The Left Way of Nominating a President

I would like to make historical comparisons, if I can.  Some on the Left, make a generalized comment that the Democratic Party chooses the most conservative candidate for the Presidential nomination. I will start with the 1972 Presidential Primary and conclude with the 2008 Presidential primary.


In 1970, Maine Senator Edmund Muskie gave the message of the Democratic Party to Congressional voters before the mid-term elections.  In January of 1971, South Dakota Senator George McGovern announced his candidacy for the Presidential nomination, polling in 5th place among other Democratic hopefuls.  By August of 1971, Muskie was the heavy favorite to win, not only the Democratic nomination but to win the Presidential election.  In January 1972, McGovern was polling at 3% among Democratic voters.  In January 1972, Alabama Governor George Wallace announced his candidacy for the Presidential nomination.  Former Vice-President Hubert Humphrey announced his near perennial decision to run for President in 1972.  In March of 1972, former Governor of North Carolina announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination.  The Congressional Delegate for Washington, D.C., Walter Fauntroy, announced his candidacy and won the D.C. primary.  After a series of campaign attacks, Muskie ended up losing momentum and withdrew from the nomination before the convention.  George Wallace survived an assassination attempt in May of 1972, but was paralyzed from the waist down.  This effectively ended his campaign and he withdrew during the convention.  Humphrey was well-organized for the 1972 primary season, eventually winning many primaries.  He ultimately withdrew after a delegation fiasco at the convention. Sanford withdrew during the convention after finishing in 5th.  McGovern won the nomination.


Edmund Muskie: Muskie was the vice-presidential nominee for Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 election.  Muskie became the voice of the Democratic party by 1970.  He was also chosen to give remarks to the State of the Union address in 1972 and 1973.  Muskie was the heavy favorite to win the Democratic nomination.  But Richard Nixon and his “dirty tricks team” forged a letter alleging that Muskie insulted French Canadians and that his wife drank and swore.  Muskie made a big deal out of his defense for his wife.  He had melted snowflakes on his face that many people thought were tears.  He was accused of breaking down.  Even though Muskie won the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary, Muskie’s momentum was halted and he withdrew from the nomination.


Hubert Humphrey: Humphrey served as Vice-President from 1965-1969.  Humphrey was originally a skeptic of the Vietnam War.  But after President Lyndon Johnson gave him the cold shoulder for his criticism, Humphrey became a vocal supporter of the war.  Although Humphrey had major support from labor unions and other key Democratic allies, including civil rights activists, he was eventually troubled from his lack of support from college students and anti-war activists over his support for the Vietnam War.  Humphrey, who had the full faith and credit of the Democratic Party in 1968, tried to skip the primaries in 1972, ultimately failed, losing to George McGovern at the convention.

George Wallace: Wallace was the Governor of Alabama, who ran in 1970 for re-election as Governor, based on pretty racist advertisements including accusing blacks vowing to take Alabama.  Wallace did not support the Vietnam War.  Wallace’s 1968 election has been the platform for the Republican Party, since.  He argued against the federal government and busing laws.  Arguments, that more or less, carried over to today.  But in 1972, Wallace declared himself a Democrat and that he was a moderate on segregation.  Wallace was a great campaigner, but his assassination attempt ended his campaign.

Terry Sanford: Sanford, the former Governor of North Carolina, announced his candidacy to show that not all Southerners were in favor of segregation.  Sanford served as Governor of North Carolina, where he increased the state’s expenditures to public universities.  He oversaw the creation of North Carolina’s Community College System.  He raised taxes to help pay for the expenditure.  He also fought for desegregation in North Carolina.  He also was a vocal opponent of the death penalty.  Sanford did not fare well in the primaries.

George McGovern: McGovern, the Senator from South Dakota, was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War.  He had helped lead protests in 1968 after Humphrey won the nomination.  He announced his candidacy before anybody else, in January 1971.  McGovern was still polling below 5% by 1972.  McGovern ran with a grassroots level organization focusing on his anti-war policies.  McGovern won less primary votes than Hubert Humphrey but won, in part by a winner take all system in California.  McGovern’s campaign was focused on withdrawal of Vietnam, amnesty for draft dodgers,  and a 37% decrease in defense spending,  McGovern’s campaign at the end was attacked by the labor movement and Southern Democrats.

Conclusion: McGovern won over the party’s established candidates in Muskie and Humphrey.  By focusing on college students and appealing to the Left, McGovern won the nomination.  The favorites were both Muskie and Humphrey, they both lost.



