Saturday, September 19, 2015

An Examination of How Rand Paul Did in the Debate

In an email exchange with Dr. Walter Block and Dr. Michael Edelstein, I was asked by Dr. Block what my take was on Rand's performance during this past week's Republican presidential debate.

The email exchange started with this email by Dr. Edelstein stating:
Walter, Your main man did quite well last evening for a Republican
 My view was quite different.

I see Rand as a government mechanic, By that I mean that he never ever objects to government but merely sees himself as the tweeker that would tweek government interventions both here and abroad.

I took extensive notes during the debate and will point to specifics in the debate where Rand displayed himself as a government mechanic rather than one who is opposed to  government interferences.

The first question that came up was on China. Rand said that "We don't need to be rash," when dealing with China. He said that we need "to engage" China and Russia. He then added that the US, though, should give "no free pass to Russia or China."

From a libertarian perspective, this raises the question, just what exactly are we not supposed to give Russia and China a free pass about? As far as I can tell, and I am right here on the West Coast shore, neither China nor Russia are invading the country?

What should we be concerned about with regard to these two countries that we make sure we don't give them "a free pass."  This is simply talk about government to government nonsense that only starts trouble between countries. It should be rejected by every serious libertarian.

Rand was, as per usual, against wars that have passed but said that in the future "wisdom on when we should intervene" must be applied. Again, why, from a libertarian perspective, should the US ever intervene overseas?

Rand then went on to talk about taxes. Not about cutting them but his tax plan, which he did not make clear during the debate, includes a value added tax.

When the discussion turned to drugs, Rand did not call for government to get out of the affairs of individuals. He said he was "a fan of the drug court." Jut why, from a libertarian perspective, do we need any type of court for drugs?

He also shifted the discussion to medical marijuana and away from a discussion of legalizing all marijuana use, never mind legalization of all drugs,

The debate turned to war again and Rand did not take the opportunity to make clear that the US, becasue of its geography and wealth, was extremely unlikely to be attacked, He said that war "was a last resort." And that he would "fight reluctantly" But that he would "fight all out," when he did fight.

He never made clear what the conditions were for a fight, nor who he thought it might be necessary to fight.

He  was also asked what woman he would like to see on the $10 bill. I have already discussed his horrific choice here.

Bottom line: There was not one area where Rand objected to a government role. He simply assumed a role for government and stated the way mechanic Rand would act in the government enforcement role.

In other words, he took no libertarian positions. As for the specifics of his postions, some were absolutely terrible. His value added tax is horrific. His comments on engaging with Russia and China were so broad that it is unclear how belligerent he would get with those countries or for what possible reasons. His hinting that there is potential for war somewhere, also suggests an Empire mentality.

There is simply nothing here for  a libertarian to hang his hat on and say, "Yes, Rand is great on this issue far better than the others." Rand is worse on taxes and in no way has ruled out war in what seem to be situations that the US has no reason to be interfering in the first place.

I see absolutely no reason to support him and saw nothing in the debate that suggested it would cause curious individuals to want to learn more about libertarianism. If anything, since Rand advocated positions that violate the non-aggression principle, in issue after issue, he will likely result in muddying what libertarianism is, since he is often identified as a libertarian. I would be much more pleased if he was identified as a government mechanic.



  1. I thought he sounded more classically liberal than he has in the past. Maybe after failing to win over conservatives he's trying to appeal to his father's base.

    1. That was my view, but he was still way too subtle.

  2. Excellent observations. I submit that to be a libertarian, you must have a libertarian mindset. That involves believing that most people know how to live their own lives without your constant interference and “helping hand” (especially when the NAP applies as broadly as possible). When people are safe in their bodies and property, have sound money and institutions to resolve disputes, you naturally trust that they can manage their own affairs.

    I think the opposite view permeates the souls of all “progressives”, both those of the left and those of the Neocon variety. The Neocons really seem to believe that the massive out-of-control Clintonista US government needs to have its fingers in everybody’s business, as with foreign people, drugs and private sexual matters. The only dispute between the “progressive” Neocons and the “leftists” concerns who it is that needs to be the next victim of the “helping hand”. I think that this attitude reflects an authentic form of “racism” among the proponents because they appear to believe that the objects of their “helping hand” are incompetent boobs unable to manage life on their own.

    Rand Paul seems congenitally unable to cut the cord to the “helping hand” and seems intent upon only rolling back the power of the “helping hand” by perhaps 42.35%. But the hooks remain in the victims.

  3. Bob,

    Your critique of Rand seems right on target. However you did not respond to the issue I raised: how did Rand do compared to the other Republicans in the debate, (not compared to libertarian principles)?

    Here’s my evaluation: he did noticeable better than all the others on drug policy, foreign policy, and explaining the intent of the Bill of Rights, although against a libertarian standard he failed.

    Warm regards, Michael

  4. I was very disappointed that when the question of vaccines was posed, both he and Dr. Carson folded. Not only did they not tell the real story about vaccines, but they both looked down at their shoes instead of acting more confrontational about how FDA and Big Pharma interests are making money and not doing their due diligence in proper scientific studies. I had to give credit to Mr. Trump for at least being up-front with the public about the side-effects of vaccines.