On Monday, AVNews ran a report from BusinessInsider.com on Rand’s endorsement of Romney, for which your editor gave the headline “Will Paul supporters abandon Rand after Mitt sell-out?” It was suggested by some that “sell-out” was too strong of a word because Rand had never actually promised beforehand not to endorse Romney or any other Republican nominee.
Rather than write my own direct response, I have gathered different viewpoints from others for the reader thoughtfully to digest:
Jack Hunter apparently thought the liberty movement should not shuck Rand since, after all, Murray Rothbard once endorsed Bush Sr. While not mentioning Rand or Romney, the timing of Hunter’s post made it a clear response to the Liberty movement’s outrage over Rand’s position.
Walter Block—an anarcho-capitalist libertarian—found Hunter’s post helpful, and, still apparently star-struck, even at his age, by everything Rothbard, gushed, “That strongly indicates to me that there is nothing anti libertarian, per se, about such an endorsement, whether of Bush by Rothbard, or of Mitt, by Rand.”
That statement is probably true if Libertarianism is completely bereft of moral fiber.
Chuck Baldwin, on the other hand, does not buy into the game of parsing between apparent benefits and real consequent evils, and of pretending only to be endorsing the good while ignoring and distancing oneself from the clear evils attending to the same endorsee. The lesser of two evils is still, after all, an evil. And in this case, there’s a whole lot of evil, as prisonplanet.com summarizes:
Ron Paul consistently opposed this [Orwellian high-tech surveillance state] foreign policy agenda on constitutional grounds. Rand Paul’s endorsement of a man who would continue and expand this agenda – as Obama continued and expanded directives handed down to Bush – represents a serious and possibly fatal blow to Ron Paul’s long and unwavering attempt to rekindle the republic and its core principles enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Baldwin underscores a prescient fact: Rand Paul’s endorsement of Romney translates into direct support for the neocon foreign policy agenda of war waged against Syria and Iran. It signals that the younger Paul will support a destructive and limitless war waged against manufactured enemies. Rand Paul will also accept and work to implement the police state at home that is a closely related and necessary corollary of the war on terror. His endorsement is at its very core a betrayal of Ron Paul’s legacy and his attempt to restore the republic. It downgrades if not wrecks the Paul name as a standard bearer for liberty.
Lew Rockwell had as much disdain for Rand’s endorsement in an interview with RT.com, but did not see it as a surprise (and thus not a sell-out at this point). Rockwell says Rand has always been different from his father, and thus he was not surprised: “I think it was always very much in the cards that he would endorse the nominee.”
But Lew thinks the endorsement and the election are “a sideshow” because we cannot change the regime from the inside anyway. Principles and education are therefore much more important than elections and votes. This is, perhaps, closer to Rothbard’s position than what Hunter desired to present and what Block liked.
As for Rothbard’s endorsement of Bush Sr., that was highly misconstrued to begin with, according to EconomicPolicyJournal.com:
Puhleez. There is a big difference between Rothbard’s endorsement and Rand’s.
This is how Rothbard started his endorsemnet:
Yes, gulp, I’m down to the grim, realistic choice: Which of two sets of bozos is going to rule us in 1993-1997?
This is how Rothbard ended his endorsement:
A victory for Bush will–at least partly–hold back the hordes for another four years. Of course, that is not exactly soul-satisfying. What would be soul-satisfying would be taking the offensive at long last, launching a counter-revolution in government, in the economy, in the culture, everywhere against malignant left-liberalism.
[. . .] Ron Paul once told me that he did not think Rothbard voted. If this is correct, then I am all for following Rothbard’s endorsement and actions. Let’s declare that Romney is the least of the two bozos, but let’s not vote for either. Jack, Rand, are you guys on board?
So, it’s ok to acknowledge that one candidate may be slightly less evil than the other, and to say so publicly; but formally to endorse either is another step altogether. To do so may not be a sell-out in itself, but it would certainly be a compromise for anyone who at any time formerly embraced the principles of the liberty movement.
In fact, Hunter himself think compromise characterizes most political endorsements:
In fact, I would argue that the majority of endorsements for any political office and in any party are almost always about political strategy more than anything else.
This is, of course, a key suspicion many liberty movement folk have harbored in regard to Rand’s endorsement: it was for his own “political strategy more than anything else.”
But does all of this make Rand’s choice a “sell-out”? That will depend on whether you think Rand originally entered this game largely as his father’s legacy or as something much closer to a traditional establishment Republican. Baldwin thinks the former, Rockwell the latter.
I am somewhere in between. I could possibly take back the phrase “sell-out,” but could not join Rand either way.