In this context, “libertarianism” is a marketing device, a way to keep young bond traders comfortable within a party whose base is still snake-handlers and still stock-piling arms against the inevitable Kenyan Muslim gun-grab…They’re basically Tea Party types who’d (pragmatically) still allow the government to bust you for selling an ounce of weed but not for selling millions of dollars in trash derivatives.
One of the stranger parts of the 2012 GOP primary—a strange time all around, if you recall—was that Paul père‘s campaign was figured as an ideological resurgence despite performing abysmally. Paul was the second highest funded candidate of the race, vastly outspending anybody below him, yet never came close to winning a primary, and finished in most states in a distant fourth. Paul actually became less visible as the campaign wore on—his sole viral moment came when he suggested letting an uninsured man die on the curb of a hospital rather than spend public funds to save him, a moment notable solely for its sociopathy—and the only reason he was there at all in the end was thanks to the inmates who had taken over his asylum and were trying to rig the rules of the nomination process.
In short, Paul spent tens of millions of dollars more than anybody save Romney, and still had to cheat, and still didn’t even clear the threshold for the nomination process. All the Ron Paul Revolution stickers can’t put the surge in that resurgence.
Paul fils is a more limber salesman, and he seems far more willing than his intractable father to bend his position to suit the political moment. But reading a cause’s rise in his skill at realpoliticking is to see something that isn’t there. Twelve months ago, Ron Paul’s mix of Austrian economics and lawless social policy was losing elections—badly—to Rick Santorum, who just this morning voiced his determination to take the GOP to its grave before supporting gay marriage. When you can beat that guy, we’ll talk mainstream libertarianism.