As campaign fever begins to hit politicians, pundits and political hopefuls, the Republican Party may have a significant contender in Kentucky Senator Rand Paul as the American people consider the 2016 presidential options. Just over the weekend, Paul led the field in a national poll conducted by CNN/ORC International, and won the straw poll during the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference. Senator Paul is one of the most highlighted 2016 hopefuls going into the presidential campaign season as he also cruised to victory in the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) straw poll, taking it by a landslide.
The 51-year-old junior senator has been on a winning streak, unlike his Republican colleagues. It is fairly clear that Paul is the current front runner for the Republican campaign for president. Neither Jeb Bush nor Ted Cruz have the zealous following enjoyed by Paul. Although he has only been a one-term senator, he has a few infrastructural advantages to further his bid for the presidency, some of them due to his father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
Ron Paul (R-TX) collected $35 million and $41 million for his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, respectively. Paul, the younger, will most likely be able to tap into the same Libertarian base and have at least a fundraising floor of $35 million. However, there is substantial evidence that he will not just settle for his father’s comfortable base of staunch Libertarians. For instance, Paul trekked to Atlanta in January, meeting and networking with establishment donor types that have donated to keep even the most senior lawmakers in office. This is just one event in a long list of more to come.
Possibly the quintessential reason why Paul should be seriously considered as the Republican frontrunner is that he wants to build the party. A house divided cannot stand; a party cannot govern during continuous internal power struggles that evaporate political capital, funds and good candidates. Paul understands that congressional conservatives have a necessity to reach out to Independents and moderate Democrats and all others who have negative views about the current state of the Republican Party.
“We need to welcome new members. We need more African-Americas members, more Hispanic members, more Jewish-American members, more Asian-American members,” said Senator Paul.
Paul explained to reporter Alexander Bolton in a previous interview that he does not “spend any time trying to criticize others in the party because I [Paul] realize[s] the party needs to be bigger, not smaller.” His ideas of branching out do not end with his rhetoric; he intends to follow through and practice what he preaches. Paul is scheduled to speak at The University of California at Berkeley, a university known for being much further left of the political bell curve than most to carry on his grassroots campaign.
But how can the Kentucky senator, with roots in Texas, guide more Americans toward the conservative way of thought? Libertarianism.
There is, undoubtedly, an expansion of libertarian values within the Republican Party, mainly among younger voters and millennials. Limiting overseas entanglements, relaxing laws pertaining to marijuana use and legalizing same-sex marriage are all ideas that encompass the greater minds of voters that identify with Libertarians. In a Pew Poll, six in 10 young Republicans between the age of 18 and 30 are in favor of same-sex marriage, according to their study.
Senator Paul is political positioned at the epicenter of this effort. With his current momentum on the political stage, he has the ability to mobilize libertarian-minded Republicans, possibly even moderate Democrats, to further his following and create a union of voters from which Republicans candidates at all levels can grasp.
Even though the presidential election is two years away, Paul has been working hard on the campaign trail, visiting different parts of the country to spread his libertarian-minded gospel to those who want change in Washington. Rand Paul is a new breed of Republican. Unlike his Republican colleague, the Patrick Henry-esque Ted Cruz (R-TX), he backs up his political preaching with movement in Congress. Furthermore, he is unlike the rank-and-file establishment Republicans such as John McCain (R-AZ) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who have left some party line voters disenfranchised.
It may not be the fact that Americans need to rethink the Republican Party. However, the Republican Party needs to rethink American voters and reevaluate their tactics by which they transmit their message. Paul is doing exactly that. As he continues his grassroots campaign to further his message, people will begin to find someone in the vast political scene that stands for their values and vows to help them better their life in the promised land. It is time to consider Rand Paul.
Editorial by Alex Lemieux