After the predictable and par for the course move by the media to bump Rand Paul off the main debate stage and in with the also-rans, Senator Paul made a move that surprised many pundits and observers. Instead of accepting the demotion and participating he declined to attend and instead scheduled his own multimedia Town Hall style meeting for the same time slot.
Aside from being the right move for anyone wishing to maintain their dignity and self-respect, it is becoming clear that it was also an advantageous move. CNN reports that Paul’s “decision to boycott the sixth Republican showdown … has resulted in far more airtime and significantly larger audiences than Paul could possibly have hoped for at the … debate.” Not only has Paul dodged the stigma of appearing on the undercard, he has scored a tactical victory over the forces attempting to shut him out.
None of this is surprising to friends of Liberty that advocate a more aggressive stance towards the media supported effort of the two party Machine to marginalize us.
Compare this response to that of Lawrence Lessig when he was shut out of the debates. His posturing amounted to little more than the public equivalent of whining and stamping his feet. Then he took his ball and went home – which is exactly what his opponents wanted him to do. Similar responses like lawsuits and other forms of public complaining have a history in the Libertarian Party. None of which will be successful and all of which paint the participants and the party in an unflattering light. Rather than stalwart champions of Freedom they come off as a pathetic band of litigious pygmies.
What Rand Paul refused to do – what all friends of Liberty need to learn not to do – is play the victim card. The Libertarian Party is supposed to be the vanguard for the ideas of personal responsibility and self reliance. They are being – and will continue to be – locked out of the process and the dialog. Even Paul has dismissed the relevance of the party on the national stage. So, are you gonna cry about it?
The truth is that Rand Paul has demonstrated what the answer needs to be – every time. Instead of begging and scraping for media attention on their opponents terms the party should be focusing its resources on solutions to run past the blockade. That includes refusing to appear in also-ran scenarios, rather than jumping for joy over getting noticed.
It also includes the choice of candidate that the party ultimately decides to nominate for each open office in this election cycle. If the party fails to nominate confident, potent candidates that operate outside the range of expected behaviors, they will be contributing to the continued irrelevance of the cause of Liberty and of the Libertarian Party. There are tremendous opportunities in 2016, but they are not up for grabs and they will not be bestowed. They will have to be taken. The meek may ultimately inherit the Earth but they shall not inherit the 2016 election.