Matt Lewis

On immigration, Rand Paul proves to be more libertarian than Old Right

For those keenly interested in the disparate and subtle flavors of conservatism, Rand Paul’s support for looser immigration laws was a teachable moment.

Paul lives at the nexus of two ideologies: The Old Right (aka, paleoconservatives) and libertarianism.

Quite often, these two flavors compliment one another, uniting in opposition to the neocons and other factions on the right. In fact, many casual observers are likely to conflate the two.

But on the issue of immigration, there is a disconnect.

As a rule (generalizations are always dangerous) paleoconservatives tend to be populist and protectionist (think Pat Buchanan). They worry a lot about immigration and stress border security. Conversely, libertarians tend to be less nationalistic, instead viewing themselves as citizens of the world.

As advocates of free markets and trade, libertarians tend to believe immigration laws should “match the reality of a dynamic society and labor market.”

Based on today’s news — on the immigration issue, at least — it’s clear Paul’s libertarian side won out.