Students were not the only ones who were captivated by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul as he delivered a memorable speech at Berkeley this week. It seems Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a member of the Democratic Party was captivated by Paul’s effect on the crowd, and sees him as a worthy foe in the battle for the White House come 2016. Newsom believes that the issue of privacy is the most critical issue facing Americans right now, especially young people. Newsom, a supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first run for president in 2008, is fully on board with a 2016 run, should Clinton decide to move forward on it, however, he feels strongly that Paul is a threat not to be dismissed.
Newsom said that the Democratic Party should be careful to pay attention to the strategy being used by Paul to win over the youth vote. This has always been sacred ground for liberals, as conservatives have traditionally been considered to be out of touch with young people, and have always struggled to connect with that particular demographic, something that Sen. Paul seems to be working to change. Libertarians believe that Paul’s success is largely due to his ability to walk the thin line between libertarianism and conservatism by making most of the social issues a matter of “state’s rights.” This enables him to advocate for extremely small, limited federal government without compromising on his socially conservative policy stances.
Sen. Paul’s strategy of creating a “bigger tent” Republican Party is what has the Democratic Party taking him more seriously as a worthy foe and challenger for the next presidential race. Newsom said that Paul is a straight shooter, someone who is intentionally building a plan to go into the heart of liberal territory and reach groups that have traditionally been supportive of democratic candidates, and this is why he poses such a threat.
In other words, Paul is doing something totally different, not only from Democrats, but from Republicans as well. He is actually seeking out young people and minorities, lending his ear, and paying attention to their concerns. While this type of behavior seems like it should be common sense, for politicians, it is just considered too much work.
Last year, Paul paid a visit to the Plymouth Community Renewal Center, in one of the worst neighborhoods in Kentucky, to get a feel for the type of issues that were affecting African-Americans firsthand. He was well received, learned a lot about the issues, and made an important connection the people of the neighborhood as a fellow American, not just as a politician. This is a strategy foreign to most conservatives in public office, who should start taking notes if they want to win the minority vote.
While Sen. Paul is building quite a following in a difficult to reach demographic, the Democratic Party is more than likely going to try to combat the strategy by painting the senator as a fake. Since he is connecting with so many people on common issues, while also seeking to avoid beating people over the head with his socially conservative views, the only defense liberals have left is to try to find ways to discredit him by making him seem two-faced. The strategy is basically to make this particularly jaded group of voters cynical of Paul’s intentions, as if he will flip on them once in office and become a typical Republican politician. It sounds, by the astonishment of those on the left, that the Democratic Party has finally met their match, a worthy foe for the battle of America’s future, in Rand Paul.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell