Today, Rand Paul made the long-anticipated announcement that he's running for President. The first-term Senator has his father to thank for even being considered a contender so early in his political career. Unfortunately—while he shares his father's last name—he has little else in common. While Rand may indeed be 'more libertarian' than his fellow candidates, his support for sanctions against Iran, military action against ISIS, the continuation of the "war on drugs," and his pandering to the religious right on the issue of marriage reveal him to be either a neocon at heart or a conniving charlatan... or perhaps both.
Ron Paul was a principled man who did not shirk from calling out the US government for its role in fomenting terrorism or from acknowledging that legalizing all drugs is the only position consistent with the principles of liberty. Sadly, Ron's son is not his father and his campaign will ultimately satisfy neither the pro-peace libertarians nor the bloodthirsty, genocidal, xenophobic chicken hawks who lust after perpetual war and conquest.
I realize that many liberty activists see the Rand Paul presidential campaign as the culmination of their hopes and dreams, but for me, he's just another neocon seeking to misappropriate the 'libertarian' label to cloak his war mongering and statism. What would it take to convince me otherwise? It's very simple, actually.
I want to hear from Rand Paul (or from any potential candidate who I could consider supporting) that the war on drugs is wrong and that the solution is to fully legalize the production, distribution, and consumption of all drugs across the board. I want to hear that Iran has just as much right to possess a nuclear weapon as does the US or Israel. I want to hear that fighting ISIS is none of our business, and I want an acknowledgment that ISIS wouldn't even exist if it weren't for the US meddling in the Middle East. I want to hear that all the US foreign military bases will be shuttered and that federal spending will be cut by double digit percentages every year until the debt is fully eradicated. I want to hear that the NSA will be abolished and that all US spying will be terminated—not just curtailed or subject to more oversight. I want to hear that the entire US military drone fleet will be grounded permanently. I want to hear that the prohibitions on freedom of travel will be lifted and that the border will go back to being an interesting landmark rather than an obstacle to human freedom.
I don't categorically refuse to vote, but I will not vote for someone who believes in increasing government coercion in any aspect or area of human existence. Even if the proposed reductions to government force are marginal, I can find something to support, but Rand Paul does not even pass this test. He wants to actively escalate government coercion, at least in some areas of foreign policy, and that is something I simply cannot abide.
Ultimately, I want what Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, Walter Block, David Friedman, and Murray Rothbard have been talking about for decades. I want human action unencumbered by the state. I want the gun to be taken out of the state's hands and given back to the people. I want freedom and liberty to reign supreme. What I most certainly don't want is for Rand Paul's brand of quasi 'libertarian' statism to become synonymous with true liberty. That would be a far greater loss for the cause of freedom than would any possible political outcome in 2016.