Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, continues to gain some serious traction for the 2016 presidential race, winning his second straw poll on Saturday. Paul took 31 percent of the vote in the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference held in New Hampshire, beating out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who only received 12.9 percent.
This second straw poll victory comes hot on the heels of Paul’s win at CPAC, where he delivered a rousing and passionate speech that seemed to kindle a spark in conservatives and libertarians across the country, who, to be frank, have started to feel jaded and cynical with the behavior of politicians in Washington. It seems that unlike many members of the Republican Party, Sen. Paul knows how to connect with people, and this fact continues to prove itself true by the support that he is getting not only from conservatives, but from unlikely sources like liberal comedian, Bill Maher.
When one thinks of Bill Maher, the last thing that comes to mind is vivid imagery of the talk show host riding a tandem bicycle and sharing an ice cream with anyone who claims to be a Republican, let alone a leading conservative presidential hopeful. Yet, Maher has come out and expressed his fondness for Paul, which is based primarily on his views on foreign policy. Sen. Paul, much like his father, libertarian superstar Ron Paul, holds mostly to a non-interventionist ideology, expressed most recently in his call that America not get involved in the crisis going on in Russia-Crimea. Maher remarked that he liked Paul because he didn’t want an American empire, and stated that the Kentucky Senator is the only one from the Republican Party that stands a chance against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
The fact that Rand Paul is showing strong gains in support and is starting to get serious traction for the 2016 presidential race should be a sign of hope for those holding to conservative or libertarian values. It signifies that the American people are finally starting to wake up, realizing that the problem is not about political parties. The rise of big government regulation has been going on for decades and is the result of Progressive ideology, which has infected both parties. It is no longer a Democrat problem. Republicans are just as much to blame for the economic damage and loss of civil liberties being experienced by Americans today.
People are not simply tuning into Rand Paul because of his father’s name, or because he’s an eloquent speaker who says all the right things. In fact, many of the statements he has made have alienated him from establishment Republicans. For example, Paul has stated recently that conservatives need to agree to disagree when it comes to social issues, as this is preventing them from connecting to younger voters. He has made it clear he is not a typical Republican, leaning much more to the libertarian side on a lot of social issues.
Paul has also been successful at gaining favor with voters both young and old, because he seems to actually believe in the policy stances he takes, rather than just giving lip service to the party platform. Sen. Paul has been an outspoken critic of the NSA for illegally spying and collecting data from American citizens without a Constitutionally valid warrant, and he put his money where his mouth is by boldly filing a lawsuit against the government for this encroachment of the Fourth Amendment. It is safe to say that Paul is trying to demonstrate that he is a man of action, not just words.
It has been a long time since the Republican Party has had a person gain so much attention from people on both sides of the political spectrum. With two straw poll victories, it seems likely that Paul is connecting with the voice of the people, as he is turning the Republican establishment on its head, which is something that has been sorely needed for many years. He is managing to unite conservatives, libertarians, liberals, and young people, which is a feat that seems Herculean in nature. As all eyes settle in on Rand Paul, the traction and trust he gains with constituents will be a strong indicator to Republicans that he is a serious contender for the 2016 presidential race.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell