The recent announcement that Rand Paul has decided to run for President has triggered a range of responses from libertarians. Some are celebrating it and want all libertarians to get behind his candidacy while others are critical of some of his positions and want nothing to do with him. I’m personally not sold on him and to this point think he’s a far cry from his father, but that doesn’t mean his potential presidency wouldn’t be a good thing.
Many libertarians will point to any number of the more statist policies that Rand Paul supports (or doesn’t say he doesn’t support). If Paul supports something that infringes on liberty, their critiques would be correct. Even if Paul tried to institute many libertarian policies, if all of his policies are not libertarian in nature, he would still be subjecting people to some degree of harmful coercion.
Consider this comparison: choosing between Rand Paul and another presidential hopeful would be like walking down the street and getting stopped by a mugger who says, “I’m either going to slap you in the face or stab you in the stomach with a knife.” The mugger does not have the right to do either of those things to you and you can try to explain natural rights to him all you want, but he’s going to stab or slap you either way. It would be smart to choose to be slapped in the face.
It is very difficult to be patient with the advancement of liberty, but any sort of transition to a libertarian society is not going to happen overnight. And how that transition will happen is unknown. Will the state become obsolete due to technological advances or simply because it falls out of favor with the majority of people? Will the state become undone through political means? Your guess is as good as mine.
Because of this, it’s best to do whatever you can to advance the cause of liberty. Will Rand Paul be the libertarian some hope he will be if elected President? To quote Jeffrey Tucker, I don’t know. But I do know that the chances that he’ll be worse than any of the other candidates are quite slim.
There is good already associated with Paul’s candidacy. We’ve gotten to the point where someone associated with libertarianism is able to announce that he’s running without most people saying “Who?” or “He’s just some crazy old guy.”
So keep doing what you’re doing to try to make the world as free as possible and be patient with your brethren doing the same even if they do it differently.