The popular libertarian-leaning presidential candidate, Rand Paul, suspended his campaign recently. Just like his father before him, it was always a long-shot going against more mainstream, less ideologically fervent candidates.
For many liberty-lovers who are dismayed at this, a reminder is needed that the fight for libertarian principles has been and still is a long-term fight. It doesn’t rest within one single candidate.
Let’s say Rand Paul had become president, he would not be able to restore all of the principles that made this country great, single-handedly. Gridlock in Washington makes it nearly impossible for even some of the most obvious policies impossible to get through a committee.
Legislation which would allow terminally ill patients to try experimental medicine prior to full FDA approval, known as “Right to Try” legislation, has passed almost half of the nation’s state legislatures with nearly unanimous approval. However, according to the Goldwater Institute’s president, Darcy Olsen, in her book The Right to Try: How the Federal Government Presents Americans from Getting the Lifesaving Treatments They Need, she describes despite several similar bills being introduced at the federal level, this legislation has gone nowhere fast.
Keeping this in mind, libertarians and other liberty-lovers must keep a realistic perspective. Should some Calvin Coolidge/ Ron Paul/ George Washington hybrid candidate appear and miraculously become elected President in the near future; the most we could hope for is only a slowing down of the federal government’s growth and overreach.
It will take several cycles and a paradigm shift to realistically hope for more than the occasional pro-liberty policy, or destruction of bad federal legislation. Yes, there could be a small chance of repealing Obamacare someday (even though many Republicans propose “replacing” it with an unspecified replacement). Perhaps, there will be an audit of the Federal Reserve. Maybe even a change in the tax structure, making it less destructive. It will take more than this to really get this country back on track.
Real, long-term change is going to come at the state, local, and individual level. We must continue to advance policies through our state legislature, city councils, as well as changing the hearts and minds of those around us.
Freedom didn’t die with Rand Paul’s campaign. The liberty movement is not dependent on people, but ideas. The long-term fight to take this country back from authoritarians, who think they know how to run your life better than you do, continues.
And should we see a day with minimal government coercion, where individual rights and free-markets reign supreme, it will not be over. Keep in mind the quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson (regardless dispute over it’s historical accuracy): “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”