Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) had to know his endorsement of former MA Governor and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney for president would upset many supporters of the Senator's father, TX Congressman and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul. And sure enough, it has upset a lot of the Ron Paul supporters. But does the endorsement reveal a change of philosophy or of positions on the issues? Senator Paul says it does not.
“My participating and saying that I will support the nominee doesn't change me at all or any of the issues that I’m fighting for, but it does change the ability of us, or the liberty movement, to have a voice in what becomes here. We have the ability to have more say and more influence by saying that we will ultimately support the nominee.”
If Ron Paul is unhappy or in any way disappointed with his son's endorsement of Romney, he is not admitting it. In fact, the Texas Congressman penned an open letter recently to his supporters and had a message for supporters who will be at the Republican convention in Tampa Bay, Florida from 8/27-8/30: be respectful. “Our delegates’ presence must be felt both in Tampa and in years to come,” Paul wrote. “Stand up for what we believe in. Be respectful. And let the establishment know that we are the future of the Party and of the country.”
I wrote about former Congressman and Obama supporter Artur Davis (D-AL) and his departure from the Democrats a couple weeks ago. The Davis announcement that his next run would be as a Republican was an embarrassment to President Obama. But the Democrats aren't the only ones dealing with loss of support or a split. There may not be any Republicans in Congress prepared to leave the GOP or run next time as a Democrat, but there is a split in the GOP. And while Senator Rand Paul's endorsement is definitely welcomed by the Romney campaign, it does not heal the split. What split? A split between Republicans who favor current foreign policy and security measures (i.e. War on Terror, Patriot Act, NDAA) and big government and those who oppose it; Ron Paul and his son are a part of the latter, smaller group of Republicans.
The problem for those of us who believe in limited government as the key to liberty, reduced debt, and economic prosperity is a simple one: many are outside of the GOP and reside in 3rd parties, primarily the Libertarian Party. For instance current Libertarian candidate for president, Gary Johnson said last year “I’m a Libertarian in belief. I successfully governed as a Libertarian in everything but the name, and I am running for president as a Libertarian.” But Johnson used to be a Republican when he was Governor of New Mexico. And therein lies the problem.
The question is will those of us who believe in liberty have more influence inside or outside the 2 major parties? I for one think we will have more influence within the 2 major parties. Ron Paul tried running as a Libertarian and got very little support; I suspect Johnson will suffer the same fate in 2012. Leaving the GOP does not advance liberty; indeed I think the best chance for liberty to advance is for more Libertarian leaning people like Johnson to return to the GOP. That's what Ron Paul did.
To those who say Rand Paul sold out by endorsing Romney, has the senator changed his views on issues since he made the endorsement? If Sen. Paul refused to endorse Romney, what chance would he have to get support for a future Rand Paul for president run or a return to the Senate? Of course, many Republicans would likely never support Senator Paul if he ran for president. But it would be much tougher for those who disagree with him on the issues to go after Senator Paul too viciously, considering his endorsement of Romney. The GOP is hypocritical on matters of liberty; you cannot support laws which erode liberty like the Patriot Act and NDAA, and you cannot support giving unlimited power to government to tax and spend and call yourself a pro-liberty party.