Rand Paul’s Final Steps to GOP Nomination

Rand PaulLast year I wrote, Why Republicans Will Nominate Rand Paul in 2016. My point was not primarily that Rand Paul would actually win the Republican nomination. It was that Rand Paul would sell his libertarian soul to get the nomination. Even by the time he was elected to the Senate, he had massaged his libertarianism to be acceptable to the Republican base. My favorite contrast in this regard is with his father who was for full drug legalization. Meanwhile, Rand Paul even holds his nose while offering the most tepid support of cannabis legalization.

My prediction at that time, “So by this time next year, he will have massaged every position so that it still sounds libertarian, while still being full of conservative red meat for the base.” And then, just a month later, I wrote, Rand Paul Continues to “Evolve” His Ideology. It was about how Paul wanted to go to war with ISIS. As I noted, “I don’t see this as anything different from America’s favorite comedy duo, McCain & Graham.” Indeed, there is no difference. I think that there is no more disingenuous politician than Rand Paul. The only thing he really believes is that he should be President of the United States.

Well, there is news on Rand Paul’s evolution toward becoming the Perfect Republican™. On Thursday, Paul Waldman wrote, How Rand Paul Is Losing His Distinctiveness. This time, it is about how Paul is pushing to increase funding for the military. Let’s think about this for a moment, because it is absurd. The United States spends 48% of what the entire world spends on military. So that’s 48% for the US and 52% for the other 195 countries. Basically: the US spends as much on the military as every other country combined. And yet we cowardly Americans just don’t feel safe enough. It’s pathetic.

I don’t think for a minute that Rand Paul thinks that the military is being hurt by its cutbacks. He’s just continuing to do what he’s always done. But you have to wonder, since he doesn’t believe in anything but his right to power, why did he spend all this time pretending to be a libertarian? Part of it is what I discussed about him last year: most conservatives like to think of themselves as libertarians. In theory they are all libertarians. It is only when actual policy comes up that they decide that it is better to be able to tell people what to do.

My guess would be that there is a more personal reason why Rand Paul has pretended to be libertarian — or at least libertarianish. He needed the resources that his father’s presidential campaigns have created. Now he’s a top tier Republican and isn’t so reliant on them. Of course, this does not mean that the Ron Paul supporters will abandon him. And this goes back to what I’ve long said about real libertarians, and is even more true of the libertarianish folk in the Republican Party: it’s all about low taxes. So they won’t abandon him. And the kids who support Paul because they want legalized cannabis are going away regardless because that has become the Democratic Party position — which they get without all the conservative baggage.

Waldman noted that the Republican Party is built on four ideas: “low taxes, small government, ‘traditional’ social values, and a large military.” But he thinks this creates a dilemma for Paul. But it really doesn’t. For one thing, neither Paul nor the Republican Party are actually for small government. But that gets to how one can claim to be for small government even as they think that having 48% of the world’s military spending is just not enough. Republicans believe in certain types of spending. According to them, if we just got rid of stuff the government shouldn’t be doing (eg, healthcare, retirement), there would be plenty of money for tax cuts and increased military spending.

There is just one step that Rand Paul must take to become a big player for the Republican presidential nomination. He can’t just be for more military spending. Walking the walk is really not what Republican politics is all about. He has to be able to talk the talk. He needs to start screaming about all the threats that the United States faces. He can’t say, “I would go to Congress and ask to go to war with ISIS.” He must say, “I love America so much I would disregard the Constitution and just go to war with ISIS. And Iran! And North Korea!” He can’t just be in favor of permanent war; he has to clearly enjoy it. And I don’t think he’s going to have any problem taking this final step.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

6 thoughts on “Rand Paul’s Final Steps to GOP Nomination

  1. Back when “Politically Incorrect” was first on, it was in Washington, and had politicians/reporters as guests. (When it moved to LA, it lost some of that — but it did have more Al Franken, which was good.)

