I almost lost faith in Rand Paul. For awhile there, he seemed to be siding with the histrionic GOP establishment in the worst way, reaching his nadir, in my opinion, when he signed the famous letter to Iran. I started to wonder if Rand had gotten a taste for power and, like every other sitting politician on the national stage I can think of, was willing to do whatever it took to get and use that power. However, one nagging thought kept me from giving up on Rand: How could someone who was raised by Ron Paul, who had shared an apartment with him upon arriving in DC, be just another self-serving senator? I couldn’t imagine it. Just being exposed to Ron Paul from afar gives me the courage of my convictions, I couldn’t imagine that living with him, being his son, wouldn’t give a man enough courage for a lifetime. Fortunately, as Rand’s campaign unfolded, my faith was restored, and today, as he withdraws from the presidential race, I see him serving the greater purpose I had hoped he would.
Ron Paul spent many years shouting into the wind, or so it seemed. Possibly the best-ever Saturday Night Live skit demonstrates the impression people had of Dr. Paul, the crazy uncle who sits in the corner at family get-togethers and whose rantings no one can follow. Yet, when the time was right, Ron Paul started a firestorm of ideas, a return to principle, a call to wrest back the Republican Party from the neo-conservative liberal-fascists and return it to a party of small government and defense of liberty.
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Ron Paul had stated that his primary goal was not to win a presidential election but to spread the word and keep the founding principles of the United States alive in the minds and hearts of the citizenry for when those ideas were needed to rebuild this society from the ashes into which it is descending.
Despite this purely ideological goal–or perhaps because of it–the establishment had a heck of a time keeping Ron Paul voters at bay. As I watched the 2012 primary and caucus coverage on TV, I heard Dick Morris say, “a vote for Ron Paul is a vote for Obama,” and newscast after newscast simply skipped over Ron’s stellar performances (“ignore you better still”) even as he got 21% of the Iowa vote (and that was the official tally–credible witnesses say there was funny business in Iowa, Maine, Nevada, etc.) behind Santorum and Romney’s 25% each. I heard not one mention of the fact that in a head-to-head race against Mitt, with virtually no advertising in Virginia, Ron got 40% of the primary vote. But no matter what Ron did, there was no way the media or the establishment would give him the press or the fair treatment at the polls he would need to go over the top. (This is what reveals the lie behind the Trump-Fox feud–Fox would have simply ignored Trump if they really were afraid of him.)
At first I thought that Ron was outside the “Overton Window”–that he had a platform that was too far away from the mean on the issues to actually get enough votes. But Ron’s success made me call into question the very notion of the Overton Window. Playing it straight and ideologically pure seems to have been winning the day among voters, but–and this is a big “but!”–it would never get the establishment to unbar the door.
Perhaps Rand saw this obvious fact and decided to test the alternative thesis. Perhaps Rand thought, as Ronald Reagan is reported to have thought, that you can’t win ’em all no matter how hard you try, so pick a thing or two and get it done. If Rand were to compromise on almost everything with the establishment, perhaps he could still audit the Fed or end NSA surveillance. Even one big win during one term as president would be worth the compromise–after all, every single other politician won’t even get that one big win, it’ll be all welfare and warfare (and surveillance and debt and over-policing and….you get the picture) all the time no matter which party is in power.
Perhaps Rand communicated this willingness to compromise and was encouraged to believe it would be well-received. Unfortunately, however, this did not pan out. The compromise alienated Rand’s ready-made base (Iowa favored Rand over every Republican and Democrat when polling first started in 2014, yet he finished in the single digits on caucus day), and the establishment marginalized him anyway, going so far as to exclude him from the January 14 Fox Business News debate (they claimed he technically did not qualify, but they could have let him in like CNN did for Carly Fiorina under the same circumstances).
Rand’s choice was not in vain, however. He proved that compromise will not work, and although he had a much lower showing in the caucus than his father had, it was not a loss, it was a gain. Rand has liberated himself and us all from thinking compromise with the establishment will pay off. He can, and has, returned to unapologetic ideological purity, and his path forward is clear.
Ron Paul held a unique place in this country’s body politic: he kept the remnant alive when no one else did. That remnant is still alive and needs one small beacon of light to shine out from DC as an ember of hope for the American Experiment. Some say losing all hope is just what we need to start the Second American Revolution and try again to establish a society of sovereign citizens who can ensure liberty and justice for all, but that’s not my position. I don’t think that a reset will end in anything but an acceleration of our descent into totalitarianism. No, I believe we need to hang on for as long as we can to the Bill of Rights as it is even if we are dangling by one fingernail, and I believe that Rand Paul, like his father before him, can give us enough of a grip on these protections to keep us hanging on for one more generation–if he can keep his seat at the table in DC.
As I saw the evolution of Rand’s presidential campaign and the mood of the liberty movement evolve with it, returning to his camp as his ideals returned to center stage, I realized that Rand’s true calling must be to follow in his father’s footsteps. Rand must maintain his Senate seat, he must read into the record, as his father did, that We the People have not given up on the Founders’ vision, that we still know the meaning of liberty and justice for all, and that we are not going down without a fight. Rand can force “them” to answer the critical questions: “How does NSA spying conform to the 4th Amendment?” “Where does Obamacare fit into the eighteen enumerated federal powers in the Constitution?” “Who authorized the President to unilaterally destroy sovereign nations?”
The only joy I got out of following the 2016 presidential race or watching the GOP debates had been hearing what Rand had to say, but I feared he would neglect what I believe is his true calling to represent from his seat in the Senate all of us who still value the objective rights delineated in our founding documents. The only person on this year’s GOP stage by whom I would consent to be governed would be a President Rand Paul…barring that, I celebrate with renewed hope a second term for the Junior Senator from Kentucky, a state I do not call home, but who sends to Washington a man I can truly say represents me.
Thank you for your efforts and good luck Senator Paul!