In a Washington Post article titled “Sen. Rand Paul aggressively courting evangelicals to win over GOP establishment”, we are reminded once again that the Senator from Kentucky is not a libertarian. In fact, he says so himself. From the article:
For the past few months, though, Paul has aggressively courted evangelicals, not only with the CBN special but also with a trip to Israel, numerous events with pastors and a handful of appearances in Iowa this weekend.
Paul’s play for evangelical support is part of a broader effort by the rookie senator to court the Republican establishment — much of which views him with suspicion — and become a mainstream political player in a way his father never was. The younger Paul, for instance, does not call himself a libertarian, but rather a “libertarian Republican.”
A-ha! Not a “libertarian”, just a “libertarian Republican”! I’ve heard this phrased used quite a bit, and I’m curious as to what exactly it means. It seems on the surface that it is meant to mean different things to different audiences. To libertarians, it is meant to assure them that Paul is indeed libertarian, while to the establishment and evangelicals he is attempting to pander to it is meant to assuage them that the he is merely “libertarian-leaning” and still a good Republican at heart.
As we’ve pointed out before, as Rand Paul gears up to run for president in 2016, he attempts to mix libertarian and establishment rhetoric, which tends to confuse the issues and upset many of those he is attempting to please.
The article goes on to describe Rand’s attempts to “clarify” his position on drug legalization (emphasis mine):
In an interview a day before his Iowa trip, Paul, 50, also tried to make clear just what kind of politician he is. “To some, ‘libertarian’ scares people,” he said. “Some of them come up to me and they say, ‘I kind of like you, but I don’t like legalizing heroin.’ And I say, ‘Well, that’s not my position.’ ”
Paul said he believes in freedom and wants a “virtuous society” where people practice “self-restraint.” Yet he believes in laws and limits as well. Instead of advocating for legalized drugs, for example, he pushes for reduced penalties for many drug offenses.
“I’m not advocating everyone go out and run around with no clothes on and smoke pot,” he said. “I’m not a libertarian. I’m a libertarian Republican. I’m a constitutional conservative.”
Here Paul not only seems to support the concept of the war on drugs, but even goes out of his way to smear not only libertarians but those who use marijuana for medicinal purposes as well. Paul plays into the notion often espoused by those in favor of the War on Drugs that anyone who advocates that people be free to put what they choose into their bodies are clearly in favor of the drug use itself, along with any other activity that may or may not be associated with it.
The philosophy of liberty merely allows that people be free to make their own choices, and that no man
has a right to use force to prevent anyone from doing so. When a libertarian calls for say, legalization of heroin, he is not calling for people to use heroin; rather, he is merely saying that force should not be used against this person, that he should not be thrown into a cage.
Paul then confuses things more by associating smoking pot with someone running around with no clothes on. If someone is running around with no clothes on, well that may certainly be an issue depending on whose property said person is on, and whether or not the property owner has rules concerning the wearing of clothes. It is unfair to associate marijuana users with this type of behavior, even in a joking manner, as every single day sick people who use marijuana to treat various diseases are thrown into jail and have their lives ruined by the War on Drugs.
Does Paul call for an end to this? No, but rather he calls for “reduced penalties” for “many” drug offenses. So it’s ok to throw some people in jail for some amount of time for nothing more than putting some substances into their body. How Paul defines who goes to jail for what amount of time for what substances I’m not sure. Perhaps he consults the Aqua Buddha!
While Paul may certainly be better than most politicians, I think it’s safe to say we should continue to take Rand Paul at his word: he is “not a libertarian”.