There were no heavy favorites for the 1976 Democratic nomination, a record 23 people entered the race, but ultimately, it went to Jimmy Carter. In February of 1975, Henry Jackson, Senator from Washington, announced his candidacy.  He was considered the favorite when he ran for his candidacy.  Governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter announced his candidacy, as late as January of 1976, Carter was polling at 4% among Democratic voters.  After Carter announced his candidacy, Morris Udall, a Congressman from Arizona announced that he would be the liberal alternative to Carter.  Near the end of the campaign, Governor of California Jerry Brown announced that his campaign hoping to stall the conservative Carter’s campaign.


Henry Jackson: Jackson was considered a whore for defense spending.  He criticized President Dwight Eisenhower for not spending enough for defense spending.  He was considered the Senator from Boeing for his all talk about adding additional contracts to his state.  Jackson was one of the biggest supporters for the Civil Rights movement.  But because of his calls for defense spending and his support for the Vietnam War, Jackson’s campaign was initially attacked by the Left.  Jackson had raised his profile by speaking about the Middle East and U.S.-Soviet policy.  Jackson was also supported for his vocal support for Israel.  But because he never got off the ground for his support for Vietnam War and his lack of support from the labor movement, he ran out of money and ultimately dropped out of the campaign.

Jimmy Carter: Carter was not well-known nationally.  But because of the opposition to the Watergate scandal, Carter was able to target people because of his outsider status.  Carter won election as Governor of Georgia, in part because of a nasty racially charged campaign.  While he was Governor, he announced that segregation was over.  Carter merged hundreds of state agencies, as well.  He ran as a moderate in the South to George Wallace’s ideology.  While in the North, he looked Conservative.  Carter grabbed the early momentum by winning Iowa and New Hampshire. His early successes led the Left to find a new candidate to support.

Morris Udall: By the time Udall decided to run, Carter defeated his early challengers with a string of victories.  Udall announced his candidacy as the liberal alternative to Carter.  Udall was known in Congress for his environmental policies, Native American welfare, and commitment to campaign finance reform.  Udall, apparently, made witty speeches, which delighted a lot of his supporters.  Udall did not really emerge as a a formidable foe to Carter.  He was attacked as a racist in the Michigan primary.  He ultimately lost and did not get over the campaign as he endorsed Edward Kennedy’s run in 1980 against Carter.


Jerry Brown: Brown announced his candidacy even later, hoping to challenge the moderate Carter.  Brown was the Governor of California, at the time.  He was a fiscal conservative, championed environmental issues, and opposed the death penalty.  Brown was unable to stop Carter’s momentum, despite ultimate primary wins in Louisiana, New Jersey, California, and Nevada.

Conclusion: There was no clear establishment favorite after Edward Kennedy declined to run.  Jackson was the first favorite, but ultimately dropped out.  Carter was considered a conservative, at the time, but never really earned the support of the Party.  The Carter primary victory was vastly different than any since.



At the beginning of the campaign, vice-president and former Senator from Minnesota, Walter Mondale was the early favorite for the 1984 Democratic nomination.  Despite a primary win in New Hampshire by a moderate Senator from Colorado named Gary Hart, Mondale maintained his front-runner status.  Civil Rights Activist Jesse Jackson was regarded as a fringe candidate and finished in 3rd place, eventually winning 21% of the popular vote from the Democratic primary.  Former astronaut and Ohio Senator John Glenn also announced his candidacy, he was in 2nd place behind Mondale in early polling, but Glenn ultimately failed as a candidate.


John Glenn: Glenn was an astronaut and became a Senator in 1974.  Glenn was considered a choice for Carter’s vice-president nominee but his speech did not impress the Democratic Party.  In November of 1983, Glenn was polling a close second, trailing only Mondale.  Glenn decided to run for President as if he was voting for Senate.  He declined to cater to the interest groups, trying to appeal to everyday voters.  Glenn went deep in debt for his presidential campaign and failed to live up to his early billing.

Jesse Jackson: Jackson was more or less considered a fringe candidate.  He managed to win three to five primaries.  He won more votes in Virginia than any other candidate, but Mondale won more delegates.  Jackson’s campaign was doomed by his anti-Semitic remarks referring to New York City as Hymietown.  He also refused to disassociate himself from Louis Farrakhan.  He also was a supporter of the Palestine state.  Jackson was also critical of Mondale, saying that the last relevant politician from Minneapolis was Hubert Humphrey.


