The meteoric rise of Donald Trump is par for the course as far as GOP nominations for presidential candidates are concerned. While there is much to condemn in his platform (a mix of nativism, dirigism, and a celebration of all things Trump) and his evident plan to elevate the imperial presidency to new heights, it has been quite some time since the GOP stage was ever a forum for intelligent debate. Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012 was simply the exception which proved the rule.
Rand Paul, by contrast, is quiet and self effacing; policy oriented and obviously the product of eclectic intellectual influences. In his speeches and events Paul is a relentless critic of profligate government spending, the regulatory state and bellicose foreign policy. His is a campaign of ideas, unlike Trump's cult of personality, and harkens back to the grand tradition of the Old Right as exemplified by Howard Buffet or Robert Taft. Paul has also been a vocal advocate of civil liberties and of the right to privacy in this age of the blossoming surveillance state.
The Paul campaign is a reminder that in the long run ideas and ideology can trump narrow economic interests and that politics can be elevated to something more than base rent seeking. Whether or not Paul succeeds in capturing the GOP nomination or the presidency his unabashed advocacy of limited government will no doubt inspire a new generation of activists to reject the status quo of an ever expanding role of the federal government. Unlike conservatives, who are obsessed with the short run and forever fretting over the latest election, libertarians should recognize that the success or failure of our movement depends entirely on our ability to enunciate the importance of freedom and to recruit others to the cause. We can, nay we must succeed and likely we will but victory will be achieved through broad educational efforts both inside and outside of the political process.