Even Radio NZ is now starting to discuss the victory of Tea Party candidate Randal Paul in the Kentucky Republican primary (perhaps the first time a winning candidate in a minor Republican primary has been mentioned on Radio NZ at all). Clearly, there’s more than just the Tea Party connection that got Radio NZ interested enough to comment.
Just for the record, despite the popular contraction of his first name to “Rand,” Randal wasn’t named after novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand, but he does enjoy her novels. It just Ayn’t true.
But what of his politics? Is a man surfing the Tea Party wave like Paul good simply because he’s successfully surfed that wave? Well, maybe not. The intellectual banner of the Tea Party itself is mixed, and so too it is Paul the Younger. “Rand Paul, like his libertarian father Ron Paul, is a Christian-influenced ‘isolationist,’” argues Objectivist Scott Holleran, which is troubling news.
It’s often said that, speaking in traditional pol-sci terms, libertarians are “fiscal conservative and social liberals”; in those terms, Randal’s father Ron is both a fiscal conservative and a social conservative—meaning he hardly deserves the freedom-loving applause he gets. So if Paul the Younger is cut from similar cloth then, Houston, we do have a problem.
We have a problem because both Paul Senior and Paul the Younger are not just another pair of faceless politicians. Despite policies which frankly contradict the claims, Paul Senior achieved “growing public prominence as a self-proclaimed spokesman for the ideas of liberty,” and Paul the Younger has certainly capitalised on that widespread national prominence, even as he’s chanted the anti-concept of so-called state’s rights (an invitation, as Rand the Original once pointed out, simply to replace federal tyranny with local tyranny), and sought the backing of social conservatives like the far-Right theocratic group Concerned Women for America (allowing Paul the Younger to boast on his website that his "socially conservative views have earned the respect and trust of church leaders across Kentucky."
Not exactly exciting news for freedom-lovers, is it—nor for those eager to make the connection with Rand the Original, who would have been appalled.
‘The appalling disgrace of his administration [said Rand the Original] is his
connection with the so-called ‘Moral Majority’ and sundry other TV religionists,
who are struggling—apparently with his approval—to take us back to the Middle Ages,
via the unconstitutional union of religion and politics.’
“Rand said Reagan was trying to ‘arouse the country by some sort of inspirational appeal. He is right in thinking that the country needs an inspirational element. But he will not find it in the God-Family-Tradition swamp.’ So while Randal Paul was sucking up to the social conservative religionists, Ayn Rand had called their ideology a ‘swamp’ and wanted nothing to do with them.”
Vodka Pundit Steve Green’s expressed early concern about Paul Senior, about “the impact that his representations of those ideas are having [and will have] on a national audience.” Given Paul the Younger’s name and his Tea Party associations, those concerns are even more relevant about Paul the Younger since his own performance has the potential to damage the former and derail the second.
It’s nothing personal. The concern is about the fate of those ideas, and not for Paul’s fate as a candidate for higher office—particularly since his choice to exploit the “Rand” name makes his mis-identification with Rand’s ideas so much the easier for the ill-informed.
The first week after Randal’s victory already offers further cause for concern. It was a week mired for him in the hash he made of an ill-advised appearance on Rachel Maddow’s TV show, a week in which he went first one way on civil rights and property rights, and then another, until at the end of it no-one could be quite sure what his position was on race, on civil rights, on the rights of employers and property-owners—and even on Rachel Maddow. (Although his own confusion doesn’t justify the abject confusion of some commentators on almost everything).
So in summary, until I see something both more principled and more substantial from Ron Paul’s son, I can only wish to see in reality the sentiment once expressed in the title of the Shayne Carter & Peter Jefferies song: “Rand(olph)’s Going Home.”