Rand Paul: Political Shape Shifter

BuzzFeed has an interesting article about Rand Paul’s anticlimactic announcement that he’s running for president. Based on interviews with people inside and close to the campaign, it reveals that there is an ongoing debate over who exactly Paul should try to be in order to win. And so far, he’s chosen to be whatever a given audience wants him to be.

For the past two years, the advisers and allies around Rand Paul have debated — quietly and heatedly — how to position the libertarian-leaning senator in the 2016 primaries. Which of the many distinct and disparate tribes of the Republican Party should he court most aggressively? How will he combine those pitches into one cohesive message? How will Rand win? But now, as his candidacy is finally here, interviews with nearly a dozen insiders suggest that the Paul camp has yet to reach a consensus on which constituencies will comprise the “Rand Paul coalition.”…

On one side, there are those in Rand world who argue his best bet is to unite his core base of libertarian activists with elements of the GOP establishment and traditional donor class. In the other camp are advisers who say conservative evangelicals — many of whom share the liberty movement’s growing sense that Republican elites and mainstream moderates hold them in contempt — are a more natural fit.

Paul has spent time reaching out to both camps in recent years — alternating emphases with the ebb and flow of the ongoing debate within his inner circle — but many have told BuzzFeed News over the past year that they expected the candidate to eventually pick one approach or the other. Instead, several sources said, it appears he and his chief strategist, Doug Stafford, have decided to pursue both strategies at the same time.

“I think he’s going to take it state by state,” said Jesse Benton, the longtime Paul adviser who served as his father’s campaign manager in 2012 and is now running the presidential candidate’s super PAC. “In Iowa, you’ve got to reach out to evangelicals, and in New Hampshire, it’s more the Romney voters.”…

But granted anonymity to speak candidly on internal strategy, some in Paul’s orbit believe it’s unrealistic to count on the idea that significant numbers of Democratic people of color — religious or otherwise — will flock to the candidate’s economic message, especially in the primaries. Even winning conservative white evangelicals will be an uphill battle that may prove too costly in terms of time and resources, some believe.

“I worry about time getting squandered,” said one Republican strategist and former Paul adviser, who has remained close to the senator. He said that it will be difficult for Paul to compete for conservative Christian voters in a field that may well be packed with devout evangelical contenders, including Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, and Rick Perry. “I just think we’re never going to be the evangelical candidate,” the strategist said.

This is why Paul ultimately has very little chance of winning the nomination. Romney was able to get away with being the rubber band man in 2012, but only because he had an overwhelming money and organization advantage that Paul simply does not, and never will, have. But I’m still glad he’s in the race because I think it could open up some debate on issues on which the Republican party is completely united, like foreign military intervention and government surveillance.

On those issues, Paul is libertarian in the right sense of the word and he’s got such a track record of speaking out against them that he can’t possibly run to a position that would be safer in the primaries. The other candidates will attack him on it and I hope we will get to hear, for the first time, a Republican presidential candidate take and defend the anti-war and pro-privacy position on a national level. I think that’s valuable, even if the candidacy is ultimately a failure. And it will be.

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  • raven

    1. Rand Paul is wearing a human mask 0.1 mm thick. Underneath is a tentacled horror from beyond space and time who will eat your brain and crack your bones for the marrow.

    2. He’s also released his economic plan. It basically dismantles the USA.

    3. I suppose if the voters want, we will go the way of the old Soviet empire.

    After a decade or two of sharply falling birth rates and lifespans, and escalating alcohol and drug use, we will patch together something else. In a few generations, we might be back up to First World standards. Or we might not. If a Yugoslavia type civil war breaks out between the former US empire states, you could forget even that.

  • busterggi

    Paul is a typical situational libertarian – he’s against others having liberties if he doesn’t agree with them.

  • Chris J

    Why does Paul even want to be President? Apparently it isn’t because he has a strong vision for the US’s future if he’s having so much trouble choosing an identity. Or perhaps he recognizes that his vision is so noxious he couldn’t possibly be elected if he represented himself honestly.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    interviews with nearly a dozen insiders suggest that the Paul camp has yet to reach a consensus on which constituencies will comprise the “Rand Paul coalition.”…

    Lacking Christian Fundamentalism, he’s got the dogwhistles, but not the spite and spittle behind it. So I don’t know, either. What does Bircher – Jesus + Ayn Rand equal?

