by Michael Lowrey
Jerry Taylor of the Niskanen Center has a new column out for Fox News on Rand Paul’s disappearance in the Republican presidential race. Some key points:
The collapse of the Rand Paul campaign speaks volumes. In a 15-person field, Paul is the only candidate who looks even remotely libertarian (social tolerance, foreign policy restraint, and limited government). He started the campaign with decent name recognition, a seat in the United States Senate, lavish media attention, a serious will to win, and a battle-tested, national political operation inherited from his father, Ron.
If there were any significant support for Libertarian ideas in the GOP — any at all — Rand Paul would be near the top of an otherwise crowded, fragmented field that is fighting over every non-libertarian voter in the party.
Yet he’s polling at a mere 1 percent among Republican voters nationwide and has a higher unfavorability rating than anyone else in the GOP race.
According to an August survey by the independent polling firm Eschelon Insights, far and away the most popular candidate nationwide among libertarian-inclined Republicans is Donald Trump, the least libertarian candidate in the race.
The secret of Trump’s appeal to Paul’s base is that a large segment of the “Ron Paul Revolution” leavened its libertarianism with a pony keg of crazy. Birthers, 9/11 Truthers, a wide assortment of conspiracy theorists (many of whom believe the Federal Reserve to be a modern manifestation of the Illuminati), and naked racists rivaled the number of reasonably sober libertarian-ish voters among the faithful.
Trump won their hearts by throwing even more crazy into the mix and stirring up a white, working class populism last given political life by George Wallace.
Well, you get the idea. The whole thing is well worth a read.