‘Brushfires of Liberty’: Rand Paul drops out, too

GOP chorus

A little less like a chorus line now (I don’t even RECOGNIZE the fourth guy from the right! Pataki? Is he that tall?)

First, Mike Huckabee and Martin O’Malley quit during the Iowa caucuses, so that their passing was hardly noted.

Now, Rand Paul has joined them, in true Paulista style: “Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.” (See, this is one of the things about ideologues that kind of gives me the fantods. All that talk about setting fires and extremism being no vice, etc.)

So now that they’ve joined Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb and others I’m probably forgetting, this is starting to look a presidential election rather than a revival of “A Chorus Line.”

Of course, on the GOP side, we need someone other than the undercard candidates to quit in order to help us focus. Several someones, in fact. Y’all know that I think political parties are pretty meaningless constructs, but if the mainstream Republicans still running (but not in the running) want to show that they do believe in their party (I’m picturing the Cowardly Lion: “I DO believe in parties! I DO believe in parties! I do I do I do I do…“), now would be a good time to quit and throw their support to a single rational candidate. Increasingly, as weird as that would have seemed when he first came on the scene, it looks as though that candidate would be Marco Rubio.

Or at least get it down to two, so that the Establishment has something of a chance against the two Unthinkables.

As to Rand Paul… Bob Amundson asked this morning:

Doug, who will libertarian voters support now that Rand Paul is dropping out?

Well, we sort of already have an answer from Doug (although I urge him to answer the question himself). Yesterday, he said:

Do you REALLY think your vote in the Republican primary could ever impact the results? If you’re voting for the most liberal Republican, it won’t make a difference.

I suppose I could skip the Republican primary and vote for Sanders because I’d prefer him over Hillary every day of the week and twice on Sunday… but what’s the point? I’m not voting in either because the only candidate I would ever support hasn’t got a chance – Paul.

I hope all of y’all will join me in urging Doug to pick a candidate he considers least bad (a Republican, or Sanders, or whomever), rather than surrender his franchise. Note that I’m arguing against my own inclinations here, since whoever is next on Doug’s list is likely to be last on mine, but I believe that strongly in his right and duty as a citizen.

This is the moment in the film when the crusty sergeant slaps the private back and forth across the face several times telling him, “You’re a MARINE, dammit! Snap out of it!” And the private says, “Thanks, I needed that,” and gets up and does his duty… OK, OK, so it doesn’t work with me as the crusty sergeant, or Doug as the private. I’m more the officer who taught school in peacetime and is working on his novel between battles, and is given to spontaneous lectures about Why We Fight. Doug is more the recalcitrant misfit who instead punches the sergeant for touching him and ends up in the stockade, again. (There’s a WWII B movie stereotype for everybody!)

But my point is, Doug should vote…

chorus line

29 thoughts on “‘Brushfires of Liberty’: Rand Paul drops out, too

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Huh. I just realized that “chorus line” picture of the GOP candidates I used doesn’t even have Rand Paul in it, although several of the undercard candidates are there.

    Guess he skipped that event. There are only 11 in the line…

  2. Bob Amundson

    We don’t need more disenfranchised voters. Honestly, I hold my nose most every time I vote, but I still vote. My wife and I laugh that our votes seem to be a “kiss of death.”

    PLEASE vote Doug; and to anyone else that feels their vote doesn’t matter, please vote so that your vote can matter.

    1. Doug Ross

      As I said in response to your original question:

      No one. They (and I) will likely vote for the true Libertarian Party candidate. Because we have basic principles that are not embodied in any of the pandering, hypocritical, corrupt egomaniacs who remain in the race. You Democrats and Republicans can take solace in knowing that whomever is elected will continue doing 90% of the same stupid things the other party would do. War, an unnecessarily complex tax system, spying on citizens, inefficient bureaucracies, Common Core, allowing illegal immigrants to drain resources that they aren’t entitled to. All that good stuff you keep supporting.

      If I vote in the primary it will be for Bernie just because I despise Hillary and would rather see a socialist in office than another corporate/military industrial complex/big government fool. Had Lindsey Graham remained in the race, I would have voted Republican for Rubio or Fiorina just for the satisfaction of making Graham look worse in his own state.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Could Doug and I be any more different? That “90 percent” of stuff the parties agree on (or WOULD agree on if they’d let themselves) is my comfort zone. The consensus reassures me there is a continuity of sanity in our society.

        The differences, the stuff they scream at each other about, is what I don’t like.

        Unfortunately, people run for office based on yelling about the differences, and then fail to provide consensus government once elected…

        1. Doug Ross

          All I would ask you to do is justify our current tax code either at the federal or state level. If you can do that, I will vote for whichever candidate you specify.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I don’t have to. We’ve talked about this before, too.

