Thursday, March 28, 2013

Can Rand Paul succeed where his father failed?

We all know that the Republican Party is in its death throes. Even its chairman is doing a post-2012 autopsy to try to come up with a way for the party to remake itself. In the meantime, it seems as though Republican legislators are content to continue their obstruction while they scramble to find a coherent platform and/or come up with a leader to take the reins.

Into that breech has stepped Senator Rand Paul. While the neocons like Senators McCain and Graham are sidelined, he is clearly trying to make a case for his brand of libertarianism as the alternative that might save the Republican Party.

Of course Paul's challenge is how to grow a constituency large enough to take on the Democratic coalition that appears to be positioned for national prominence in the years ahead. Knowing that what Republicans have done in the past with things like their appeals to so-called "Reagan Democrats" (ie, Southern Strategy) won't work, Paul is taking a different approach.

Like his dad, Senator Paul is working on his appeal to the left (ie, emo) flank of the Democratic coalition. That's what his 13-hour filibuster about drones accomplished followed almost immediately with his talk about reforming mandatory minimums for drug offenses.

While I think Paul's filibuster was a ridiculous distraction from the conversation we should be having, I'd join him if his efforts to reform the mandatory minimums.

But if he thinks those kinds of positions give him an edge in attracting liberal support for a presidential run, its high time we took a look at the whole package he's offering. I'll admit that there is a problem with clarity in doing so because he seems to be morphing on many of his positions as we speak. I don't trust it though. When those changes come just as he is trying to position himself for a run at the 2016 nomination, they are highly suspect.

For example, it seems that all of the sudden, Sen. Paul supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers. He just doesn't want to call it that (upsets the tea party bigots, you know). But as Adam Serwer points out, that transformation comes on the heels of being a believer in the "Amero" conspiracy (the secret plan to merge Canada, the United States, and Mexico and create a "borderless mass continent" under a single currency called the "Amero") as recently as 2008 and cosponsoring a bill to end the 14th amendment's birthright citizenship in 2011.

Senator Paul has also recently gone all squishy on the issue of marriage equality.
”I’m an old-fashioned traditionalist,” the senator later told National Review. “I believe in the historic and religious definition of marriage.”

At the same time, Paul suggests that the tax code and health insurance should be made neutral so that gay couples benefit from the same breaks as married ones. And like Rubio, he has said that gay marriage should be left to the states to decide. He said Sunday that he is okay with the government is “neutral” on gay marriage; in February he said he was “not sure” how he felt about DOMA.
One area where we can be pretty certain of Rand Paul's views is on the issue of a woman's right to choose. As recently as last summer, he was pushing an amendment to the federal flood insurance bill that would have ratified that life begins at conception. I'm not sure how that fits with his "states rights libertarianism" - but there you have it.

Of course we all know about Senator Paul's reluctance with regards to the 1964 Civil Rights law. He's tried to waffle quite a bit on that one. But it seems clear to me that he is at least ignorant about the intransigence of racism in thinking that without federal regulation, private businesses would have rejected their Jim Crow practices of discrimination.

But all of this actually pales in comparison when you take a look at the Senator's position of fiscal policy. It didn't get much notice, but he just released his own budget proposal a couple of weeks ago. The jist of it is that Rep. Paul Ryan's budget didn't go far enough.
To eliminates the deficit in five years, the senator would abolish the Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, while privatizing the Transportation Security Authority. Paul would also slash taxes on the rich by establishing a 17% flat tax and eliminating capital gains taxes.

What's more, Paul's budget plan would raise the Social Security retirement age and privatize Medicare, while taking health care benefits away from millions of Americans by eliminating the entirety of the Affordable Care Act.
I'm one who believes that budgets are a statement of moral values. And to put it bluntly, what Senator Paul proposed is immoral. I know of no other way to express it. Its hard to imagine a federal budget that would do more to beef up the trajectory we've been on towards income inequality than his ideas. No matter who you are or what issues you care about, they would have a devastating impact on your life unless you're part of the 1%.

Any self-respecting liberal who would support his presidential aspirations should be ashamed of themselves - regardless of what he has to say about drones.