     

    Also,

     

    the Rand Paul coalition

    Dibs on band name!

     

    I hope we will get to hear, for the first time, a Republican presidential candidate take and defend the anti-war and pro-privacy position

    I hope you do, too. Perhaps someday that will happen. But Rand Paul wants to be president, you see.

  • raven

    Loonytarianism is like communism. Literally, not hyperbolically.

    It’s a quasi-religious ideology that promises a Utopia. While producing a hell on earth.

    It simply ignores human nature, history, and reality in favor of plausible sounding but wrong ideas.

    Every time it is tried, it fails. Right now Walker, Brownback, and Jindal are busy destroying Wisconsin, Kansas, and Louisiana. Meanwhile the blue states like California and Minnesota are doing OK.

  • raven

    Why Nations Fail – Amazon.com

    http://www.amazon.com › … › Political Science › Comparative Politics

    Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, …

    For fans of reality, we know what works. There are 210 experiments running i.e. countries. Some succeed, some fail.

    You need three things to succeed, determined empirically.

    1. Strong central government.

    2. Taxes, at least 10% of GDP.

    3. Rule of law. A level playing field. Humans naturally try to cheat the system with bribes, monopolies, oligarchies, and grabbing control of the government to divide the pie unevenly.

    Loonytarianism is basically what much of the Third World is, stagnant societies going nowhere, ruled by economic oligarchies.

    PS Krugman called it. “The enduring power of failed ideas.” They know Loonytarianism fails. They don’t care. It’s just an excuse for the oligarchies to get even richer.

  • JustaTech

    As a person in and who cares deeply about both science and public health, I cannot support any Libertarian or libertarian. A doctor who invented his own licensing board, who doesn’t think that people should have to vaccinate their children in order to take advantage of public schools, is at the very least not going to be helpful, and based on his budget proposals I’ve seen elsewhere, would be hugely detrimental to the whole country.

    So no, I don’t care how he chooses to play it, I won’t support him.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    I’m still glad he’s in the race because I think it could open up some debate on issues on which the Republican party is completely united, like foreign military intervention and government surveillance.

    On those issues, Paul is libertarian in the right sense of the word . . .

    The standard-issue libertarian position on foreign military interventions is a reality denying form of non-interventionism. What I’ve seen from Rand Paul is more in line with a combination of liberalism and paleo-conservatism like we still see from Pat Buchannan.

  • MyPetSlug

    I wouldn’t count Paul out. Who do you think will get the nomination? Carson is a lightweight, Cruz has too much of a history of saying batshit things, Walker doesn’t really have name recognition, Perry probably has too much baggage from his last run, and Santum I don’t think anyone can really get excited about. To me, it comes down to Bush and Paul.

    Despite his embrace of the religious right, he still has a perceived reputation as a “libertarian”, which I lot of people like. A lot of people also liked his father and he’ll get carryover votes from that. I also think he’s one of the better speakers and debaters out of the Republicans. I just can’t see anyone else’s path to victory, so I think it’s between him and Bush by default.

  • Michael Heath

    I hope we will get to hear, for the first time, a Republican presidential candidate take and defend the anti-war and pro-privacy position on a national level.

    Rand’s dad Ron Paul did an excellent job in the primary debates on this topic. His positions revealed he was well-read on prescient reports out of both the State Dept. and the CIA, reports that were ignored by his war-friendly party.

    Even after these two organizations’ warnings/predictions came true, Rep. Paul’s arguments were labeled by his opponents as nuts, especially Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. It was those two’s reaction, the supposed moderates, that helped push me out of the GOP in the mid-2000s (Sarah Palin was the final nail in that coffin.)

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    On one side, there are those in Rand world who argue his best bet is to unite his core base of libertarian activists with elements of the GOP establishment and traditional donor class. In the other camp are advisers who say conservative evangelicals — many of whom share the liberty movement’s growing sense that Republican elites and mainstream moderates hold them in contempt — are a more natural fit.

