In early September of 2015, I wrote an article detailing my experiences and thoughts regarding Dr. Rand Paul and his campaign for president. Although some fellow Paul supporters advised me to publish at that time, in the hopes of righting a foundering ship, others were concerned that it could hurt his chances. At that time I was tremendously disappointed in his campaign, but as I still hoped Rand Paul would win the Republican nomination (or at least draw more people to the liberty movement), I decided to sit on the post. Since then, unfortunately, I have heard that others have had experiences similar to my own.
Now that his campaign is over, I thought it important to share my dealings in the hopes that doing so will help shed at least some light on what went wrong so that future candidates and campaigns seeking the liberty mantle can avoid acting likewise.
September 8th, 2015
Like many of you, deciding whom to support for president in 2016 has been a difficult decision. Although I worked for Dr. Ron Paul, I did have some important reservations about his son. His support for the reelection of the unprincipled Senator Mitch McConnell over his conservative challenger in 2014 and his newly changed position on drone strikes are two important examples. However, after Rand Paul’s spirited stance in defense of our civil liberties in late May and early June, I decided to seek a position with his campaign on June 3rd. Shortly thereafter I engaged in a series of email exchanges with one of the fellows on the campaign. After a couple weeks, he asked if I could assist with the petition drive to get Rand Paul on the ballot here in Virginia, which I agreed to do.
And then, as has been the case on so many campaigns, I waited. About once a week or so, I would call them, hoping for some kind of update. In late July, this same staffer sent me another email asking if I would be willing to spend the weekend volunteering for the campaign in Northern Virginia. I responded that although I would like to, I couldn’t afford to travel around the state for free. At that point, he did not communicate with me further.
After two months, it seemed that my waiting had finally paid off. On August 4th, I received an email from their Field Director, Dave Ramirez, stating, “I hope you’re doing well. Sorry I’m circling back on this just now. Just wanted to connect with you in regards to the campaign. If you’re still interested, is there a day and time to connect over the phone?” Within an hour, I responded saying that just about anytime would be good for me. I also left a couple of messages with the national office in case he didn’t get my email.
By August 18th, I realized that even though the campaign had asked me to help in collecting signature to get Rand Paul on the ballot, they still had not sent me the proper forms to do so. In Virginia, they need to collect 5,000 signatures, a fairly high threshold. Therefore, I made a few calls to some of my fellow liberty-minded folks in the state and, shortly thereafter, I had the form.
Then, on August 21st, the staff told me that they would contact me on either that Friday or the early part of the next week. Finally my waiting had come to an end…or so I thought. However, Friday came and went…as did Monday. On Tuesday, shortly before close of business, I contacted them again. I was told that they would now contact me on Wednesday, August 26th. Fine, I thought. Wednesday came and went. There was no phone call, no email, there was nothing. Did they intentionally mislead me?
As you might imagine, at this point I was rather annoyed that the Rand Paul campaign did not honor any of their own self-imposed deadlines or at least have the courtesy to explain what the holdup was. I certainly didn’t want to bug them, but after those target dates slipped away I began calling them regularly in the hopes that I might get someone, anyone, on the phone. And, from time to time, I was able to speak to someone. Most days I called several times until I could actually talk to a real, live person. However, each and every time it was some different staffer and he or she always told that either Mr. Ramirez was out of the office or in a meeting. For several of them I would take several minutes to explain the situation. Surely they would have the decency to get back in touch, right? Last week, I spoke with a fellow who identified himself as part of their legal team, but he promised would relay my message.
I was at a loss as to what to do. I reached out to a group called Virginia for Rand Paul. Although they were more than happy to speak with me about volunteer opportunities, they ignored my request for assistance in reaching the national campaign. I tried emailing the first guy and Dave, but neither answered me. Over this most recent weekend, I received the Twitter handle for several of the Paul staffers and decided to tweet to them in the hopes someone would respond. One did on Sunday and he asked for my email address. However, as of Tuesday, there was no additional follow-up.
