Rand Paul has gotten libertarianism wrong again. Despite the fact that he has attempted at times to throw off the libertarian label as too limiting and ultimately inaccurate in describing the whole of his political philosophy, Paul has also clearly embraced the label many times. More importantly for our discussion, many movement libertarians have embraced Paul as a movement leader, giving the initial fundraising momentum necessary to Paul’s political success. So why is Paul seemingly so intent on violating whatever limited principles libertarianism might hold?
It’s no surprise that most libertarians are doing libertarianism wrong of course: most of us don’t think through most of our positions, even many times on important issues. There simply are too many important issues for us to be educated or even thoughtful about every single one. I’m sure I do progressive queer feminism wrong many times as well. In fact, that’s part of the reason why I’ve chosen the life path that I have, with its focus on study that permits more time to examine those positions, more exposure to knowledgable, thoughtful takes on important issues I haven’t yet considered, and more support for rethinking issues that one had previously thought settled.
Nonetheless, you don’t exactly expect movement leaders to do that movement wrong. If a person wasn’t competent on issues important to a movement why would that person have been accepted as a leader?