My first choice had always been my father. I campaigned for him when I was 11-years-old. He’s still my first pick, but now that the nominating process is over, tonight I’m happy to announce that I’m going to be supporting Gov. Mitt Romney.
In the few days since Rand Paul made this statement, I have tried to find the right picture to convey my thoughts and reaction to it. I say picture and not words; perhaps my reasons for doing so will become evident.
Rand Paul had a choice. His father laid out one path – maintain integrity, keep focused on personal liberty and the Constitution. This path kept him on the fringes for decades, but in this time – with the convergence of the economic calamity he has said would come and the internet that gave a platform to the message – he has been heard loud and clear. It is his consistency and message – even when nobody was listening – that has generated such a vocal and dedicated following. And a growing following. The numbers are not a majority, but a majority isn’t necessary. No politician can claim such a track record and such a following. Rand was ripe for carrying this torch.
The alternative path available to Rand Paul is the one he seems to have taken. It is the political path, the party path. The path seemingly better for his career if he wants to be a somewhat influential senator and eventually a candidate for President.
Rand took the path of short term gain at the cost of long term impact and influence. To paraphrase Gary North’s words, Rand chose job over calling – calling being the single most important thing one can do, and do it better than anyone else. This was Ron Paul’s path, the one of long term influence and long term change. It is not the path to achieve political power today. It is the path of education, developing an understanding of liberty and personal freedom, non-intervention, and honest money. It is the path of building a following behind these ideas. It is not the path of the politically acceptable, but the possible.
Those who looked to his father and in turn became the most dedicated movement in politics were ready to embrace Rand Paul as Rand seemed the natural candidate to be the focal point of the movement for liberty and peace. A true “calling.” But to be this focal point – to maintain the integrity required to keep the dedicated following – required walking the road his father had developed.
Ron Paul never said he would support a candidate that he did not believe was fully supportive of certain principles. Ron Paul was willing to be booed on the stage for his ideas about terrorism and blowback. Certainly these positions cost Ron Paul within the Republican Party, but this is not where the fight is. The fight is for the battle of ideas, for education. Here Ron Paul was winning, and here is where the battle will eventually be won. These positions did not cost Ron Paul in the battle of ideas. It only added to his credibility – this credibility being one of the key reasons his supporters were so dedicated.
It seems Rand looks to be accepted by the establishment, instead of looking to influence the course of the country for the next several generations. Changing the dialogue for the benefit of future generations was the door opened to him by his father, and Rand chose door number two instead.
Several pictures come to mind. I guess pictures resonate with me in regards to this story, because the subject hits an emotional nerve just as much as an intellectual one.
First, I look at this from the point of view of the father. I have no idea what Ron Paul thinks or feels about this event. If he has spoken publicly about it, I haven’t seen or heard it yet. However, what I envision is a father who knows the path, knows the cost to stay on that path, and knows the long-term value to the cause of freedom if the path is maintained. With this knowledge must come a sadness when a son chooses a different path. Not the sadness of a father whose son desires to be a grocery clerk instead of a doctor, but the sadness of a father who understands the big (multi-generational impact) picture, and the choice made by the son to turn the other way.
Distant Early Warning, Rush
The world weighs on my shoulders
But what am I to do?
You sometimes drive me crazy
But I worry about you
I know it makes no difference
To what you're going through
But I see the tip of the iceberg
And I worry about you
It is interesting that Rush uses Absalom as the character to demonstrate the father’s lament. Absalom tried to kill his father, King David, in order to take the throne. Still, when David learned of Absalom’s death, he mourned. Rand may or may not know it, but his announcement in support of Romney has done damage to the movement of freedom (it won’t kill it; this can’t be killed – just as David could not be killed by Absalom). With this announced support for Romney, Rand “died” as the person capable to continue to build on the legacy his father built. I can imagine that this is a point of mourning for Ron Paul.
The second picture I have is one from the viewpoint of Rand. Will he look back one day at this decision and say to himself it was a mistake?
Supertramp, Just Another Nervous Wreck
I threw it all away now
I could have made a fortune
I lost the craving for success
I don’t see it as a fortune in wealth, but a fortune in influence and in longevity – a fortune in legacy. It is certain Ron Paul will be remembered and have influence for generations – far more so than 99.9% of every politician that has ever held office. What are the odds that a senator who plays within the system will have such a lasting legacy for freedom? If Rand Paul changes the system by working within the system, he will be the first. If he can do this, more power to him. Otherwise, he will look back at the fortune he threw away.
The best picture I have is from Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront
You don't understand, I could have had class!
I could have been a contender.
I could have been somebody.
Instead of a bum...
...which is what I am. Let's face it.
I envision one day this will be Rand Paul’s lament. Even if Rand one day becomes president, he will not have had the influence that he could have had if he followed his father’s path. This may seem silly to some, but only if one thinks in terms of political power. Thomas Jefferson has had much more influence as a writer and political philosopher than he did as President. In fact, his presidency diminished his legacy for freedom. Ron Paul has influenced and changed the dialogue far more than any president of his generation. This is what Rand Paul has thrown away.
Change will come through education, not through politics. The politics reflect the people. The politics will be changed only when the people demand it. They will demand what they believe to be important. They will believe it to be important when they are educated. Ron Paul worked to educate on the idea of freedom and liberty.
This was Ron Paul’s strength. This was his calling. This was the foundation he established. Continue to build this movement, and the politics will take care of itself. Circumvent this movement, and it will be politics as usual – some slightly better and some slightly worse, but the path will remain the same.
In the meantime, the financial course the country is on is not sustainable. When it comes to an end (which it will), what will the people demand of their politicians? Continue to build on the foundation set by Ron Paul, and they will demand decentralization and smaller government. Go along to get along doesn’t make such change.
Rand Paul had a choice. He could build on the path his father started, and he would have been known for generations as one of the founders of the resurgence of the American ideal. Or he could choose the path of going along to get along. He chose the second.
Someone else may step up to carry this mantle. Rand Paul will be watching from the sidelines.
In the words of Marlon Brando, Rand could have been a contender, instead of a bum….
In the meantime, Rand has done a tremendous service in the cause of those who view playing politics is a hopeless cause. If his actions end up pulling the rug out from under the movement that Ron Paul germinated, it will deal a significant blow to the idea that change will come from politics, especially national politics.
Many people have worked tirelessly for Ron Paul. They have seen abuse from the Republican Party establishment as payback for their efforts. They have been ignored, marginalized, and physically abused. Now they see that the natural replacement for the focal point of their cause has turned the other way. Many will disavow national politics forever.
For this, we can thank Rand Paul. In the end, it is not a bad outcome.