By now you've no doubt heard that Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas.) is retiring from Congress. During his recent farewell address to the House of Representatives, Paul gave a stern scolding and a final political warning to politicians and Americans saying, "if it's not accepted that big government, fiat money, ignoring liberty, central economic planning, welfarism, and warfarism caused our crisis, we can expect a continuous and dangerous march toward corporatism and even fascism with even more loss of our liberties." You can catch the 2-minute version of his 48-minute address in the video below.
So who will take up the mantle for Ron Paul's movement? Who is most likely to be the one that takes liberty to the next level? Conventional wisdom would say that his son, Senator Rand Paul (R-K.Y.) makes the most sense. He has maintained a voting record that is generally consistent with his father's record. The main source of contention among Paul supporters, however, was Rand's willingness to endorse Mitt Romney in the general election. While Rand's decision was likely motivated by a promise to speak at the GOP Convention, and thus political exposure nationally, many of his father's constituents feel like Rand deserted his father just when he was needed most. Despite his exposure from the convention, Rand has to deal with big stars in the GOP like Marco Rubio and Chris Christie. It seems unlikely to me that Rand Paul can make a serious run at the presidency from inside the GOP.
Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is a "fan favorite" of sorts among Ron Paul supporters. Amash is 32-years-old and would be qualified for the presidency by the time the 2016 election comes around. Amash's voting record aligns sharply with that of Ron Paul. He has unblemished support among Paul followers. He's young and energetic and proved that he is not a fluke by winning his re-election bid two weeks ago despite trailing in late-October polls. Just like Ron Paul, Amash comes under fire for frequently voting in favor of or against certain bills that seem popular to the nation. What is ignored is his reason behind the vote — his desire for smaller government. Still, his youth is perceived as a negative in politics, and the fact that he too is fighting from within the GOP make him an unlikely challenger before 2024.
Gary Johnson is the one I see galvanizing the liberty contingent and make real inroads in the political system for the Libertarian Party. He managed to garner 1% of the popular vote in 2012 despite really only gaining traction in September and October. Gary has an excellent resume. He is a very successful businessman who won successive terms as governor of New Mexico, a decidedly Democrat heavy state, as a Republican. One of the more popular numbers that Johnson advocates like to point out is that he took a $500 million deficit in New Mexico and made it a billion dollar surplus by the time he left office. Unlike Paul and Amash, Johnson left the Republican Party and has committed to the Libertarian Party for the future. Johnson does not come without his detractors, however. Most notably, hardcore Republicans do not like the fact that he is pro-choice and for repeal of DOMA. However, as Johnson puts it, "I'm more liberal than Obama and more conservative than" Republicans. With his apparent commitment to running in 2016, it seems Gary Johnson plans to take the liberty movement and use it to turn the establishment upside down. Here's to hoping he can do just that!