Gary Hart: Hart, Senator from Colorado, started out behind many contenders as someone who was not well known within the Democratic Party.  He began his campaign in New Hampshire earlier than most.  By late 1983, Hart was ahead of the middling contenders and polled in the middle of the pack.  Although, he lost the Iowa caucus, he came back and won the New Hampshire primary.  Hart was a moderate Democrat, who people thought represented the future of the party.  Because he was more independent, his ideas were different than many of the contenders in the Democratic primary.  Mondale jumped on this by claiming that Hart’s ideas were not substantial enough.  Ultimately, Hart lost to Mondale in the Democratic convention.

Walter Mondale: Mondale, by virtue of being Vice-President from 1977-1981 and running in 1980, was the clear front-runner in the 1984 election.  Mondale was a typical liberal Democratic presidential candidate who eventually campaigned against Ronald Reagan by supporting the Equal Rights Amendment, a nuclear freeze, and against Reagan’s economic policies.  His liberal attitudes helped him clinch the Democratic nomination but ultimately failed him in the general election.

Conclusion: Mondale was the most liberal candidate in the field.  He was also the front-runner throughout the entire election.  Some credit his lopsided defeat in the general election as the reason to shift to more moderate candidates from the Democratic party.



After the fairly strong showing in the 1984 presidential primaries, Gary Hart was considered the front-runner for the 1988 nomination.  But in 1987, news broke that Hart had an extra-marital affair.  Hart suspended his campaign and it became a free-for-all for the nomination.  Representative Dick Gephardt initially seized some of the momentum in Iowa by highlighting what he thought was unfair trade practices by Japan and South Korea.  Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis portrayed Gephardt as a flip-flopper in commercials.  Gephardt finished second to Dukakis in New Hampshire but his flop-flopping advertisements doomed Gephardt by Super Tuesday.  In early 1988, Jesse Jackson gained momentum by winning in Michigan.  But that was short-lived, as Dukakis won the Colorado primary and Wisconsin primary in back to back days. Senator Al Gore ran, as well, trying to capture the momentum on Super Tuesday as being the only Southern candidate, when 12 states would hold their primaries.  But he failed to account for Jackson, as Jackson and Gore split the Southern votes.  Dukakis did not focus on the Southern states and was able to win the majority of the primaries.



Dick Gephardt: Rep. Gephardt ran for President from his position representing Missouri, the 3rd District.  Gephardt, initially was dependent on labor and union spending as he decided to run.  He, initially, was critical of the decision in Roe v. Wade but later decided that he no longer supports restrictions on abortion rights.  He, also, initially voted in favor of Reagan’s tax cuts before being against them. He supported universal health coverage, fair trade, and progressive taxation.  He was able to capitalize on this spending by running advertisements that included highlighting unfair trade from Japan and Korea.  But after Jesse Jackson’s strong showing in Michigan, many unions and those in the labor movement switched support to Jesse Jackson, Gephardt ran out of money and steam.  Despite his strong showing early, he was out by Super Tuesday.

Al Gore: Gore, initially was a long-shot for the nomination.  But because of his youthfulness and his centrist policies, Gore seemed to be a match made in television heaven.  Gore was a Southern Democrat who opposed federal funding for abortion, supported prayer in school, and voted against banning interstate sales of handguns.  Gore was compared, somewhat favorably, to John F. Kennedy.  But Gore did not foresee Jackson splitting the Southern vote with him on Super Tuesday.  Gore was also criticized for some of the supporting words given by New York City Mayor Ed Koch in defense of Israel.  Many of these views cast others in  negative light and Gore was perceived as being too negative, he soon dropped out of the race.

Jesse Jackson: Initially considered a long shot due to his race and his kind of strange showing in the 1984 Presidential nomination process, Jackson showed to be a formidable foe by giving a rousing speech to the United AutoWorkers in Detroit.  Jackson picked up a lot of support in the union heavy Michigan.  After, he won the state, Jackson was considered the front-runner.  Jackson was considered to be a very liberal candidate supporting a variety of views that were not even on the Democratic party platform.  He was a supporter of single payer health care, going away from mandatory minimum sentences, reviving many of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies for farmers, providing free community college for all, among others.  Jackson was doomed, in part, because of the criminal activity of his half-brother.  Jackson, also, did not have the support from white voters.

Michael Dukakis: The Governor of Massachusetts at the time, Dukakis merely outspent the rest of his opponents to eventually win the nomination.  It really wasn’t that impressive of a victory.  This seems similar to Mitt Romney in 2012.  Dukakis ate up his competitors by outspending them and appealing to white voters.  By not focusing on the South, Dukakis was able to win other stats while Gore split the South with Jackson.


Conclusion: This election was very strange.  Dukakis was able to pick apart his opponents by using their weaknesses against them.  By focusing on flip-flopping with Gephardt, appealing to white voters to defeat Jackson, and to show that Gore was not liberal enough, Dukakis was able to secure the nomination.  This one had three lead changes for the nomination and the heavy favorite before the election did not even end up running.



