Rand Paul Demise: Botched Campaign or Apathy on Freedom?

Rand Paul announced that he is suspending his presidential campaign this morning.  How much of the demise of the Rand Paul’s effort was due to poor campaign tactics vs. voters not giving a damn about freedom?

In Iowa, Rand’s campaign targeted student voters.  But as David Weigel of the Washington Post noted, that tactic fizzled badly. Drew Ivers, Ron Paul’s 2012 Iowa chief, told the Post: “His decision to move to the middle… sent us a real signal about the application of his ideology. He muddled on his message, tried to get the left, and I told him it would backfire. … I just saw someone trying to do too much and be too many things to too many people.” A Buzzfeed analysis quoted “source close to the campaign” on Steve Grubbs, the campaign’s chief Iowa strategist:  “It seemed like he was more concerned with t-shirts than getting out the vote or the caucuses.” The Atlantic’s Molly Ball noted that she gave up writing a profile of Rand Paul’s campaign early on “in part because of the frustration of dealing with Paul’s disastrous communications staff.”

I was surprised how Rand framed the drug war – as if his primary concern was disproportionate arrests and jailings of minorities.  Feds don’t have a right to bust any marijuana smoker.  That could have been a much more compelling message to the 10+ million Americans who have been unjustifiably arrested for narcotics violations.  Also, with the heroin overdose epidemic in NH, simple words of truth could have resonated strongly there.

In football terms, Rand started his prez campaign on the 50-yard line and ended  by punting from his own end zone. He was a frontrunner in 2014 before formally entering the race.

According to the Washington Post’s Chris Cizzilla, “Rand Paul probably lost the 2016 presidential race on Aug. 19, 2014. That was the day James Foley was beheaded.” But Ron Paul’s 2008 prez campaign thrived in a far more difficult foreign policy atmosphere than Rand Paul faced in 2016. Warmongers redefined American politics after the rise of ISIS – in part because of the lack of pushback from folks like Rand Paul.

On the other hand, it is unclear how many Americans still give a damn about freedom.  If folks are more enthused about carpet bombing foreigners than leashing Leviathan, any pro-freedom candidate will have a hard row to hoe. There is plenty of evidence of appalling apathy on freedom in this nation.

Rand Paul had quite a few excellent riffs in the debates. Especially on foreign policy, his comments were far sounder & saner than many of his Republican competitors.  But his signing of the anti-Iran letter from Sen. Cotton was the final strike against him for many potential supporters.

Unfortunately, we still do not know how much support a well-run pro-freedom campaign could draw.

Rand Paul has done heroic work in the Senate on drone killings, NSA spying, the Federal Reserve, and other issues. I  hope he is reelected and continues to do champion liberty in the Senate. His best days may be ahead of him.  

UPDATE: Rand was doing worse in NH polls than I assumed – only 2.8%, according to a Daily Beast piece. Lordie, NH should have been his natural turf – esp. with the Free State Project activists there. I am mystified how he could poll so badly there but I can better understand why he threw in the towel before what might have been a debacle result.


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9 Responses to Rand Paul Demise: Botched Campaign or Apathy on Freedom?

  1. Scott Lazarowitz February 3, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

    He knows the ideas of Rothbard, Mises, and Hayek, but for the sake of political advancement he chose to reject them and side with the neocons, and he compromised on principles in many domestic issues as well. For an ophthalmologist, he certainly doesn’t see things clearly enough.

    It would have also helped to not throw his father under the bus throughout the whole campaign.

    • Jim February 3, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

      Excellent points. Hayek would have been a good bellwether for his campaign but I guess he chose differently

  2. John February 3, 2016 at 10:43 pm #

    If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing. Too much fence walking. Assad is a terrible dictator (to appeal to the neocons) but we need to get out of the biz of regime change because it hasn’t worked. On the contrary, it has worked perfectly for neocons objectives, just not for Americans or the people of those violated nations. Putin is a bad guy too, but we should not go to war with Russia.

    He could not fill his father’s shoes. Not many could. More interested in popularity than integrity. He tried to appeal to everyone and ended up with nobody.

  3. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit February 4, 2016 at 10:25 am #

    “Politician.” ‘Nuff said right there.

    But I’ll add in a soupçon of “people aren’t really interested in freedom, per se.” Oh, they like freedom for themselves and their friends and family, but freedom for “others” is not terribly high on their priority lists. Particularly when that “freedom” can appear to impact their own security, or worse, their repressed sadistic urges.

    • Jim February 4, 2016 at 10:32 am #

      Geez. Did you fail High School Civics, or what?

  4. Scott Semans February 4, 2016 at 11:54 am #

    He failed because he was trying to win, that simple. Paul, Sr. was there to advertise the message and build a movement, and he succeeded. If integrity is not a trait passed on in the genes, can it be forged in the crucible of failure? Show us some Extremism in the Cause of Liberty and maybe your own supporters won’t have second thoughts about how you would perform as President.

  5. Butler Reynolds February 4, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

    I guess it was worth the effort to try something different than his dad. How can it be easy to wed evangelical voters with the more libertarian wing of the party? Not a job I’d care for.

    In prior elections and as we’re seeing now the Cruz, the more libertarian side is simply trying to pick the lesser of evils and uncomfortably justifying their choice.

  6. Jim February 5, 2016 at 4:03 pm #

    Here’s a comment from FreedomsPhoenix on this post:

    Comment by Jesse Porter Entered on: 2/5/2016 8:53:15 AM

    Botched campaign? Freedom apathy? Whose?

    Friends of freedom consistently eat their young. Your piling on Rand Paul only discourages his or his like’s future. Rand did as much for libertarian politics as his father, voting and arguing in congress for the cause of liberty.

    I only hope that Rand will either run as an independent or on a Libertarian, Constitution or other third party ticket. The Republican Party is a lost cause. The lemmings who run it have well earned a giant leap from mankind.


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