EspañolWhether he wanted it or not, US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) now has the backing of one of libertarianism’s most strident and prominent academics as he campaigns for the presidency. Walter Block, the longtime anarcho-libertarian and Austrian-school economist, released a 1,400-word comment via Facebook this Saturday evening, entitled “The Libertarian Case for Rand Paul.”
“I stand with Rand,” he wrote, “and I urge my fellow libertarians, particularly those who have been most dismissive of him, to reconsider their position on this man.”
Block, a tenured professor at Loyola University New Orleans, believes that his own “libertarian credentials are about as good, among the living, as anyone else’s on the planet.” Lew Rockwell, founder and chairman of the Mises Institute, has dubbed him Mr. Libertarian, and commitment is not a matter of debate for the author of Defending the Undefendable (1976). Block’s uncompromising and combative style has earned him the sarcastic moniker of “the moderate.”
A long-time supporter of Rand’s father, Block also wrote Ron Paul for President in 2012, and he laments that “The acorn has fallen too far from the tree in this case.” However, when it comes to electoral politics, Block is willing to acknowledge that “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”
“He is by far the best we have [and] It cannot be denied that Rand is pretty darned good from a libertarian point of view – compared with the realistic alternatives.”
This announcement comes even after Rand Paul has distanced himself from Block. A 2014 New York Times article sought to sully the younger Paul with comments from Block taken out of context, and Rand countered that Block was just “some guy who I’ve never met.”
How liberty-minded constituents will engage with the upcoming primary and subsequent presidential election remains a matter of hot debate — if they will engage at all. Various libertarian commentators have had choice words for Rand, describing him as a “false hope” and chastising him for having “directly insulted libertarians.”
On the other hand, overt-anarchist Jeffrey Tucker has defied such criticism to express his support for Rand’s candidacy. Even he, though, has a warning: “Those people who say that a President Rand Paul will save us or doom us are both wrong.… let’s cool it on the saint making and witch burning.”
A final challenge to Rand among this potential voting block comes from former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who ran on the Libertarian ticket in 2012. At this stage Johnson looks set to receive the nomination again, and is bringing a lawsuit to gain access to the presidential debates.
Block acknowledges that Johnson is slightly more in line with libertarian ideology, but he has little interest in a third-party candidate. Ron Paul’s failed campaign with the Libertarian Party in 1988 led Block to believe that a GOP candidacy is the best way to garner the necessary coverage and publicity to both spread libertarianism and potentially win.