Rand Paul, son of Ron, scourge of government overreach and champion of that species of liberty which flows naturally from being somebody’s kid, has announced his candidacy for president. He joins Ted Cruz in challenging that guy who is the son of one president and the brother of another for the nomination to run against the wife of yet another former president. The tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with blood of the same type as whoever watered it before. But although his father has drawn a paycheck as a US Representative since he was 14, “Rand Paul has been fighting big government his entire adult life.” So says his announcement page, which mentions his father exactly once. He’s his own man. All his father gave him was a ready-made constituency, a bunch of contacts in Washington—which he despises as his sworn enemy, of course—and a famous name.
Oh yeah—Ron also gave Rand a totalizing ideology that many people regard as crazy. Rand Paul is surely the most libertarian candidate in the Republican field, which in 2015 is really saying something. He’s so libertarian that he doesn’t think we should start another land war in Asia—one of the few issues on which he and this blog agree. He’s so libertarian that he wants to wind down the war on drugs, a policy that occasioned this beautifully problematic sentence in the New York Times:
Some voters he hopes to win over are not even Republicans, like college students who could be drawn to his views on reining in domestic surveillance, and blacks who he hopes will welcome his position on easing drug-sentencing laws.
I want to believe that Paul told the Times he hopes blacks will be into his plan to reduce drug sentences. Probably it’s just analysis, considering that one in four African-American men is in some stage of the criminal justice system, but I want to watch Paul enthusiastically present this plan as his way of reaching out to black people. He did lay out a principled but not racist opposition to the Civil Rights Act, at least insofar as it was applied to private businesses.
That’s what I love about Rand Paul: his deep commitment to theoretical libertarianism, even when it runs afoul of common sense and/or some of the most significant legislative achievements of the 20th century. The man is a true believer in the supremacy of how things should be over how they are. It is therefore immensely satisfying that he is the doctor son of a doctor, the Senator son of a US Representative, the Republican candidate who is the son of a perennial Republican candidate, running on a true and good theory of government that just happens to be the same as his dad’s.
That’s just how a self-made man makes his way in a meritocratic system of liberty. Perhaps Rand Paul will mount the national stage to say that his own story is proof that the United States has drifted from a system of individual egalitarianism. I suspect, though, he will preach the virtues of self-reliance without a speck of irony. I can’t wait to watch this man argue with Jeb Bush about how life works.