Tags: MidPoint | David Boaz | Rand Paul | 2016 election

Cato's Boaz: 'Libertarian Conservative' Rand Paul Crosses Party Lines

By    |   Tuesday, 07 Apr 2015 04:40 PM

Sen. Rand Paul is not a devout libertarian like his father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, but his worldview is close enough on matters of personal and economic liberty to make his upstart presidential bid intriguing to people of all political stripes, says libertarian think-tank executive and author David Boaz.

"I would point out that he's never said he's a libertarian," Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Tuesday, shortly after Paul declared himself a Republican candidate for president.

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"He calls himself 'libertarian-ish' or a 'libertarian conservative,' " said Boaz, "but he has enough libertarian views that yes, American libertarians, including me, are glad to see him running and glad to see the American people are going to be offered this choice that cuts across party lines, cuts across liberal-conservative lines, and can appeal to a lot of people."

Boaz, author of "The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom", said the philosophy of personal freedom and limited government he espouses is one that Republicans support — partially.

"You sort of have a sense that the Republicans support economic freedom," he said. "But when it comes to some personal freedom issues they're not so good — with the drug war, putting lots of people in jail, some people would say same-sex marriage, things like that.

"Libertarians also tend to favor a more cautious and prudent approach to overseas wars, foreign policy," he said, "and that's where Rand Paul is bringing a libertarian-ish message to the Republican primary race.

"He's very strongly in favor of smaller government, freer markets, less regulation, less taxes," said Boaz, who wrote an op-ed for Newsweek defending Paul's approach to libertarianism  as politically and electorally pragmatic.

"He's also talking about putting fewer people in jail for drug laws," said Boaz. "He's talking about less government spying on the American people, and being more careful about getting involved in overseas wars."

Boaz didn't balk at Paul promising on Tuesday to do "whatever it takes to defend America from these haters of mankind," referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"All libertarians believe in doing what it takes to protect the life, liberty, and property of the American people," said Boaz. "It's just that libertarians disagree on what will actually work."

"Now I don't want to be speaking for Rand Paul on that point, because he obviously has said recently that he thinks America does have to militarily confront ISIS — a position that some libertarian non-interventionists would disagree with," he said. "So he's not a full-fledged non-interventionist, it would seem, and he's certainly not an isolationist. He doesn't want to cut us off from international trade and cultural association and so on.

"But he is saying we've been at war for 15 years, let's think about whither it makes sense to keep on getting involved in these wars and let's make sure that Congress makes that decision — not just one man," said Boaz.

Recent history has helped bring attention to the libertarian critique of government, said Boaz.

"I do think that from the Patriot Act to the bailout of Wall Street to Obamacare to the NSA revelations, you have pushed a lot of people in the direction of thinking government is too big and too intrusive," he said, "and the candidate who is really going to address that in all of those areas is Rand Paul."

Boaz and others see that evolving view of government as one possible basis for a presidential electorate that crosses lines — both ideological and generational.

"One of the things he thinks he can do is bring young people into the Republican Party," Boaz said of Paul. "He's going to launch his Iowa campaign at the University of Iowa so that will be one test for him: Can he actually get young people excited about him and excited enough to show up in a New Hampshire primary and an Iowa caucus?"

Earlier on "MidPoint," Mark Hemingway, senior writer with The Weekly Standard, argued that Paul is challenging the conventional wisdom that he lacks a path to the Republican presidential nomination.

"He's trying to make his own path, which is something that Barack Obama did in 2008," said Hemingway, nothing that Obama "didn't have a conventional base of support [among] blue-collar whites and other Democratic voters, but he went ahead and forged his own path with new demographics.

"And Paul is looking to do the same thing," he said, "and to underestimate his ability to do that this early on will be a big mistake."

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Sen. Rand Paul's worldview on matters of personal and economic liberty make his upstart presidential bid intriguing to people of all political stripes, says libertarian think-tank executive and author David Boaz.
David Boaz, Rand Paul, 2016 election
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2015-40-07
Tuesday, 07 Apr 2015 04:40 PM
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