Before we delve into what today’s libertarian visionaries get wrong about the American electorate, it is important to give Rand Paul his due. Even as Rand tries to distance himself from Ron, both men are driven by the same fundamental convictions that led Ron to bolt from the gop in 1987. Back then, Ron railed against Ronald Reagan for being a “warmed-over Keynesian” and a warmonger who was threatening America’s civil liberties. Indeed, Ron went so far as to run for president as the Libertarian Party candidate in 1988, when he won 430,000 votes just as Reagan’s even squishier vice president romped to a mammoth victory. Ron eventually made his way back into the Republican tent, though you get the distinct impression that he did so reluctantly. For one thing, Ron’s party affiliation never prevented him from denouncing other Republicans for their supposedly socialistic and militaristic ways. In March, the Pew Research Center found that 45 percent of Republicans believe many wealthy people don’t pay their fair share of taxes. That’s lower than the 63 percent of independents and the 72 percent of Democrats who expressed the same sentiment, to be sure, but it’s much higher than you’d think if the GOP were a straightforwardly libertarian party. And just in case you think this is a fluke, a new Washington Post–ABC News survey finds that when Republicans were asked if they’d favor a candidate who signed an anti-tax pledge over one who did not, only 26 percent said they’d favor the pledge-signer while 69 percent said that they’d favor the non-pledge-signer.
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