Rand Paul dropped out of the Republican presidential campaign after he came up shy of five percent in the Iowa caucus. This must have been a tremendous disappointment to ... well, nobody.
All along, the myth of Rand Paul (and of his dad, That Weird Elf-Kid From Legend If He Got Old And Was Super-Duper Racist) basically has been as follows: The right’s obsession with waging wars both cultural and, uh, military had underserved/was underserving/is underserving traditional conservative principles of limited government, fiscal discipline, and individual liberty. This has alienated a body of smart, skeptical, rational people, who can’t be pandered to with anti-intellectual horseshit or roped into culture-war signaling or rallied around whatever the next great unnecessary foreign war might happen to be, but who also mistrust liberalism’s notions of an empowered, activist government fixing people’s problems. These people were fundamentally conservative, the myth goes—more so along certain axes than their Christian-right brethren, even—and the Republican Party lost them in its rush to solidify the South. These people, according to the myth, are the Pauls’ constituency.
In short, the myth was that South Park fans are libertarians, rather than blithe, privileged nihilists. Or rather, the myth was that those two things are not actually the same thing. The myth was bullshit. The reality is Donald Trump. The South Park bloc’s pants are down, and its dick has a world-historically embarrassing combover.
Superficially, to whatever extent Trump can be said to have actual political positions beyond repeating what the guy next to him said and claiming to be better at it, he and Rand Paul share ideological common ground about as thick as a pencil. Certainly Trump does not even bother pretending to care about principled limits on the size or function of federal government, or enforcing fiscal discipline consistently across all manifestations of it (or at all), or erring on the side of avoiding rather than seeking foreign wars. That has not prevented him from rendering Paul-brand “libertarianism” almost completely redundant.
That’s because the very last thing Paul-brand libertarianism’s fleeting popularity was ever about was Ron or Rand Paul’s professed libertarian ideas. No, all along, the vein Ron and Rand Paul tapped into wasn’t rational libertarianism or principled dissatisfaction with the Republican Party, but mere sour, snide, irreligious contemptuousness: the practiced, unearned misanthropy and disaffection posed as a coherent outlook by the internet’s slightly-smarter-than-average suburban teens. Donald Trump just packages it better and more honestly, as the frontrunning it always has been. He gets South Park—its cheap spite, its self-congratulation, the fantasy that privileged scorn for political correctness is subversive, rather than the exact opposite—better than the Pauls ever did, which might not be the very worst thing you can say about him, but still is pretty bad, because South Park sucks.
Anyway, fuck Rand Paul. If he believes his brand of conservatism is good for anybody but the powerful, he’s an idiot, and if he doesn’t, he’s a fraud. The dais will have no shortage of either for him having been winnowed the fuck off it, and South Park fans don’t vote anyway, at least not until you can cast your ballot via Reddit.
Top photo via Getty