Sunday, June 10, 2012

Two Takes on Rand Paul's Compromise

Jack Hunter gives a perceptive political analysis of Rand Paul's endorsement of Mitt Romney (h/t Mike Marnell and The Daily Paul).  His analysis is based on realpolitik.  It is a question whether realpolitik will work because the people with whom Paul is compromising are as likely to change him as vice versa.   Paul is compromising with entrenched GOP financial interests.    

Hunter's argument is coherent, but is it realistic to think that the bulk of Republicans will ever side with an opponent of the Fed and Wall Street? In other words, the majority of GOP voters parrot network television; network television will never oppose Wall Street or GOP corruption because it is enmeshed in both. Paul's strategy may be futile.  The claim that Paul will be a winnable presidential candidate in 2016 is far fetched.

Libertarian strategy should be oriented toward the endgame:  As the nation's economy collapses because of Democratic and GOP policies,  libertarians need to be an independent force.

Lew Rockwell of the Ludwig von Mises Institute says that Rand Paul is not a libertarian; rather, he is a neoconservative.  Rockwell says that you can't change the current regime from the inside any more than you can change the Mafia from the inside. The Republican Party is run by an oligarchy.  Rockwell says that the primary is over, and Ron Paul lost, so it's not surprising that Rand Paul is supporting Romney.  He aims to be a career politician, and he does not necessarily aim to be a libertarian.

Rockwell is right that Ron Paul represents liberty, not a cult of personality.  The announcer asks: "Why cater to an establishment that has shut out Ron Paul?" Rockwell calls the Establishment, the Fox network and the GOP, disgusting.  He also points out that Rand Paul cannot be seen as the same as Ron Paul.  Partisan politics is corrupt, and Rand Paul participates in it.

Rockwell's analysis is right.  Rand Paul must prove himself to be a supporter of liberty; we cannot assume that he is so.  If his support for Mitt Romney excludes libertarians from supporting him in the future, it may just mean that we should not. Better candidates may well appear.  So far, the jury is out on Rand Paul.

Is Rand Paul a Bismarck, a Quisling, or a Chamberlain?

Rand Paul's endorsement of Romney may be realpolitik, or it may be an appeasement policy.  Barry Lyndon of Policymic argues that it was a political masterstroke. Nevertheless, realpolitik is difficult to execute; it frequently fails.  In choosing to play ball with the GOP, Rand entangles himself in the GOP's all-encompassing nexus of corrupt special interests.  Few politicians have so entangled themselves and survived without fundamental compromise.  Did it make sense for Neville Chamberlain to appease Hitler?  My point is not that Romney is Hitler; rather, Romney is a more powerful competitor who has little to lose from deceiving the Pauls.

The best example of realpolitik is its inventor, Otto von Bismarck, the German minister president who fashioned the German Empire, created the modern welfare state, and developed a complex set of alliances.  Yet Bismarck's system led, in a little more than two decades, to World War I, and I would argue his welfare state contributed to the rise of totalitarianism.  It is just as likely that Rand Paul's realpolitik will turn out to reflect that of  Vidkun Quisling.   Quisling was a Norwegian prime minister who assisted Germany as it invaded Norway; his aim was to lead a puppet government. 

Realpolitik is sometimes necessary, and Barry Lyndon may be right that Rand Paul's strategy will turn out to be effective.  At the same time, even Bismarck's realpolitik led to Germany's humiliation.  It is understandable that the Pauls' supporters are concerned.  Might Rand inadvertently be exploding the movement that his father has assiduously developed?  Even if his tactic works in the short run, might he be diverting and confusing the nascent millennial libertarian movement, causing its ultimate abortion?

New Gary Johnson Commercial

The other day, I was speaking to a waitress who supports Obama. She said that she dislikes the Republicans because they pander to special interests.  I suggested that Obama has overseen $29 trillion in swaps and other subsidies to global banks.  He has overseen bigger subsidies to Wall Street and banking than all of the preceding presidents in history combined contributed to all other special interests combined.  The waitress did not reply.  Mike Marnell, with whom I was having lunch, suggested that she would not change her vote. The American voter is a mindless drone. Voting for continuing the current system is a matter of habit. It is not going well; Americans are not doing well; the real hourly wage has not increased in four decades.  The conservative (in the European sense) philosopher Joseph de Mistre said: "Oute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle mérite," that is, "Every nation gets the government it deserves."  Perhaps America deserves Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. I hope that Gary Johnson proves that possibility wrong.