Alexander Engelsman ’18 – Inside Politics Program
Recently, the 2016 presidential field grew with Rand Paul declaring his bid for President in the upcoming election. With his recent announcement, the new question that everyone’s asking is, can Paul win? Rand has many supporters that make him the most mainstream fringe candidate we’ve seen in a long time. He appeals to many minorities in the Republican Party and is showing good polling numbers in some early and battleground states like Pennsylvania, Iowa, and New Hampshire.
But why vote for Rand Paul? Can a Libertarian from Kentucky really beat out Jeb Bush or Scott Walker for the nomination? How in the world would he overcome those obstacles, not to mention his own flaws? Rand has many different stances that completely set him apart from the field. An article posted by CNN outlines Paul’s main strategies and the differences between him and his father, Ron Paul.
First off, in order for Rand to succeed, he needs to distance himself from his father. While Ron laid the groundwork for the Libertarian movement, Rand has every intention of using his father’s network everywhere he goes. In order to successfully do so, Rand must break from the purist Libertarian ideas and come into the mainstream if he wants to make a serious run for the nomination. He is still making appeals to the Republican base and in doing so has placed himself between the Libertarian and Republican ideologies than his father. He and his father disagree mainly in foreign policy, with Rand using “intervention as a last resort” while his father is an all-out isolationist. Other than that, the two are still rather similar and work well together on other issues.
Rand’s main campaign is an appeal to the Tea Party movement that won him his Senate seat back in 2010. His big point during the campaign is that big government has been running away with the nation, and the “Washington Machine” has taken the American Dream from the people. With about forty percent of his money coming from small donations, a number normally unheard of, his campaign is solidly riding with the anti-government groups and grassroots campaigners. However, he has his own problems with the Tea Party groups. The Tea Party is famously and adamantly socially conservative, which is where the two have their breaking point – Rand is pro-marriage equality, and not as pro-life as some of the Tea Party supporters would like their candidate to be. Paul has openly stated that while he is personally against gay marriage, he believes it is not the government’s place to decide whom a person can or cannot marry.
However, Rand has certain popularity amongst other groups including minority voters in the Republican Party. Rand is incredibly popular among Black-American conservatives, young republicans, and Latino voters, even though these groups are predominantly liberal. And while those groups may normally be Liberal, Rand can put up a fight for them with anyone the Democrats nominate. Rand has broken from the normal conservative doctrine of defaming and blaming the protesters for the debates that arise and even went to Ferguson to discuss civil rights and liberties.
One problem that may be becoming prevalent with Rand’s campaign is that, in stark difference with his father’s three runs, Rand is trying to appeal to way too many people. While Ron focused on appealing to the Libertarian base, and simply offering people the invitation to add to it, Rand is desperately trying to get every demographic of voter he can on his side. From the Black-American vote to the Tea Party movement, two groups that are normally at odds, Rand is painting himself as a non-traditional candidate that is a man of the people who wants to change Washington for the better.
Overall, Rand Paul is looking to be a very serious contender for the Republican nomination for President. He has moderate bipartisan support, is liked by the base and fringe groups alike, and is different enough to get the nation interested in what he has to say. While we may be too far out from Iowa to begin making accurate predictions, Rand Paul looks like a candidate with a real shot at winning if the dice fall in his favor.