Rand Paul could make a run for the White House in 2016. However, why aren't more libertarians rallying around him like they did for his father Ron Paul? The simple answer is Rand Paul is not Ron Paul. Though they share some similarities, they differ from each other in several key ways that do not endear Rand to many libertarians.
First, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) plays the political game far more than Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) ever did. He is willing to work more with the Republican leadership and make compromises. For example, in the 2012 election, he endorsed Mitt Romney. Though good politics if he wants the support of the Republican establishment in 2016, it did not sit well with many libertarians who saw Romney as an opponent of liberty.
Second, Rand Paul’s foreign policy can be characterized as more hawkish than that of his father. His vote in favor of new tighter sanctions on Iran was seen as indicative of a more aggressive foreign policy. This further alienated libertarians who were attracted to Ron Paul’s non-interventionist approach.
Finally, Rand Paul views on social issues are likely too conservative for many libertarians to stomach. His highly criticized remarks joking about gay marriage indicate that Rand is not socially liberal. Ron Paul, though personally a social conservative, argued for less federal government intervention in marriage and other social issues.
To conclude, many libertarians’ lukewarm reception of Rand Paul stems from his approach to these issues. He differs from his father in being less ideologically pure, more aggressive on foreign policy, and more openly socially conservative. None of these are traits that will win him greater support among libertarians.