On September 8th, I was determined that that day would be the day I would finally get my conversation. However, things took an interesting and unfortunate turn. I called their office in the morning, right around 9 AM, when I assumed that they were opening and no one answered. I didn’t see much point in leaving a recorded message, as doing so hadn’t worked so far. I tried again about an hour later with the same result. Right after lunch I called again. Still no one. Would the Paul campaign finally honor their word? Then, at 1:50 PM, I finally reached someone. The person on the other end of the line asked me if I was Joshua. I told her that I was. At that point, I was expecting her to say that she would transfer my call to Mr. Ramirez or perhaps she would apologize for all of the waiting that they had put me through. Instead, she told me something exceedingly shocking…that if I called their office again they would contact the police and acquire a cease and desist order. A threat?! I tried to explain myself, but she interjected by adding that they would call me if they wished to speak to me and then hung-up before I could get a word in edgewise.
I must say that I am floored by this response…a loss for words. As a fellow Rand Paul supporter told me after I relayed the story to him (and please pardon the language), “Yeah we can’t have that shit, this election could still be won but we appear to have a bunch of sycophants in charge.” Prior to this time I was collecting signatures to get Dr. Paul on the ballot, but now? How can I continue?
I have to wonder. Who is running the Paul campaign? Are they so dishonorable or lazy that their word means nothing? Are they so incompetent, shortsighted, or unprofessional that they treat all of their supporters with such disdain? Does the campaign have even the slightest interest in winning? Do they have any hope to spread the liberty movement like my former boss and Rand Paul’s father, Dr. Ron Paul, did? Or is the campaign nothing but a farce, run by people who don’t care about our shared principles, are deceiving the liberty movement, and perfectly willing to take our time and money and offer nothing substantive in return like a 1980s style televangelist? Is there any wonder why recent polls have shown that Rand Paul’s support has been cut in half…or more?
All I can say is that I am profoundly disappointed with the Paul campaign. I don’t know what is wrong with them. Who in the world has Dr. Rand Paul chosen to surround himself with?
February 15, 2016
Getting back to the present day, my anger and frustration began to dissipate after a few weeks of fuming. But, as no one likes to be led on, either professionally or personally, I didn’t help the Rand Paul campaign any further.
Still, it was shocking that Paul did so relatively poorly in Iowa. After all, his campaign touted that they had made over a million phone calls in the state and had over a thousand precinct captains. In 2012, Ron Paul finished a close third, winning many counties, and ended up with the lion’s share of the delegates (22). However, at the end of the day the Rand Paul campaign only managed to get a disappointing 8,481 votes or 4.5%, winning zero counties, finishing fifth in the crowded field, and capturing only one delegate. Nevertheless, one would assume he would have fared considerably better in the next contest of “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire. I don’t think many of us could have predicted that Rand Paul would drop out after the first state.
Unfortunately, as I wrote as early as 2014, I think Rand Paul surrounded himself with some disreputable people who routinely offered him poor advice such as: in order to win a greater following you need to cozy up to the establishment, jettison some of your libertarian principles, and it would help to publicly denounce your father, Ron Paul. I would argue that anyone who suggests such ideas isn’t really an ally of the liberty movement. Yes, it is important to say things with tact and to be mindful of your audience, of course, but if you dilute or pervert the message, if your campaign deceives your supporters, or if you have left the liberty movement weaker than when you have found it, then you have forgotten your most important purpose.
Recently, we’ve heard that some of Rand Paul’s top staffers have gone to work for establishment candidates. His campaign manager has shifted to Marco Rubio and one of his senior advisors works for John Kasich. My question is, how can you ever hope to “Defeat the Washington Machine” if many of your key employees will gladly prop up the Washington Machine assuming the price is right? When your campaign is run by people who don’t support the overall message of liberty or you prop up a corrupt Senate Majority Leader, then it should come as no surprise when your loyal, long-time followers melt away like snow in a spring thaw. I think Dr. Rand Paul realized this fact, and pivoted back to his roots in some of the recent debates, but by then it was too late to recapture the momentum of his father’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
Looking back on the 2016 Paul campaign, it is important to remember Morton Blackwell’s Laws of The Public Policy Process including:
Sure, things may seem down right now, but the good news is that the drumbeat of liberty marches on. It is perfectly reasonable to feel depressed about the outcome of the Rand Paul campaign, but always remember that the movement is much greater than a single candidate or campaign. Rand Paul 2016 may be over, but the fight for liberty continues. We cannot surrender; we still have important work to do.