establishment. If you've ever tried to keep two girlfriends at the same time while maintaining their willful ignorance of each other, you probably know what Rand Paul is going through.

The only problem with Paul's strategy, is that these two forces are completely irreconcilable, especially when it comes to his father's movement. Ron Paul touted himself as an uncompromising purist, and that's the crowd he has attracted. It's hard to say how many of Ron's supporters are going to lift a finger for his son.

Meanwhile, the mainstream Republicans know that Rand is not cut from the same cloth. He can show his face on Sean Hannity's show all he wants, but he'll never get their vote in significant numbers. In short, he's not enough of a non-interventionist for his father's voters, and he's not enough of a warmonger to capture the neocon vote. He wants the best of both worlds, but in all likelihood, he won't capture either of them. I guess if there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that moral ambiguity and flip flopping will eventually catch up with you. Nobody respects it, except for the masses of ignorant voters who can't see through it.

Shucks, maybe he will win.

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