Rand Paul should re-read The Lord of the Rings before he goes around calling Donald Trump “Gollum.”

In a Facebook post, Rand Paul boldly declared that the 2016 election is not happening in Middle Earth but in real Earth, that it is not between a fire eye and the combined armies of men, elves, and dwarves but between Republicans and Democrats, and that in this great contest between the forces of good and the forces of evil, “Electing Gollum should not be our objective.” 

To Paul, Trump is Gollum, who in the books was born a good Stoor Hobbit named Sméagol before he was corrupted by the One Ring and mutated into a “a small, slimy creature” who craves nothing more than to be close to his precious ring.

Paul’s reading of Lord of the Rings is right insofar as he identifies the ring as a symbol for the corrupting influence of power. Where Paul errs is ... everywhere else:

[Trump] tells you he is rich, so he must be smart. If you give him power he claims he will fix America, but there is another tradition in America. A tradition that believes that power corrupts, and that our goal should be not to gain power but to contain power or limit Presidential power.... This race should be about which candidate will best protect you from an overbearing government. 

The Lord of the Rings is about how power corrupts, but it is not a Libertarian allegory a la Ayn Rand; nor does Paul ever address the fact that if Trump is Gollum, he must also be Sméagol. However, though it falls short as political argument, there’s still a good chance that this will become the most widely read work of literary criticism published in 2016.