NEW YORK, March 18, 2013 — After speculation as to whether Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) would actually throw his hat in the 2016 Presidential race, key libertarian supporters are seriously eyeing the possibility, judging the GOP’s tolerance for a real change of ideas.
Paul continues to flirt with the possibility of a run. His recent comments reflect post-election frustration by GOP lawmakers who finally accept the need to broaden the party’s appeal, and its politics have begun to shift from the neo-conservatism of Senator John McCain in the direction of Paul’s opposition to President Obama’s drone war, kill lists, and the use of NDAA provisions to restrict civil liberties at home.
In the past, Paul has taken libertarian positions on federal drug legislation (e.g., reforming America’s marijuana laws). These include relaxing penalties for drug crimes and eliminating some classes of drug crime entirely, positions likely to be attractive to some minority and young voters. He has favored comprehensive and realistic immigration reform. He believes that the nation should adopt an easier pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, recognizing the importance of border control in key states like Texas, California, and Arizona, all of which are key electoral battle ground states. He has supported healthcare legislation, reforms to gun control laws, and has taken a tough approach to resolving our $16 trillion federal debt.
The question facing many conservatives is, did the 2012 Ron Paul campaign demonstrate that a libertarian candidate can be a viable candidate for the White House? Did it say anything about Rand Paul’s chances of winning the presidency?
A Rand Paul presidency would mark an incredible turn for the 45 percent of independents and the vast number of minority moderates who have looked for libertarianism to come to Washington - fiscal seriousness matched with less eagerness for war against foreigners, war against civil liberties, war against drug-devastated minority communities. Many conservatives have begun to believe that, in the wake of Obama’s reign it’s time for changes in the GOP, but could Paul and the Party’s libertarian branch be the change the GOP needs to lead the American republic and save the Party of Lincoln at the same time?
GOP leadership is still trying to explain why Republican voter affiliation has decreased nationally amongst minorities, and why Obama gained more voters in the most recent election cycle than in previous years.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference, Rand Paul thrilled the audience with his 13-minute speech, fresh on the heels of his filibuster against Obama’s CIA nominee over the possible use of drones against Americans. Pundits, writers and conservative bloggers all agree that Paul’s energy and tenacity will enhance his chances for a White House bid, but they have concerns. Among those are Paul’s opposition to elements of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which could affect his chances with minority voters. Some pundits claim that the GOP can only remain relevant in presidential politics if it appeals to minority voters, especially Hispanic voters, by moving away from conservatism. Conservative pundits believe Republicans have failed for not being conservative enough.
What the pundits miss as the most important factor in improving the fortunes of the GOP and the nation’s current ills is diversity - not mere racial diversity, but diversity of ideas and a willingness to break categories to look for real solutions. Senator Paul has stressed this type of diversity over and over again. He’s no respecter of GOP and conservative shibboleths.
Is the libertarian-conservative movement the right way to move the nation forward? It avoids neutered reactions to Democratic solutions. Libertarians embrace a big tent approach to racial and gender tolerance, but with a strong market orientation and fiscal conservatism that is often sufficient for those who support and promote an honest conservative agenda.
America’s youth turned out in droves to support Ron Paul’s bid to win the GOP presidential nomination, and that same energy created an immense spark for Rand Paul’s supporters Thursday afternoon at CPAC. Rand Paul could prove to be a strong contender for the White House with his mix of libertarianism and conservatism, and that mix may be what it takes to make conservatism a truly electable option.
Brandon Brice is a graduate of Howard University; Rutgers University’s Graduate Eagleton Institute of Politics and is currently pursuing his studies at Columbia University. Brandon is a blogger and political contributor for HipHopRepublican.com and is a writer for Communities, Washington Times.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.