Thursday, June 14, 2012

Endorsing Evil Is Politics as Usual

Last Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky endorsed Mitt Romney for president of the United States and followed up a day later by saying he would be “honored” to be Romney’s choice for vice president. Paul pledged his support after having a discussion with Romney in which the latter outlined some of his positions that were of particular concern. According to Paul, Romney supported “reforming the Federal Reserve, limiting regulations, and opposing the Stop Online Privacy Act,” adding that “there is a lot of kinship between us on those issues.”

Regarding Mitt’s foreign policy views, Rand Paul told Sean Hannity that “[we] had a very good and I think honest discussion about a lot of these things; and I came away from it feeling he would be a very responsible commander in chief, I don’t think he’ll be reckless, I don’t think he’ll be rash, and I think that he realizes and believes as I do that war is a last resort and something we don’t rush willy-nilly into, and I came away feeling that he’ll have [a] mature attitude and beliefs toward foreign policy.”

Basically, Rand Paul came away with nothing in exchange for providing Mitt Romney with some modicum of acceptability and respectability vis-à-vis the millions of Paulistas and tea partyers who support him and his father. Mitt does not want to audit the Fed but would indeed limit government regulation as it relates to himself and his predatory capitalist friends. He might or might not oppose SOPA, but freedom of the Internet is not a core issue for him and might, in fact, be something he opposes for copyright protection, i.e., corporate money, reasons. And Rand is dead wrong about Mitt the commander in chief. It is generally accepted that Mitt’s foreign policy will be a repeat of George W. Bush’s, except maybe even worse. In exchange for a pocketful of mumbles for Rand, Mitt Romney has successfully marginalized Ron Paul supporters, who are now under orders not to try to disrupt the Republican Convention in Tampa in August.

It is already being argued that Rand Paul’s bowing to the Republican establishment by endorsing Romney should have been anticipated and is essentially a political calculation: if one wishes to reform the beast, it is only possible to do so by remaining inside and apparently loyal. No Republican luminary will now be able to claim that Paul is anything but a true blue (or red) supporter of the party. The example of Pat Buchanan is cited to demonstrate that leaving the party means abandoning the debate to others who couldn’t care less about the principles at stake.

But I don’t see it that way. Rand Paul will be mistrusted by the Republican oligarchs whether or not he endorses Romney. More important, as we are really talking about Ron Paul and his legacy, the issue is not how well one plays the political game. Ron Paul was as close to an honest politician as is possible to find on Capitol Hill. He was guided by principle and never wavered, which is precisely why he created a high level of rock star–style enthusiasm among his supporters. He called for radical changes in how we do business as a nation and demanded a return to both constitutionalism and rule of law as well as a restoration of national integrity. Rand instead is trimming his message, or even ignoring what he claims to believe in, because he and his advisers have made a political calculation regarding what has to be done to remain viable. These overpaid advisers, who are drifting over from his father’s poorly run campaign, apparently think far too much about political strategies and think far too little about what is wrong with this country.