            The tax code is the result of many, many, MANY interests in the country having their say in the process. As long as those who legislate are reflecting what they’re hearing from the public, it will be a confused, often contradictory, tangled mess.

            Now if an absolute monarch created it, it would be far simpler, clearer and internally consistent, because it would be put together by a single mind. You could probably summarize it on one page, the way various anti-tax pols promise to do if only you will elect them.

            But I would think libertarians wouldn’t like that…

            1. Bob Amundson

              “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” (James Madison, The Federalist No. 51; February 6, 1788)

            2. Doug Ross

              “As long as those who legislate are reflecting what they’re hearing from the public, it will be a confused, often contradictory, tangled mess.:”
              Again I ask, who told the legislature to enact a 1% sales tax exemption for people over 85? Who did it? Who pushed for it?

              The tax code is not driven by people, it is driven by politicians trying to buy votes.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            And I am a LONGTIME advocate of comprehensive tax reform, here on the state level (which I’ve written much more about than the federal).

            But I haven’t gotten it. You know why? Because people who disagree with me get a say, which is enormously frustrating.

            Unfortunately, our lawmakers never listen to people who think comprehensively. They listen to people who claim their personal ox is being gored.

            For instance, you know a big reason why our state tax system is out of whack? Because ever since Republicans took over the SC House in 1995, ONE class of people have been listened to on taxes above all others: homeowners. So over the years, they’ve so distorted the system that now, homeowners pay basically nothing for school operations through their property taxes (unless they have a second home, or rental or commercial property).

            Politicians are very responsive to the loudest people who show up at community meetings in their districts — who tend, with Republicans, to be cranky, white members of the middle class. This is a big reason why I don’t buy into the paranoid, Bernie Sanders view that it’s all about billionaires pulling strings behind the scenes…

            1. Doug Ross

              We have a special 1% sales tax exemption for people over 85. Please tell me who asked for that and why any politician would feel it was necessary to do that? How many people do you believe were involved in forcing the legislature to enact that?

              I think you are 100% offbase on how the tax code was created. If you were right, we would have seen changes in the code that made it simpler. Who DOESN’T want that?

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Everybody wants that in the abstract, but few people want to give up anything that benefits them personally.

                Not many people value abstractions such as simplicity, fairness, stability, reliability, balance more than they value that odd little exemption that benefits them. I do, but I’m weird.

                And you REALLY don’t understand politicians if you don’t understand why they would vote for a 1 percent exemption for those over 85. It would cost practically nothing, and you get to look kind and respectful toward old folks — which plays well with almost everybody. Very few pols would dare vote against that. If they did, their next opponent would say they’re such big government lovers that they’ll even take old folks’ last penny (which would be incorrect and irrational, but this is politics).

                In South Carolina, you don’t ever have to wonder why a tax EXEMPTION or general reduction is passed. The majority is inclined to vote for ANYTHING that reduces somebody’s taxes.

                The miracle, the thing that calls for explanation, is the extremely rare circumstances when they RAISE a tax. Everybody wants to know how THAT happened…

                1. clark surratt

                  But Brad, there is an area where taxes are goint and apparently with approval. You made references to doing away with residential taxes for school operations. Once that was cleared, school boards pounced on the opportunity build monuments to themselves in the form of costly football stadiums and other buildings and haved talked voters into going along. Lexington districts are among the biggest spenders, and most people apparently like the pain; they vote for it. Me, I’m frosted about the outlandish spending while students in some districts don’t have a decent building or a decent teaching staff.

      2. Bob Amundson

        I’ve voted Libertarian before, and may again, but my definition of “limited government” is clearly different than yours. I like balance, don’t see issues as black and white. So guess what? I hold my nose frequently when voting.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I cannot imagine myself voting Libertarian, except under extraordinary circumstances in which party considerations become secondary.

          For instance, we once endorsed a Libertarian for county council, mainly as a protest against the incumbent. She had no other opponent — it was a safe Democratic seat, and no other Democrat had a chance of unseating her.

          Basically, what we were saying was, “We have such huge problems with this incumbent that we’ll even endorse a LIBERTARIAN instead…”

          A strong statement, but of course it had no effect on an election that was a foregone conclusion…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            At least, I THINK we endorsed the Libertarian. I remember deciding to do so, for the above-mentioned reasons. But sometimes we changed our minds — in one county council race, we did it after the piece was on the page, ready to go. (The result of a late-afternoon phone conversation with my retired predecessor, who knew the players in that district better than I. I don’t think I’d even called him about this; it just came up. He gave me a list of good reasons why I’d be a fool to do the way we had decided to go, so I pulled the endorsement.)

