It has been a fun time for proponents of independence and decentralization throughout the world. Most liberty conservatives that I’ve seen are struggling not to overdose on liberal tears in the wake of the historic Brexit vote. The great Nigel Farage, the iconoclastic Ron Paul-inspired leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), has quite the feather in his cap after being one of the primary orchestrators of this huge political blow against the European Union.
Sadly, it doesn’t seem like we have anything to be nearly as excited over in jolly old America. Liberty conservatives have had their hopes dashed, for the most part, during the 2016 Presidential race. Of course, there are a good handful of liberty-minded folks who support Trump for President, supported Cruz for President, or went a different way this year. But I think it is fair to say that the lion’s share of liberty conservatives were firmly behind Rand Paul. His underwhelming campaign was like to a punch in the gut for those of us who had put our hopes into him.
It now seems like a lifetime ago when Farage said Rand was essentially his spirit animal from across the pond. The men have gone in two very divergent directions, and the comparative levels of success that both men have achieved are no coincidence. While Farage has doubled down and taken the fight even harder to the enemy, Rand has relented and attempted to curry favor with the highly reviled political establishment. Farage brilliantly tapped into the popular passions of the public to poke liberty-hating globalist centralizers in the eye. On the other hand, Rand has thrown cold water on the liberty and tea party movements at every turn and replaced bedrock principles with cheap, canned talking points.
If Farage had cozied up to power, if he had struck an alliance with PM David Cameron as Rand did with Sen. Mitch McConnell, it would probably have helped him for the purposes of temporary political expediency. Farage could have rubbed elbows with some big shots. He would have gotten a pat on the head from his enemies. Political hacks would have applauded his willingness to ‘play the game’ but Farage would never have had the sweet victory of Brexit, which ultimately sent Cameron packing, if he took Rand’s approach to his politics. Instead, Farage wisely took the harder road and it is paying off big time.
However, Farage’s hard road has not been without its struggles. In last year’s election, UKIP did not fare as well as they had hoped. In spite of getting nearly four million votes, they did not gain a single member of parliament. Farage could have sulked, capitulated, and played ball with the political establishment in lieu of this disheartening vote. I am sure he was advised to do so by many weak-willed Londoners sympathetic to the political status quo. However, Farage did not succumb to the pressure. He rallied the troops, pushed for the Brexit vote, and got a massive victory that could very well make UKIP into a dominant force for many years to come.
To be fair, Farage has made his fair share of political calculations as well. He refuses to go after national health care because it would be suicide for UKIP because socialist policies are so entrenched in Britain. This tortured, inconsistent policy position has belied Farage’s pro-market, pro-capitalist rhetoric. Meanwhile, Rand has valiantly led on the issue of combating Obamacare since its inception. Rand has arguably been better than Farage on the issues of military intervention and drug policy as well. Observing his entire Senatorial career, Rand has been far from a slouch.
The difference between the men is more stylistic than anything else. As Rand went on the big stage and bent over for social justice warriors and racially-obsessed leftists at every turn, Nigel went on TV and proclaimed the evils of multiculturalism. He went directly into the liberal media’s lions den, and talked about how he was sick of diversity being shoved down the throats of Brits in the lead up to the Brexit vote. Could you imagine Rand ever saying something like that? Sadly, Rand would probably side with the media jackals who feigned massive outrage at Farage’s common sense assertions.
Perhaps Rand’s abysmal Rachel Maddow Show appearance in 2010 rattled him more than he lets on because he has spent the better part of the last six years trying to apologize for non-existent racism. Rand’s long-time surrogate Jack Hunter has even taken it to bizarre and disgusting levels, going on an infamous liberal media apology tour last year crying crocodile tears regarding racism in the South and the evils of the Confederate Flag to score political points after a tragedy. These superfluous, extraordinary displays of fealty go far beyond attempts to show empathy and kindness into full-blown subjugation. It is nothing less than waving the white flag of surrender to the political establishment. Because the powers-that-be know if you drinking their politically correct kool aid, they already have you by the short hairs.
In a move that can only be attributed to a super-human degree of arrogance and aloofness, Rand actually believed that his ticket to victory would be through playing nice with the establishment. He thought that his father’s problem was that he was an extremist and an outsider. Rand would therefore show that he can schmooze with the best of them. He would show that he could get up there and read a speech full of lies while rubbing elbows with Mitch McConnell. This would open up the doors he needed to become President, he assumed. He even became a Chamber of Commerce Republican in 2014, even while simultaneously saying that a Chamber Republican wouldn’t win the Republican nomination for Presidency in 2016. Unfortunately for Rand’s political bona fides, he was correct in his initial prediction. Rand’s behavior on the campaign trail shows that blind ambition can really cloud a man’s better judgment.
Now rather than Rand, Trump is likely to be the anti-establishment nominee on the Republican ticket. How did this happen? While Trump could easily get his clock cleaned in November due to his unpredictability and baggage, Rand could have combined the hardcore, pull-no-punches style of Trump with the substance of his father. He could have given legs to the populist fervor that became the Trump phenomenon, but pissed away his golden opportunity instead. Trump ate Rand’s lunch and disgraced him. While liberty conservatives can pout and cry about this (and some are), they should instead take a cold hard look in the mirror at how their own movement allowed the momentum to slip away. They should begin by looking at how poorly Rand Paul performed.
Farage is the best of both worlds. He has the substance of a Ron Paul with the charisma, flair and savvy of a Donald Trump. Rand could have been like this if he didn’t let the political consultant class get into his ear. He accepted pragmatism, and it may be his undoing as the leader of a revolutionary movement, which is probably a title Rand never wanted to begin with. To maximize the success of the liberty movement in America, we need to find our version of Nigel Farage. We have to find a front man who won’t budge or break under the stress. A front man who can galvanize the troops and maximize our effectiveness. It may or may not be Rand. If it isn’t, Rand needs to get out of the way and let someone else emerge as the leader. Rand had a chance, and he blew it. He either needs to go back to the drawing board for some serious soul-searching, or get off the pot and let someone with the chops take the reigns.