The Daily Beast: Why Real Libertarians Hate Rand Paul

rand paul

Posted to The Daily Beast
March 20, 2015
By Olivia Nuzzi

On a Saturday afternoon in mid-January, Brett H. Pojunis, the chairman of the Nevada Libertarian Party, stood outside his office on Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, ashing a cigarette and dissing Rand Paul. “We’re the Libertarian Party,” he told me, dramatically stretching out the word in his New York accent. Paul, a member of the Republican Party, was in town for a visit ahead of formally launching his bid for the White House, and Pojunis didn’t particularly care.

“Libertarian,” he said, is now just “a buzzword” for Republicans like the Kentucky senator. If Paul was really so libertarian, Pojunis had some advice for him: “Well, OK then—join the Libertarian Party!”

Pojunis led me inside past some staffers hunched over a computer trying to select a new party logo. “Is this too swastika-y?” he asked, pointing to an image closely resembling the Nazi insignia. We walked past a room cluttered with memorabilia from Baywatch, the 1990s TV show featuring bikini-clad lifeguards, and Pojunis explained that it was the personal office of Michael Burke, the creator of the show and a possible Libertarian Party candidate. “He literally has a key to the Playboy Mansion,” Pojunis said.

Anecdotally, when I’ve talked to Libertarians who identify as Paul supporters—particularly those who campaigned for his father, former congressman and two-time presidential candidate Ron Paul—they acknowledge the reality that Rand Paul may be the best ambassador to the mainstream political world they will ever get. In other words, the senator is not the ideal libertarian (an oxymoronic phrase, given the amount of infighting among libertarians about what exactly that is), but he comes close enough, and certainly closer than any other likely presidential candidate.

But Pojunis and his aides said those Paul supporters were fools. Libertarians who back Paul, he said, are “getting all the downside of compromise and none of the upside.”

Two months ago, there was little reason to think that Nevada’s Libertarian Party, which is considered slightly off the rails even among fellow libertarians, represented anyone other than its own 12,000 members. But some of Paul’srecent foreign policy pronouncements have some libertarians, especially those who gravitated to his father for his steadfast opposition to the war in Iraq and George W. Bush’s hyper-hawkishness, sounding like Pojunis and his fellow Nevada radicals.

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10 thoughts on “The Daily Beast: Why Real Libertarians Hate Rand Paul

  1. Gene Berkman

    “Hate” is a strong word, and I would suggest that real “Libertarians” don’t hate Rand Paul, they just disagree with him on a wide variety of issues. If you hate someone like Rand, it says more about you than about him.

    And really, did a staff person have to show a symbol that might resemble a swastika to a news person in the context of the Libertarian Party searching for a new logo? Is everyone tone deaf these days?

  2. NewFederalist

    “And really, did a staff person have to show a symbol that might resemble a swastika to a news person in the context of the Libertarian Party searching for a new logo? Is everyone tone deaf these days?” – Gene Berkman

    It would certainly appear so!

  3. Matt Cholko

    Yeah, the logo thing doesn’t play well. Also, Pojunis and his fellow Nevada radicals is an interesting statement. It just goes to show you that radical is a completely subjective term.

    Overall though, I’d say this piece is right on, and well played by Brett.

  4. Thomas L. Knapp

    I agree that “hate” is a poor descriptor. I certainly don’t “hate” Rand Paul.

    I just recognize that he’s not a libertarian, and would never, ever, ever vote for him to hold any political office any more than I would Elizabeth Warren or John Boehner.

  5. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    I like the father. I’ve voted for him often, beginning in 1988. But I don’t like the son.

    Whereas Ron was stubbornly principled, and even seemed to enjoy being an outsider (e.g., Dr. No), Rand seems too ambitious and willing to sell out.

  6. Andy Craig

    I don’t hate Rand Paul. I disagree with Rand Paul, just like I do Cory Booker and Mike Lee and Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio. When they do something good, by all means credit where it’s due. But on the majority of issues where Libertarians and your average conservative Republican disagree, Rand sides with the latter, because he’s a conservative Republican.

    It shouldn’t surprise anybody that when an incumbent Republican Senator goes around campaigning against LP candidates and endorsing their conservative/establishment Republican opponents, and tries to position himself to win libertarian votes and support while not granting us any significant concessions on the issues, that he’s not going to be particularly well-liked by the LP.

    At the end of the day it only really matters if Rand is the GOP nominee though, and that’s not going to happen. There will be a lot of whiny back-and-forth as Rand-ites throw a fit that anybody would dare continue to be a member of the LP while the One Best Last True Hope of Liberty is running in the GOP, and then when Rand loses the primary and drops out to endorse Bush/Walker 2016, most of that animosity will evaporate overnight and most of the minority of actual libertarians among Rand’s base will vote for the Libertarian nominee.

  7. David Colborne

    I know which proposed logo they were talking about, and yeah, it was a little swastika-y. It’s not immediately noticeable unless someone points it out, but once they do, it’s pretty blindingly obvious.

    Still, it’s nice seeing the Nevada LP in a relatively favorable news story for once. I’ll take it.

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