As has become embarrassingly obvious of late, America has become the land of eternal winners where a massive soul-crushing failure is not the End Of All Things but a mere setback on the great continuum. In America, time is a flat circle and hope springs eternal for the good people who live on the sunny side of the street where every half-full glass has a silver lining. Or something like that.
We’re kinda stupid that way.
As an excited Young Master Marco Rubio explained to us a few weeks ago after he finished a (predicted) third in the Iowa caucuses: third place is awesome. Third place is not losing. It’s second runner-up … it’s first-place twice removed … it’s an exciting opportunity to do better.
In that vein, no candidate ever drops out and admits failure. Campaign are “suspended” because the electorate is not ready for so much awesomeness, or the time isn’t right.
Here is never-had-a-chance-in-hell-OR-Louisiana Bobby Jindal not admitting that he spent months riding the Fail Train to Loserville:
“I’ve come to the realization that it is not my time,” Jindal said. “I am suspending my campaign for president of the United States. I cannot tell you what an honor it has been to run for president of the United States.”
Okay. Buh-bye. Don’t’ forget to write.
And then there is libertarian darling Rand Paul.
After coming in 4th runner-up in Iowa, Paul bailed on his presidential dreams after he came to realize that the invisible hand of the electoral market was giving him the finger — and not in a pleasing prostate-massaging kind of way.
As Reason editor Nick Gillespie put it so delightfully, “his presidential campaign went tits up.”
But fear not, hard-eyed Libertarian Randian realists, according to Matt Kibbe at Reason, “Rand Paul Is Out — But Libertarianism Is Finally Mainstream.”
O-kay. Take it away, Matt:
“Rand’s failure to win the Republican nomination in no way signals the end of the ‘libertarian moment.’ Politics is a lagging indicator of social change, and the measure of a social movement is better taken upstream from voter turnout,” he wrote before pointing out that Rand beat out Jeb “Please Clap” Bush, Fiorina, Christie and Kasich in Iowa — making Rand the tallest midget in that caucus room.
But how did Rand propel libertarianism forward into the onrushing Golden Era?
“Rand has seeded another generation of liberty-minded young people, much like his father did in 2008 and 2012,” explains Kibbe.
While it is true that Rand beat his dad’s 2008 Iowa results — up one spot, but out of the money — Big Daddy Ron’s “Ron Paul rEVOLution” finished in first place in 2012.
Like, first first place.
Nonetheless, Kibbe continued: “Of course, Rand’s venture in 2016 was very different from his father’s. He was in it to win it.”
Cue Pyrrrhus of Epirus: “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.”
After giving libertarianism a touch of credit for Donald Trump’s reality show campaign bluster, Kibbe went straight for the masturbatory money shot:
“Welcome to the big leagues. Libertarians are now mainstream, no longer relegated to basement book club arguments about the moral failings of ‘minarchism.’ Our values offer a serious alternative to both right wing and left wing statism,” He wrote. “Liberty creates robust communities with an upward potential far greater than any one of us could have consciously designed. Government coercion undermines this organic sense of social responsibility and community, pitting us one group against another. Rand, of course, made real inroads on the right and the left with these principles, applied to real-world problems.”
Who knew that the 1,900 GOP votes out of 284,184 cast in New Hampshire that Paul still received after dropping out earlier was worthy of a call-up to The Bigs to do battle with “real-world problems”?
I could end this by pointing out Ayn Rand’s libertarian superman fantasies pale in comparison to the self-affirming delusions of someone trying to polish the Rand Paul presidential campaign turd, but John Rogers said it first — and better than anyone ever will — in 2009, when he wrote:
“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”