    I remember one episode with Arlen Specter and Cokie Roberts. Roberts asked Specter if every Senator has painted on their bathroom mirror the Presidential Seal. Specter laughed — uncomfortably.

    It’s a serious question! Because anyone even thinking of running for President is basically part lunatic. The most power Presidents have involves killing people. You can do some good things with executive order. Ultimately, though, Presidents do not have enormous power to enact useful laws — we’ve seen that with Obama. It’s hard to know which of his proposals he’s actually serious about, but you have to assume there are many things he would like passed, most of the country would like passed, that won’t be passed (like the free community-college idea, or help with child care expenses.)

    So anyone who says they’re running to advance cherished political goals is basically blithely lying. At least Democrats lie by promising things they would enact if they could (and know they can’t.) Republicans lie by promising things that are usually the exact opposite of what they intend to do. And Paul’s simply the best. He makes Frank Underwood look like Lincoln.

    FYI — Amazon now has a new service, “Amazon Smile,” that gives a teensy portion of its sales to charities (one can search for one’s favorite charities; there are some terrific ones like Democracy Now, along with the big, less helpful ones.) Any way you can double-dip on this, getting click pay for your site while linking to the charity-paying Amazon? Probably not; Amazon says they hope to spread “Smile” through word-of-mouth, not advertising, which sounds to me like they don’t want links to it (why pay the link and a charity both a few pennies, Bezos would end up begging in the streets.)

    What also makes me dubious is that it seems there is no way to access my AmazonSmile account from my regular Amazon account. So I can’t click through the link here and get to the Smile site. Of course, you can easily get from the Smile site back to your non-charity-paying account; that gets the company out of paying those pennies.

    Unless you can link to it, I’ll stick with getting to Amazon through here and giving DN money the old-fashioned way. If you could double-dip, that’d be terrific, but I’d be surprised if you can.

    • I’ve heard people argue before for Ron Paul: that at least he would cut back on the use of military. The problem I see with that is that the libertarian ideology is so naive, and I think that a libertarian becoming president would just go along because she had never seriously thought her ideology through. As for Rand, well, he’s a fraud. I know just what he’d do and he is already making that clear. Of course both of them would put horrible people on the Supreme Court. So they would both be a mess.

      I appreciate your buying things through Amazon here. This month, I’ve made a bit more than $10 off the Amazon links. This is the most I’ve ever made in a month. I’m hoping it is a trend. That amount each month would pay for the direct costs of registration and hosting. The Amazon donation thing reminds me of Slavoj Zizek’s First as Tragedy, Then as Farce. It’s basically the neoliberal approach to charity. And that’s true of the header at the top of this website. Most people who use the program push it as a form of charity — just check out any episode of Majority Report. I like the Amazon program, although I do think it soils everyone involved.

      • That is wonderful animation on the Zizek rant. I love Zizek. The documentary included on the “Children Of Men” DVD, in which Zizek features prominently, may be better than the movie itself, although much more sloppily filmed. I guess Cuaron was already looking ahead to making space effects really cool.

        Zizek’s accent is like Herzog’s; they can examine dark trends in world politics with the filter of those goofy accents. (Imagine Herzog’s death row film without his goofy accent; it would be unbearably sad.) You just can’t present reality to some people, and certainly not to most Americans, without the filter. As things get worse here we cling ever-tighter to myths and fables. Puncturing those myths means threatening the basic hanging-on-by-a-psychic-thread most Americans depend on; family, faith, country, none of which are inherently bad things. They are quite bad things when they harm you and you can’t allow yourself to question them or your mental bubble bursts.

        The other day I was on the bus next to a black woman, maybe 25 or so, talking about her abusive mother on her phone. “She gives love in the most hurtful way,” this woman said; “she deals out love and then changes to abuse, and that makes you try harder to get her love.”

        That was a brilliant summation of what abusive relationships are like; it’s one of the best I’ve ever heard. The woman sitting next to me was trying to find someplace to stay where she could get out of her mom’s toxic orbit. I hope she succeeded; it sounded like she was failing to find a different place to stay, and would end up back with her mom. (Had she ended the call and mentioned how stressful it was, I would have mentioned my family dynamic, but she didn’t and I don’t butt in.)