            Because I can’t remember that for sure, I’m not mentioning names. If I did and remembered wrong, it would be really embarrassing. I can’t remember the Libertarian candidate’s name, anyway. And the incumbent is no longer in office…

  3. Chris McCormick

    The cognoscenti will tell us that the Paul voters may go to Cruz, but as a Ron Paul supporter from the early days I find that laughable. Most obviously there is Cruz’s hawking posturing versus “real” Libertarianism’s non-interventionism.

    The messy things with Libertarians is that there’s a whole range of how strictly they hew to base principles, and all kinds of flavors. There are socially liberal lefty Libs, mean, greedy Ayn Rand style Libs, so-called “Libertarians” who are really just small government don’t-tax-me types without any other thought given to it.

    I think in this instance the media will play up Cruz but they’ll scatter to the four winds, and a portion (of Paul’s very small base) may go to Sanders, crazy as that sounds.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That’s not crazy.

      There IS no natural heir to Paul in the GOP field. Which, among other things, underlines how out of place Paul is running as a Republican…

    2. Doug Ross

      A true Libertarian has one core belief: Freedom. Freedom to do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t affect someone else. It starts with that and that naturally leads to a pacifist’s view of war, a reluctance to allow a government that goes beyond providing the basic services identified in the Constitution, and a passion for efficiency and ethical behavior.

      1. bud

        Freedom to do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t affect someone else.

        That’s an impossibility. Everything you do affects someone. That’s why we have laws and government and regulation. Like a whole lot of things Freedom sounds fine as a concept but the devil really is in the details. Allowing big corporations to run amok may fit into libertarian philosophy but it’s abhorrent to me and my man Bernie. Many libertarians, including the Pauls, were fine with corporate excess.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yes. Everything you do, and everything you don’t do.

          Which is why we Catholics beg forgiveness “for what we have done, and what we have failed to do.” I think most of my sins are in the latter category…

          1. Doug Ross

            You are wrong. Completely. What I do does not effect anyone else. What I eat, what I drink, what I say, what I choose to do as a job… the problem is all the people who want to tell me what to do and how my income should be distributed to support the things THEY want… especially when they think I owe more to their causes because my income may be hire. Why can’t I tell YOU where your money goes? I think you should all contribute 10% of your income to churches. Why won’t you do it?

            1. Brad Warthen

              Yes, that is the central fallacy that undergirds libertarianism — the deeply mistaken “certainty” that what one does and fails to do have no effect on others.

              This why I find it so hard to argue with libertarians. They really believe that. They’re unshakable in believing that. They’re quite adamant…

              1. Bob Amundson

                Neil Peart; Rush; “Bleeding-Heart Libertarianism.” There are many forms of l(L)ibertarian philosophy.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Well, let me quickly add that while I’m not familiar with “bleeding-heart libertarianism,” that’s probably what Doug practices. He’s a very generous guy who’s always ready to contribute to a good cause.

                  He just doesn’t like for government to be involved. Which to me is a barrier that doesn’t make sense…

                2. Doug Ross

                  Because I have a fundamental opposition to inefficiency. And I have decades worth of evidence that has convinced me that government is generally inefficient and frequently corrupt. I have the advantage of having spent my career working at numerous clients, both government and non-government. I’ve also run my own business for the past four years and dealt with the stupidity that exists in the government bureaucracy and tax code. There are so many aspects of the way it is run that could and SHOULD be changed to make life easier for everyone. But there is no incentive for that to happen especially when there is no competition for certain services.

                  I think you tend to deal in the abstract and ignore reality too much. Just like our difference of opinion on public transportation, we have different experiences dealing with government. I can only go by my actual experiences over the course of 50+ years.

  4. bud

    Brad your chorus line is missing several folks including Jim Gilmore, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

  5. bud

    Doug, I believe in freedom just as much as you do. I just define freedom a bit differently. Freedom to breath clean air not polluted by cigarette smoke or other toxic crap. I believe in freedom to expect a reasonable expectation of safety on the roads. (Just recently I heard from a libertarian that stated emphatically that he thought drunk driving laws were an infringement of his freedom. He suggested that only when someone hits someone should he be punished). I believe in freedom to expect prompt and affordable health care when I have a major health issue no matter where or how it happens. I believe in the freedom to purchase products that are not made in some sweatshop employing 10 year olds working 60 hour weeks. I believe in paying reasonable taxes made possible by a substantial levy on the wealthy who never really actually earn more than a fraction of what they control. I believe that my children and grandchildren should be free to live in a world not ruined by the ravages of climate change resulting from the greed of fossil fuel companies. And last but certainly not least I believe in the freedom to drink clean water anywhere in this country that has not been poisoned by the mismanagement of a clueless former vulture capitalist turned governor trying to save a few bucks to give wealthy people yet another tax break.

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