The last vote of Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012 had barely been tallied when people began looking four years ahead to the 2016 presidential election. Now, with the calendar just having turned to 2014, the pre-campaigning campaigning has begun in earnest. Of course, this is despite the fact that the entire House of Representatives, plus one-third of the Senate, are up for grabs in the meantime. These 2014 elections are very important (including a very interesting race right here in Mississippi) and I will surely talk more about these later on this year, as the primary and general elections approach. Today, though, I wanted to talk about one of the national rising stars in the Republican party: Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul.
Paul is just one of the many hopefuls trying to win the Republican nomination. He burst onto the national political scene in 2010, when he defeated the Republican establishment’s pick for the open Kentucky Senate seat, and went on to win the general election. His father is former Texas Republican Representative and presidential candidate Ron Paul, and both Ron and Rand have carved out a libertarian niche for themselves within the Republican party.
Since becoming a Senator, Rand Paul has argued for the basic Tea Party platform (repeal Obamacare, no new taxes, etc.) but has also been a thorn in the side of establishment Republicans. Paul has come out strongly against drone strikes and against domestic surveillance, both of which have been supported by Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Paul has also called for an audit of the Federal Reserve, the US’s central bank whose processes are not easily understood, and has supported state’s rights to legalize marijuana and same-sex marriage. Paul even recently suggested that the Iraq War was a mistake, and was set up by VP Dick Cheney so that his former company could make huge profits. This is much like what some Democrats have been saying since the beginning of the war.
Paul has amassed large support among Tea Party conservatives, and these libertarian positions have allowed him to draw some support from a younger (but still predominantly white and male) crowd. These people are attracted to Paul because they see government as working on behalf of big business (not entirely untrue), and they think electing Paul would return more power to the people.
This would be a huge, huge mistake.
Paul’s philosophy is vehemently anti-government regulation, at a time when we need government regulation of businesses and banks more than ever. The economic crash of 2008 was caused in large part by a lack of accountability for the huge banking industry, which allowed it to run roughshod over the consumer, the home-buyer, the college student, the small business owner, and even the government itself.
Paul opposes any kind of campaign finance reform that would limit the amount of money that is allowed to be spent on elections and candidates. Now, when income inequality is at its highest point since right before the Great Depression, we need someone who is going to fight FOR campaign finance reform to ensure that our elections are won fairly, not bought in back-room deals.
Paul is adamantly anti-abortion, to the point that he has said he would not allow for an abortion even when the mother’s life is in danger, or in the case of rape. Not only is this out of line with his “anti-big government” philosophy, but it should also be extremely scary to women, and to all men who have women in their lives.
Now, none of these positions are unique to Rand Paul. Honestly, whoever the Republican nominee is in 2016 will probably hold all three of those views, and more that I would have big problems with. But Paul is in a unique position to appeal to young voters who are fed up with a liberal or Democratic government being too slow to act for the common citizen. Unfortunately, if Paul is elected, government wouldn’t just be unable to get those things done. It would be unwilling, too.