As we covered here briefly last week, the Campaign for Liberty (C4L) released a “Technology Manifesto” that has been accepted in a very broad sense by libertarians, while also being roundly (and rightly) criticized for separating from true libertarian ideology. We will also have our own piece discussing true internet freedom & libertarianism posted soon. Both Ron and Rand Paul signed off and supported this most recent declaration from the C4L, an organization originally created as a support tool for Ron Paul’s presidential run in 2008, but has since taken on its own life.
I’ve seen much debate on the document itself and many are questioning why Ron and Rand would sign off as supporters on a document that is fundamentally flawed in many libertarian principles (particularly IP) , but the answer to me seems very simple. This document sets the stage for Rand Paul to take up the torch and carry the Campaign for Liberty as his fundraising support and information arm just as his father did. However, Rand Paul’s politics do not follow lockstep with libertarian values like Ron’s and that is where we see why and how this document is so key.
The “Technology Manifesto” professes its love of internet freedom, while mainly toeing the conservative line, which intersects libertarianism in this case at multiple points. This plays into Rand Paul’s wheelhouse, as someone who has made internet freedom one of his main issues during his time in office, and even cited the cause as one that he knew Ron Paul supporters were ardent about during an interview on Sean Hannity’s radio broadcast:
“My dad has a legion of young followers who are on the Internet,” Paul told Fox News host Sean Hannity, “and they think they rule the Internet and maybe they do or maybe they don’t, but they’re very concerned about the freedom of the Internet.”
Of course, Rand Paul’s support of Romney produced a massive backlash from the liberty community, and Rand now needs a document, co-sponsored by Ron Paul, that (broadly) supports the cause of liberty, while also staying more or less in line with traditional conservative thinking. Rand Paul is using this document (and I suspect many more in the coming months) to slowly work in his politics, which are more aligned with mainstream conservatism. He is appealing to libertarian citizens and the C4L, in an attempt to continue receiving support from a powerful news/propaganda and fundraising entity.
Ron Paul is going to retire after this campaign – he has already declared his intention to do so. So as strong as his values are, he is supporting this imperfect document to help his son enamor himself again with the liberty crowd, whom Rand has fallen out of favor with. And by focusing not on the Federal Reserve, which is being audited but is still quite strong (the Ron Paul campaign slogan is now “Audit the Fed” rather than “End the Fed”), he allows his son to focus on a topic that he can take a straighter libertarian stance on and that won’t ruffle any GOP establishment feathers like attacking the Fed would. Thus, Rand can both cuddle up to his father’s libertarian base while also making sure he stays tight with the GOP establishment that can help facilitate a presidential run.
The torch has been passed – it remains to see if Rand will be able to keep it lit, or if the winds generated by the howls of true libertarians will snuff if out. At the end of the day, Rand Paul is not the ideal libertarian candidate, however he is far closer to that ideal than any other options currently on the table, and his continued presence in the public eye only helps to further the educational aspects of liberty.
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