I’m not sure what to think. My opinion of the Paul family is mostly shaped by Ron Paul. You remember him right? Older gentlemen, never met a government agency he liked, has a bunch of college-age follower-droids, ran for president several times. Ron Paul is for many the only introduction into libertarianism they have had. Having been “schooled” time and time again by Ron Paul followers who seem to all use the same pre-determined arguments (like zombies repeating what they were taught at the mother ship) against everyone and anyone who may even slightly disagree with them (like calling them “statists” and no different than President Obama), I’d grown weary of the libertarian movement.
Taking a look at the “liberty” platform, they definitely have some solid core beliefs. Government should be smaller, much smaller. Civil liberties good, government intrusion bad. Good stuff.
Then they go off the deep end. They want to legalize all drugs, end the Federal Reserve (I’m sorry everyone, I agree it needs more review like regular audits, but you can’t just “End the Fed”), legalize prostitution, and legalize same-sex marriage.
Libertarians are natural allies to Conservatives on issues related to the size and scope of government (though I’m not sure both groups agree on the degree of that scope). However, I cannot nor will I ever support legalizing heroine and prostitution.
But, given the mammoth size of our government, it seems that coming together on our shared fiscal concerns should be paramount. However, I’ve never met a Ron Paul supporter who is able to have a meaningful conversation about areas of relative agreement between conservatives and libertarians. As soon as I say something like, “are you sure we should end ALL foreign aid? What about for war-torn countries or for Israel? Maybe we should just reduce the amount we dole out and ensure our aid only goes to allies?” The Ron Paul supporter will respond by flying off the deep end and telling me that I am in bed with the Left and that my ideas would lead to the end of America as we know it.
After having several interactions at various events during the last few years (and lots of arguing on Facebook), I came to the conclusion that whatever the Ron Paul supporters are selling, I don’t want it. They are a badly-behaved bunch who lose the opportunity for persuasion by choosing to engage in disrespectful behavior with an all-or-nothing mentality that only allows for their version of libertarian purism.
So, you can imagine my surprise over the last several months as I’ve watch Sen. Rand Paul. I fully expected Senator Paul to behave in office like his dad did (don’t get me wrong, I think that Ron Paul is a good man, but he was not an effective legislature). I’ve gone from being pleasantly surprised at Senator Paul to now finding myself cheering for him and hoping that he is real thing (and this is not just a show). Consider the evidence:
Rand’s filibuster- Let’s face it, that was the best television we’ve seen in a long time. It also demonstrated, however, the commitment of Senator Paul to issues he deems of vital importance. He had a point to make and he made it. He is a leader.
Rand’s stance on drugs – Rand has often discussed the overcriminalization of drug offenders. He is not trying to legalize drugs, but to have a more reasonable approach to the so-called Drug War (are we still doing that?). In other words, he has found a position that appeals to someone like me, a staunch conservative, and that may actually get some traction. And he has a point. Someone caught with drugs at a very young age can be in jail for decades based on our zero-tolerance policy. I’m not sure I agree there should be no jail for drug offenses, but a policy that considers the nature of the crime and the individual involved is one worth considering.
Rand’s visit to Howard University – Senator Paul had the guts to visit Howard University. He got both cheers and jeers from media onlookers and blogger-pundits. However, it certainly was a gutsy move, especially considering the fact that he spent time after his speech in a Q+A session. He didn’t ace every question, but assumedly he learned from his experience and will be even better the next time.
Rand’s recent letter on immigration – Okay, if you are like me, you are wondering what has taken over Senator Rubio. He is peddling his immigration bill on all sorts of conservative talk shows. He is gutsy, for sure. To actually have an on-air interview with Mark Levin on an issue Levin disagrees with is, well, nearly suicidal. But, trying to push the bill through without reasonable debate is naturally causing concern by many. (Also, whining that not allowing illegals amnesty is like slavery crosses the line). Senator Paul, in light of the tragic events of last week in Boston, has asked for more reflection on the immigration bill. He sent a letter to Sen. Reid asking that the legislation be examined with analysis on the bombings and determine what immigration failures may have taken place. Smart move by Sen. Paul. He is absolutely correct.
Rand’s commitment to life – This got little attention, but a few weeks ago, Senator Paul introduced the “Life at Conception Act.” He knows a bill like this will never even see the light of day, unfortunately, but it is good to know where he stands. He had a fiasco recently on CNN when asked about abortion. He said there are “thousands of exceptions” to his pro-life stance. He later backtracked and confirmed he is truly pro-life. I’m going to choose to believe he misspoke on TV trying to find ways to find common ground with the host vs. not actually being pro-life. He’ll need to work on the message. But, I’m grateful to see him introduce the “Life at Conception Act” legislation if for no other reason than it demonstrates where he stands. Also, it ticked off liberals (and you gotta love that).
My point in all of this is Rand Paul is doing a good job of positioning himself close enough to libertarians to pick up some of their vote, but far enough away so as to remain credible with conservatives. He certainly is not concerned about getting moderates. That is fine with me. So, when he runs for President (that’s right, I said “when” and not “if.” Let’s not fool ourselves. He is not just considering a run, he is doing everything he can to prepare for a run), I think he may be a viable option.
However, I would advise him to not use his dad as a debate coach.
Lisa @ AmericaisConservative.org