Why Rand Paul had to endorse Romney

Last night on Hannity came a sign that the Ron Paul campaign may finally be at its end.  The Congressman’s son and campaign surrogate, Senator Rand Paul, officially endorsed the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.  And predictably, countless tweets and blog posts were written declaring Rand a traitor to liberty.

But anyone who expected otherwise was severely deluded.  Rand has never been the devout libertarian that his father is.  He is certainly a libertarian-leaning Republican, and while he can often be a good ally to libertarians in the Senate, he is still first and foremost a Republican.  And as a Senator he has much less latitude to diverge from the party line and needs other Senators to cooperate with him.

Because of this, the chances of him endorsing Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson were somewhere around one in one billion.  While such an endorsement would make many libertarians happy, it would end his life as a Republican.  It would mean that he would have no party support whatsoever come re-election time.  It would alienate him from the party and mean he would get nothing accomplished in the Senate.

Similarly, all but the most quixotic supporters know that the Ron Paul campaign is over.  Ron Paul himself has acknowledged he can’t win and Mitt Romney has secured the necessary delegates.  The various party elements have begun coalescing around Romney and if Rand Paul wants a future in the party he needed to as well.

So while it may seem offensive that a liberty-minded person would endorse a candidate who supports such awful things as the PATRIOT Act and NDAA, it actually makes a lot of sense.  I’d even go so far as to say it may be a price worth paying.  If the endorsement solidifies Republican support and earns him points with the party establishment, it means he could have more freedom to chart his own course in the Senate.

The question on many minds is when the Paul campaign will “officially” end (it has certainly ended in any practical sense) and if the elder Paul will endorse Romney.  While this would surely enrage many hardcore Paul devotees, it could be Dr. Paul’s intention to simply pass the torch to his son.  Most certainly, he won’t be saying anything against Romney.

Will all of this sit well with some segments of the liberty movement?  Of course not.  But for anyone who thinks there is a chance of working within the GOP, this is all part of the price.  Personally, I have very little faith in ever making a dent, and I am supporting Gary Johnson this election cycle.  But if the GOP will be reformed, it will be by people like Rand Paul who play the game.

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