        We believe in the myths of family, faith, nation — they are myths. They do not always help us, and often they do us major wrong. To puncture these myths takes a different perspective; a voice with a goofy accent, a video with clever animation, an essayist with unusual wit (props!) Obama, I understand, has written large portions of his speeches, and his speeches are generally quite good; he’s probably the best speechifier since FDR. But those speeches are in restrained, “offend nobody” McProcessed tone. That was appropriate for, say, 1955. It’s useless now.

        I adored Zizek referencing “The Soul Of Man Under Socialism.” It’s one of my favorite essays. Oddly enough I had just referenced it in a long argument earlier this weekend. An old, conservative friend is angry that people are paying attention to cop crimes now that it’s obvious cops pick on black people; the friend doesn’t think we should be focusing on cops picking on black people, as cops occasionally pick on poor whites, and this friend just hates the idea that America is a racist nation (I’m sure you know the type; they mean well.)

        My response was straight from Wilde (and I referenced him!); if you dislike justified sufferers, get rid of unjust suffering. If Gandhi’s moral superiority strikes you as annoying — then fix the stuff he’s morally superior about. Seems simple to me.

        • Yes, I know the type. I used to be the type. It is easy when we are blind to our privilege to think that calling for a level playing field is just. But it isn’t. It’s like putting a naked skinny guy against a muscle-bound guy in full padding on a football field and saying, “Play ball! The field is flat!” But I think we are all capable of learning.

          I remember talking to a liberal friend of mine in graduate school. I was extolling the virtues of private roads. And he said more or less the following, “I think the system we have now works really well. We pay for roads with a gas tax and so everyone is automatically and painlessly charged for the roads roughly in accordance with their usage.” That may have been the beginning of the end of my libertarianism. I greatly admire well constructed systems and he totally sold me, although I said nothing at the time.

          I have a weird kind of relationship with Zizek’s work. I find him almost impossible to listen to. I don’t think it is his accent; I think he has a speech impediment. I do think he’s brilliant. And I like his writing. But I also feel like he is kind of intellectual empty calories. That isn’t really a slight. I have the same feeling about Roland Barthes. In both men, I don’t get a sense of a world view. But they are incredibly insightful about details. Maybe you can recommend a good book that I would find more compelling.

          • Nope, no book recs. That documentary on “Children of Men”‘s DVD, and this animation, was Zizek at his best I’ve seen. I tried watching a full-length movie with him deconstructing cinema and couldn’t finish it.

            But that’s fine, to say interesting things about how small details of our culture reveal larger unconscious preconceptions. Most people who are leaning towards being critical of our system will have felt similar things and enjoy hearing them voiced entertainingly/intelligently. In my experience that’s how you get “apolitical” people to come around, if not completely to my views, then at least to supporting Democrats. You find areas where they feel the official narrative is missing a few plot points and make your stab at filling those points in; you don’t start with your big philosophy, because liberalism has room for a lot of big philosophies in it and yours might not be the one for them.

            James Burke was the same sort of empty-calories brilliant guy, but he got me more interested in reading history for myself. I would read Chomsky, who always says you should check out original sources for yourself, and it intimidated me, because Dr. Noam is such a towering intellect. What Burke did, pointing out how A led to B to C, I thought I could try. And of course you can independently find connections in history that intrigue you, which is what Chomsky was saying all along.

  2. @JMF – I really think that if we could fuse Zizek and Chomsky together, we would have the perfect intellectual. You’re right: Zizek is fun. Chomsky has to be read because he is the most boring speaker ever. I’d rather listen to Harry Reid! You’re right: Burke is fun. And he’s good too. My biggest problem with most science documentaries is that I get so little out of them. That isn’t as true of Burke. I think Connections had a lot more meat than the reboot of Cosmos — even if Burke’s notions of science history are totally fanciful.

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