He has shown himself to be a liar and flip-flopper, changing positions at the slightest hint of resistance. This is very different from compromise. One can hold a compromise position, such as Ron Paul’s suggestion to eliminate the empire so the welfare state can survive, but be consistent in holding that position. We simply can’t know what Rand Paul really believes or how he will behave in the future, regardless of what he says now, especially when the going gets a lot tougher. He has let himself be pushed around by the worst political factions, so we really don’t know whether he would be “better” than any of the other candidates as a practical matter.
At the very least, a libertarian candidate should not propose an increase in state power, even if he can’t promise to reduce it very much. Yet Rand Paul inexplicably does so, by calling for a new war on ISIS. This means we start playing the “lesser evil” game that always ends up in a growth in state power. Each office holder just increases the power in different areas, but cumulatively, it is a steady, across-the-board growth, just as history has shown.
For libertarians, are political campaigns about getting power or about educating the people in libertarian ideas? Ron Paul’s was certainly about the latter and that’s why he had such a big effect. Rand Paul’s is about getting political power and it is an abysmal failure. There simply is no libertarian constituency to speak of in this country, hence all the compromises and flip-flops. You have to educate the masses first – that’s why for libertarians it makes much more sense to spend energy on an education campaign rather than on a traditional political campaign. A libertarian political campaign is thus a means to an end only, the end being education, which means the clarity of the message should be valued above all. Rand Paul’s lies and flip-flops and state-expanding proposals muddy this message and destroy the libertarian brand because of his association with his father. His campaign is a negative from the standpoint of educating the masses.
“So which candidate is better?” It’s almost impossible to calculate this as a practical matter. There are so many contingencies that it’s futile to try to predict how a person will behave in office, and what the consequences of the actions will be for individual liberty. This is especially true of a demonstrated liar and flip-flopper. What it really comes down to is a rationalization for people to justify supporting a candidate they are attached to, due to personality or rhetoric. There is really no calculation for who will be “better” and I have yet to see such a credible, concrete calculation by any Rand Paul supporter.
The question “which candidate is better” ultimately misses the point, because a libertarian political campaign is not strictly about politics. It’s not just about voting. What matters is the educational aspect, participating in the propagation of a message, volunteering, donating, and otherwise spending time and energy on a goal. All of these things are thrown out the window on a candidate that does everything to tarnish the message. “Which candidate is better” has produced decades of incremental growth in state power, because the fundamental premises were never questioned on a national stage, until Ron Paul. A better question for libertarians is, which candidate will advance the message of individual liberty in people’s minds, so that eventually even mainstream politicians can’t help but adopt libertarian positions due to popular demand.