On “Propagandizing” for Ron and Rand Paul
From about 2007 to 2012, I was constantly accused of being a propagandist for Ron Paul. It was true. I believed in Dr. Paul 100%. I had been waiting for a political figure of his type to emerge my entire life. For the 2012 campaign, he even hired me to be his official campaign blogger. It was an honor.
Those who made such accusations were typically other Republicans who were fans of—depending on the day, time, election and direction of the wind—Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. The supporters of each of these candidates have now moved on. I have not.
I remain as committed to Ron Paul as I was from day one. I have worked for him in the past and will continue to be at his service any time he asks.
From 2010 until today, I have constantly been accused of being a propagandist for Rand Paul. It is true. I believe in Sen. Paul 100%. I have been waiting for a political figure of his type to emerge my entire life. In 2010, he even hired me to co-author a book with him. It was an honor. I have worked for him in the past and will continue to be at his service.
Those who make the “propagandist” accusation are sometimes Republicans, particularly those antagonistic toward all-things-Paul. But others who make this accusation are Ron Paul supporters: “Stop sticking up for Rand!” “Stop defending everything Rand does!” “Jack Hunter is a propagandist.”
I had never heard any of these accusations when I did the same “propagandizing” for Rand’s father. Had they not realized I was a “propagandist” then, as so many other mainstream Republicans had accused me of being? Or did we simply now have a disagreement on who we should support, and employing the same tactics I always had now annoyed them because I supported Rand as much as Ron?
And there lies the real change. I haven’t changed what I do, my views, or my tactics. Not one iota. What has changed, for some, is the dynamic of the liberty movement. I think this segment of the liberty movement is a minority, but it is also a large minority. My purpose here is to address or contextualize this change in dynamic.
From the very first day I recognized Ron Paul was gaining popularity, I knew that this thing we were all creating, this “liberty movement,” as it came to be known, would come in separate parts. That logically, there would be a beginning, middle, and hopefully, some victorious “end” or ends (there’s never any true “end” because to protect liberty we must always remain vigilant). Even so, I thought there necessarily must be Parts 1, and 2, and hopefully, if we’re lucky, Parts 10, 20 and 50.
Part 1 is Ron Paul. Dr. Paul’s pure, unadulterated liberty approach got millions of Americans to think about domestic, foreign and monetary policy in ways they never had before. Ron Paul revolutionized a generation and the American political landscape. The libertarian conservatism of smaller government, more freedom and less war now had a chance to thrive, now that so many were educated and both major parties were shown they no longer had a monopoly on permissible opinion.
Without Part 1 there could be no other parts. Period. But Part 1 also had a political ceiling. There could have been no liberty movement without Dr. Paul’s style and methods. But for that movement to do more, there would have to be different styles and methods.
Part 2 is Rand Paul. He is not the only liberty figure who represents Part 2 (Reps. Justin Amash and Thomas Massie, for example), but he is, as of now, the primary figure.
In the two years since the younger Dr. Paul has been in the Senate, column after column, article after article, has been written about how the son of Ron Paul now represents the “libertarian,” “non-interventionist,” or even, disparagingly, “isolationist” wing of the Republican Party. Most of those columns and articles also mention how much of an impact Sen. Paul has had, energizing the grassroots Right and worrying other factions, like the neoconservatives.
All of this is true. That’s the entire point of Part 2.
Ask the average grassroots conservative what they think of Ron Paul and you typically get a mixed reaction. Ask them what they think of Rand Paul and you find much more enthusiasm. The philosophy hasn’t substantively changed. The methods and style most certainly have.
For every questionable action—support for Mitt Romney, comments about the US’s relationship with Israel, (was trying to think of more here for good measure, but these seem to be the primary two)—these things do not diminish the overall record of the most libertarian Senator since the Founding era. Not making these certain diplomatic statements or gestures on occasion, also makes taking these ideas into the mainstream much, much harder. A little rhetorical concession goes a long way, something my political friends always get instinctively but is harder for those who purposefully eschew politics to understand.
While Ron Paul attracted millions because he was unwilling to mince words, Rand Paul has been willing to mince words, pull punches and pick his battles. In the process, Sen. Paul has achieved the ability to attract even millions more to the liberty message by employing a level of diplomacy and outreach to the conservative movement that had not formerly been associated with the name Paul. Neither is right or wrong. Just different. All of it productive.
And I am 100% on board with all of it. I was ready for all of this since the moment Rudy Giuliani was berating Ron Paul on that debate stage in 2007—precisely because I knew that if I wanted to put the Giulianis of the world in their place and to see my political philosophy thrive, we had to take this movement all the way.
Before Ron Paul, the ability to do this was completely hopeless. Now it is not.
I have not always agreed with Ron and Rand Paul. When I didn’t, I’ve said nothing. Silence. When others attacked Ron or Rand Paul, even on the rare issues I disagreed with them, I defended the integrity of these men. Not because they’re perfect or always right, but because what they stand for is about as close to perfect, politically, as I can ever expect to see.
I will continue to defend Ron and Rand Paul against mainstream Republicans. I expect these attacks to get worse in correlation with our success. I will continue to defend them against some libertarians and others who expect nothing less than perfection. But even in these cases, I absolutely hate fighting with libertarians. My war is with our enemies within the larger mainstream of American political life, not my own.
This is not to say I expected some of my libertarian friends to have the same approach to Rand as they do Ron. Unfortunately, rigid absolutism, an impossible standard for anyone to live up to, including Ron, is often characteristic of the philosophy. If the conservative movement is guilty of promoting big government types like Rick Santorum, despite his countless statist offenses, the liberty movement does the exact opposite—if Rand Paul does twenty great things, libertarians will focus on the one thing they don’t like, ignoring the rest. Santorum does not deserve the benefit of the doubt from conservatives because he isn’t the least bit conservative—but he still gets it. Sen. Paul most definitely deserves the benefit of the doubt from libertarians, based on his actual voting record, but from some, he will simply never get it.
This will continue to be problematic for our movement. Bad votes or comments should not go uncriticized. But how many will be intent on always making the perfect the enemy of the great (“good” doesn’t do Sen. Paul justice) will say much about our chances for enduring success.
Some say Rand is not Ron because he is “willing to play them game.” That’s exactly right. That’s the point—to play it, influence it and win it as much as you can. The neoconservatives certainly do, to their advantage. Even Ron Paul “played the game” to some extent by becoming a Congressman, running for president and being engaged in practical politics. In the end, we’re all playing a “game” of some sort, even if it means trying to prove we’re the most pure in our ethos. The question is—is the endgame simply to satisfy our own egos? Or to achieve loftier, principled and tangible political ends?
As I said before, I had waited my entire life for political figures to emerge who were willing to do all of these things, at the various, necessary levels. And now they are.
Ron Paul started this. Rand Paul is attempting to take what his father started to an even higher and more politically influential level. Some within the movement were never going to be comfortable with anything beyond Part 1. This is fine. People have different temperaments and interests. I don’t expect the uninterested to come on board for Parts 2-50. I only ask that they don’t make a hobby of trying to hurt those who are on board. It might make them feel good but it helps absolutely no one—except our enemies.
As for me, I will remain a “propagandist” for Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, Kerry Bentivolio, Campaign for Liberty, Young Americans for Liberty, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Mike Church, Julie Borowski, and any other figure, group, blog or vehicle, now or in the future, that I believe advances our ideas in a way that we eventually become the new mainstream.
I have the liberty movement’s back. This is my entire life. If that is propaganda, so be it.