Sunday, June 10, 2012

Is Rand Paul a Bismarck, a Quisling, or a Chamberlain?

Rand Paul's endorsement of Romney may be realpolitik, or it may be an appeasement policy.  Barry Lyndon of Policymic argues that it was a political masterstroke. Nevertheless, realpolitik is difficult to execute; it frequently fails.  In choosing to play ball with the GOP, Rand entangles himself in the GOP's all-encompassing nexus of corrupt special interests.  Few politicians have so entangled themselves and survived without fundamental compromise.  Did it make sense for Neville Chamberlain to appease Hitler?  My point is not that Romney is Hitler; rather, Romney is a more powerful competitor who has little to lose from deceiving the Pauls.

The best example of realpolitik is its inventor, Otto von Bismarck, the German minister president who fashioned the German Empire, created the modern welfare state, and developed a complex set of alliances.  Yet Bismarck's system led, in a little more than two decades, to World War I, and I would argue his welfare state contributed to the rise of totalitarianism.  It is just as likely that Rand Paul's realpolitik will turn out to reflect that of  Vidkun Quisling.   Quisling was a Norwegian prime minister who assisted Germany as it invaded Norway; his aim was to lead a puppet government. 

Realpolitik is sometimes necessary, and Barry Lyndon may be right that Rand Paul's strategy will turn out to be effective.  At the same time, even Bismarck's realpolitik led to Germany's humiliation.  It is understandable that the Pauls' supporters are concerned.  Might Rand inadvertently be exploding the movement that his father has assiduously developed?  Even if his tactic works in the short run, might he be diverting and confusing the nascent millennial libertarian movement, causing its ultimate abortion?

New Gary Johnson Commercial

The other day, I was speaking to a waitress who supports Obama. She said that she dislikes the Republicans because they pander to special interests.  I suggested that Obama has overseen $29 trillion in swaps and other subsidies to global banks.  He has overseen bigger subsidies to Wall Street and banking than all of the preceding presidents in history combined contributed to all other special interests combined.  The waitress did not reply.  Mike Marnell, with whom I was having lunch, suggested that she would not change her vote. The American voter is a mindless drone. Voting for continuing the current system is a matter of habit. It is not going well; Americans are not doing well; the real hourly wage has not increased in four decades.  The conservative (in the European sense) philosopher Joseph de Mistre said: "Oute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle mérite," that is, "Every nation gets the government it deserves."  Perhaps America deserves Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. I hope that Gary Johnson proves that possibility wrong.