    Jesus Fucking Christ, how gullible do these people think we are? Anyone with a pair of eyes can tell those “factions” are natural allies, and always have been. Both support tax cuts for the rich, both mindlessly oppose ALL Federal laws that give anyone any real freedom from right-wing authoritarianism (including, but by no means limited to, the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Brown vs. Topeka BOE, Roe vs. Wade, etc.); both equate liberals with Hitler and Stalin; both hate US interference in the US with the same mindless passion; and both have exactly the same interpretation of the Constitution. Any “dispute” between these two “factions” is nothing but a puppet-show. Why do you think they’re both still firmly under the GOP umbrella?

    On those issues, Paul is libertarian in the right sense of the word and he’s got such a track record of speaking out against them that he can’t possibly run to a position that would be safer in the primaries.

    Yeah, Rand Paul was “speaking out” for libertarian values when he LIED ABOUT HOW EBOLA IS SPREAD DURING THE 2014 CAMPAIGN. Oh, and he wants to cut — or rather, gut — just about any Federal agency dealing with issues like diseases. You really think this despicable little charlatan is going to contribute anything good to anyone? He’s a well-known lying fearmongering demagogue, so NOTHING he says can be trusted.

    Rand Paul’s entire political career is nothing but a pantomime: he pretends to be a “maverick” within the Republican Party so people who question past Republican fiascoes won’t actually leave the party. And the Party allows him to pretend to oppose them because it suits their purposes, and because they know, and they know he knows, that he really doesn’t mean any of it.

    And when people like Ed act like Rand Paul is some sort of “breath of fresh air” or whatever, they become part of the pantomime — and thus part of the problem.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Rand’s dad Ron Paul did an excellent job in the primary debates on this topic. His positions revealed he was well-read on prescient reports out of both the State Dept. and the CIA, reports that were ignored by his war-friendly party.

    Then why did he stay firmly inside the war-friendly party the whole fucking time? If he’d really meant what he’d said, he would have bolted from the GOP in 2004 and urged his followers to vote Bush Jr. out. And given how close that election was, it would have made a difference, and the Democrats would have had no choice afterword but to listen to him. Ron Paul had his chance to put his (alleged) ideals into practice, and he chose to support the pro-war party instead. He’s no less a fraudulent sellout than his son.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    …so I think it’s between him and Bush by default.

    In that case, it’ll be Bush.

  • kenn

    A lot of people also liked his father and he’ll get carryover votes from that.

    His father didn’t win even one primary. He’s not popular. He won only 118 delegates in 2012, fourth behind Romney, Santorum and Gingrich. Also, too, there’s a reason Charles Pierce calls him “Crazy Uncle Liberty.” Google “the five minute rule.”

    I also think he’s one of the better speakers and debaters out of the Republicans

    He’s demonstrated over the last three days that he’s incredibly thin-skinned. When confronted with a question from a non-Fox News reporter that he doesn’t want to answer, he accuses the interviewer of “editorializing.” He even tried to Randsplain to the New York Times how journalism is done. You cannot win an election by alienating the media.

    Bush will be the nominee. Paul won’t come anywhere near challenging him, and neither will the rest of the occupants of the Krazy Klown Kar.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    You cannot win an election by alienating the media.

    A Republican can, if he’s alienating someone who asks questions Republicans don’t want to hear. The MSM’s mindless participation in the Rand-vs-Republicans pantomime proves they’re not going to be going off-script anytime soon.

  • Chiroptera

    Raging Bee, #12: Then why did he stay firmly inside the war-friendly party the whole fucking time?

    Yeah, that’s the important question. When given a choice between forming a workable coalition between either (1) the side that supports civil liberties but also advocates a strong social safety net and important health and safety and worker rights laws vs (2) the side the wants to cut taxes and deregulate business but also advocates for a strong national security state, the libertarian politicians almost always choose tax cuts over civil liberties.

    I keep hearing people talk about the exceptions to this, but every time people describe specific examples of these so-called “sensible libertarians,” their examples almost always sound more like liberals to me.

  • dingojack

    Rand Paul: Political Shape Shifter

    You mean — [Dun Dun DUNNN!!!] — a really a LIZERDMAN from the Earth’s core!

    😉 Dingo

  • blf

    …a LIZERDMAN from the Earth’s core!

    Nah, the Silurians aren’t stooopid.

  • felidae

    Randy little Randy wants to liberate us from intrusive government regulations like rules about food safety, water and air pollution, drug safety and the like but is in favor of regulations covering the use of our genitalia