Sen. Rand Paul should be where Donald Trump is now. Not just on top of the polls for the GOP Presidential nomination, but the top candidate in the hearts and minds of those look to send message to the political establishment, that of the one-fingered salute.
Alas, he is not although he very well could have been. Timing is everything in politics and unfortunately Paul's rotten timing finds him carping at Trump for his lack of party loyalty of all things. The movement which created Rand Paul was the ultimate in being against the establishment yet it is now led by a man who desire to suck up to it for personal political gain had left him high and dry when the mood of the electorate has decidedly turned against what Paul had either hoped for or was counting on.
And there's really not much Paul can do about this either. Having tied his political fortunes to one of the most unpopular Republican leaders in the country and also his fellow Kentuckian, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Rand cannot simply break his ties and denounce McConnell without looking like an opportunistic fool, especially when Paul has to foot the bill at a grand total of $750,000 for a statewide caucus in Kentucky instead of a primary. Normally state political parties pay for such changes in order to help out the local boy running for President. Even if there was recalcitrance, a few calls by McConnell to his flunkies on the state party executive should have greased the thing along. Now Rand had to spend precious funds to pay for a caucus so he can continue to run for the Senate and the White House.
Not only has McConnell not helped when it has come to intra-state party affairs, he hasn't helped on the money end as well. One would think a Senate Majority Leader would have access to donors willing to help out Paul's Presidential campaign. Yet no such luck. Rand can't even get coal companies in Kentucky to help him out (unless, of course, he continues his run for the Senate).
The term is know as "playing the long game" in Paulville, yet for all the sucking up Rand has done for the establishment, it's has availed him nothing or better yet, far less than expected. He endorsed Romney in May 2012 well before his father conceded defeat and got his prime-time convention speech. Does anyone remember what he said? He gave away his contributor lists, let his minions fix it so his father wouldn't be nominated at the convention even thought he had the votes to do so for almost nothing in return except for a lousy speech. He backed McConnell for re-election right away in 2012 and worked hard for McConnell to handily beat his primary opponent Matt Bevin. Yet McConnell has done nothing to help Rand raise money or build campaign infrastructure. Some endorsement from Senate Majority Leader. I could of made the same endorsement of Rand or you could and would have had the same effect.
Indeed, Rand may well have hitched himself and much of his team to a falling star. McConnell is symbol for many tuned-in voters and activists what's wrong with the GOP. These are the voters flocking to Trump. They could have stood with Rand and perhaps some of them did...once. But one more apparent flip-flop or one more "Rand later clarified..." was too much for some of these supporters to take. One more campaign to take down LP candidates whether from the Virginia's governor's race in 2013 to last year's mid-term election completely turned them off. Of course, if you happen to be a libertarian Rand still wants your money, his team will even lie to try and get it. This is before you realize that the LP is a waste of time and a dead-end street and you should support the Rand Paul for President effort.
This is not to say things can't turn around for Rand if events propel the kinds of ideas or concerns people have which Rand is strongly identified with to the forefront of the campaign trail. Along with bad timing, Rand also has the bad luck to share the same state as an unpopular party leader, one he can't just shrug off. He can't attack McConnell, it would look opportunist and shallow and stupid (not to mention being a first in American politics, a candidate attacking one of his own endorsers). It would be hard for him to shed an establishment label he himself sewed together in both word and deed. He's stuck with it and stuck with McConnell. He's still better than all the Republican candidates put together, but that has the same status as being the tallest building in Topeka, Kansas at this point.