  1. My gut reaction is that he won't be any more successful than his father. He's just Paul 2.0. He won't get any more votes on a national stage than his father did. In my neck of the very crazy woods the Paulites, while highly organized, are not welcome in the Republican party and are constantly out-maneuvered by the local GOP tactics of the uber conservatives. I honestly believe that the political classes give way too much credit to the Paulite movement. They're just a bunch of organized rabble rousers stuck in adolescence.

    1. I'm not so sure Tien Le.

      The lack of cohesion in the Republican Party right now gives Rand an opening that his dad never had. I don't know if that's enough - but it changes the equation a bit.

      My interest is in making sure liberals have the facts about Rand. If that avenue of recruitment fails, he won't be going anywhere - regardless of what Republicans do.

    2. When talking to voters on the street and at meetings and knocking at doors gave me the perspective that if a so-called Liberal supports Paul Sr. or Jr. they have no desire to listen to any facts about the rest of the Paul ideology or voting record. It's a cult following. We can full on expose them to who these men really are and they just refuse to listen.

      I write them off and go for increasing the electorate instead. For every "liberal" Paulite out there I can find 10 new voters who are willing to support Democrats. Get 'em registered then get them to vote. Much more valuable use of my time.

    3. I'm with you on your strategy 100%.

      But I'd just add that Paul's filibuster was successful in gaining attention from a wider group of liberals. Its those people that I'm aiming at here - not necessarily the hard-core believers that have always been with him.

    4. I'm actually more concerned about libertarians joining militia groups or going "underground" than I am about them being a viable political threat at the polls. They hate government even more than conservatives and us a result, they lack political and party discipline. However, liberals should be made aware of the snake oil Senator Paul is trying to sell them.

  2. Any liberal taht falls for Paul's nonsense needs to stop calling one's self liberal. Rand Paul's a fucking idiot. And if that bullshit filibuster was enough to convince one to stand with Rand, that person needs to take some time out to study politics.

    As far as Senator Paul's party goes, they aren't going to let him get the nomination. Some old school baggage will conveniently come out and derail his run. They did the same to his daddy.


  3. Charles P. Pierce made up the "Paul Five Minute Rule", if I remember the name right. Pierce observes that if you listen to Rand Paul (or his father Ron) for five minutes, you will agree with everything he says. But at 5:01, he will say something that is completely WTF.

    It's the Paul Five Minute Rule that limits the Pauls' appeal to their cult.

    1. Pierce cut it to two minutes for Rand. It's sad when you're more kooky than your father.


  4. I don't think Rand Paul will be as successful as his father. He will be less so. I've also heard talk about the possibilities of libertarians taking over the GOP. However, if anybody thinks this will make the GOP more viable, think again. Libertarianism is even more white male dominated than conservatism. And its supporters are just as rigid and extreme in their views.

    But, seriously, I doubt the libertarians have the political know-how to even attempt taking over the GOP. Of all of the 3rd parties out there, they are the weakest because they hate government so much. And as a result, they are disorganized, not really that committed, and never agree on anything. And despite their liberal views on social issues, they are not very empathetic. This is why libertarianism is such a huge turn-off for most women, non-whites, and a significant number of white men. However, that didn't stop me from believing during my college days. Yet, I wasn't a very friendly and compassionate person back then anyway. Today, I'm definitely not a "warm and fuzzy" person, but in college, I was much worse. I left libertarianism a few years after leaving college. This political philosophy doesn't last long once you join the "real world."

    Anyway, I don't trust the Pauls' libertarian stance. The fact that both Pauls are anti-abortion is major red flag. And his stance on Civil Rights legislation makes me cringe. It undermined the entire "drones" filibuster fiasco. It demonstrated that Senator Paul cares more about the civil liabilities of suspected terrorists who attack our country than he does for a large segment of Americans here at home.

    Any left-winger who gets taken in by Senator Paul needs to re-examine is their views. Emo-progressives who supposedly hate the Tea Party need to think again, too. He's completely in the Tea Party's back pocket, so they honest think he's really that friendly?

    1. The other thing Rand Paul has going against him is that he doesn't have a scintilla of charm. Couple that with him basically being a nitwit and you've got the perfect candidate for the Stupid Party. Even if he does advocate legalizing weed, if you're a liberal, you'd have to be really high to vote for him. And if you're that high, you'd probably forget to vote.