Why you should care
Because a smaller government requires bigger leaders.
Remember how The Hunger Games would honor its fallen tributes? In this occasional series, OZY predicts which presidential candidates will be the next to fall — whether they know it or not.
It really comes down to being left the hell alone, doesn’t it, Sen. Paul? That’s what you, a born and bred libertarian, are all about. That’s what keeps the fire burning and the campaign bus rolling. And when it comes to the mission of getting the government out of the lives of everyday Americans, no agent of that government plants himself in the paths of more everyday Americans than you do — even if you have refused to participate in tonight’s GOP undercard debate.
“I don’t want to live in a nanny state where people are telling me where I can go and what I can do,” you once told The New York Times. Fair enough, and as you’ve demonstrated repeatedly in this election, from taking a chain saw to the tax code to championing a pragmatic approach to ISIS, you are a candidate who marches to his own political drum (and who did not respond to our requests for comment). Unfortunately, though, you have to march to the same polls as everyone else — and when it comes to being president, those polls, which find you flatlining around 2 to 3 percent, are telling you exactly where you can go (hint: It’s not the White House).
Your fall, Dr. Paul, has come almost as quickly as your remarkable rise. Not too long ago you were a Texas-raised Kentucky ophthalmologist with a funny name — short for Randal (and not, as is commonly believed, in honor of the philosopher Ayn Rand, a favorite among libertarians like you and your father, longtime congressman Ron Paul, another presidential also-ran). You inherited your father’s ideals, his vast network, but not — so it seemed — his perch in the political wilderness. When the Tea Party swept into office in 2010, you were the first-term senator with curly hair and sunglasses who caught the crest of that libertarian wave, a poster child for “Freedom From ….”
The right to be left alone … is not the same thing as being able to do and say whatever you want.
You rode that rough surf well. In 2014, a Time magazine cover called you “The Most Interesting Man in Politics.” And you were: a principled small-government aficionado willing to buck his own party establishment on issues like domestic surveillance, drug criminalization, same-sex marriage and military intervention overseas. More recently, you drew double-digits in early 2016 polls, even sitting atop the pack in New Hampshire.
But in retrospect, America’s “libertarian moment” really lasted only about as long as one of your half-day Senate filibusters, and grew equally as stale. And after just a few years in Washington, our crusading eye doctor saw his own political vision clouded by allegations of plagiarism, corruption charges against campaign aides as well as what The Atlantic called an “affinity for misinformation” when it comes to everything from the Affordable Care Act to the national debt. The right to be left alone, as you’ve learned, is not the same thing as being able to do and say whatever you want.
And this time around the presidential racetrack, Republican voters are clearly more intrigued by a candidate who is a true outsider — not just an ornery loner on the Senate floor — even if it means a Big Brother who will build walls, censor the Internet and carpet bomb other nations. Such an ambitious government project couldn’t be drowned in an Olympic-size pool, let alone a bathtub.
For the moment, the libertarians have lost. If freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose, then few candidates enjoy more freedom in the 2016 race than you do, Senator. But you can still do your own small part to get the government out of our lives — by pulling the plug on your campaign.
Please stand aside and make way for the fallen, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.