As the Iowa caucus came about Iowa Senator Tom Harkin won handily but less than one month later, Harkin was out of the race.  Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, who was painting himself as a New Democrat, was a relative unknown.  A woman came forward claiming an affair with Clinton, but he re-branded himself as the comeback kid.  He finished in second place behind Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas in New Hampshire.  California Governor Jerry Brown won in Maine delaying the momentum of Tsongas.  Clinton began to take the momentum away from Tsongas and Brown, finishing in 2nd place in Arizona before beginning to win states of his own.  Tsongas hoped to push Brown out of the race by Illinois but Brown managed to stick around coming in 3rd place.  A week later, Brown won Connecticut sealing the fate for Tsongas.  Clinton won the vast majority of states after Connecticut.  Brown lost New York after being ahead for awhile.  That was the end for Brown.  Clinton was able to secure the nomination.


Tom Harkin: The Iowa Senator was considered the early favorite for the Democratic nomination.  He had strong support with the labor movement and began his run as a populist.  But he was not well suited for a national campaign.  Poor showings at other primaries doomed Harkin.  He threw his support behind Bill Clinton, early on, and later campaigned for him.

Paul Tsongas: Tsongas ignored the Iowa caucus and decided to focus on the New Hampshire primary.  He began the campaign focusing on his independence and fiscal conservatism.  He decided against campaigning on a tax cut like many other candidates. He was viewed as a social liberal and an economic moderate.  While in Congress, he focused on environmental conservation  and pro-business economic policies.  He was critical of the Democratic party for focusing on wealth redistribution when he thought they should be focusing on the federal deficit.  Tsongas, after his New Hampshire primary win, picked up several other primaries but was unable to match Clinton for fundraising.  His biggest chance was to force Jerry Brown from the race, which he was unable to do.  He was briefly considered the front-runner but Bill Clinton’s popularity and narrative as the comeback kid, placed him as the favorite for the majority of the race.


Jerry Brown: The former Governor of California was considered to be the most left candidate and the candidate who was the most right.  He campaigned by only accepting individual donations.  He also campaigned on populist ideals, calling for Congressional term limits.  But at different points, he campaigned for a flat tax, the abolition of the Department of Education, opposition to NAFTA, and support for living-wage laws.  Brown’s campaign was interesting, not spending for commercials but hosting talk and radio shows.  What allowed him to be a serious contender to Clinton was a narrow victory in Connecticut.  What doomed him was his in the New York primary, he told many Democratic leaders in New York City that he was considering Jesse Jackson as his Vice-President.  Because of his anti-Semitic remarks earlier, Jackson was still a hated figure in New York City.  Brown was unable to win New York.  Ultimately, Brown came in 2nd place overall.

Bill Clinton: Clinton gave a very long speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention that was poorly delivered.  He should have played the saxophone.  But Clinton was an unknown in Iowa for the nomination, finishing a distant third.  While campaigning in New Hampshire, accusations of an extramarital affair was surfacing.  Clinton went on 60 Minutes with Hillary Rodham Clinton fighting the charge.  Clinton was able to convince enough voters to give him some love.  He finished within single digits of Tsongas in New Hampshire.  This was considered a major victory for Clinton’s campaign because he was not expected to do this well.  Clinton secured most of the South on Super Tuesday but he had failed to win a state outside of the South.  Because of Jerry Brown’s mistake in New York, Clinton was able to win New York which gave him credence that he wasn’t a regional candidate.  Clinton later became the nominee.

Conclusion: The original favorite bowed out early.  Clinton became the favorite by New Hampshire but there were still many questions about his ability to win outside of the South fairly late.  While Brown was never considered a favorite, he gave Clinton a challenge.  As for who was most Conservative and most Liberal?  Clinton was thought to be the leader of the New Democratic Party where it was going to win the middle of America.  Brown was considered the most Conservative and most Liberal candidate.  Tsongas is certainly not a Liberal.  Harkin was the closest to a Liberal in the campaign.  But, yikes. There was not a true Liberal in the Mondale mold.



Vice-President Al Gore was considered the favorite to run for the presidential nomination, as early as 1997.  Meanwhile, New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley formed an exploratory campaign to run for President in 1998.  Bradley was the only candidate to challenge Gore.  He trailed Gore in every poll and every primary.


Bill Bradley: Bradley campaigned as the liberal alternative to Vice-President Al Gore.  He campaigned on universal health care, gun control, and campaign finance reform.  Bradley also advocated for expanding the minimum wage, the Earned Income Tax Credit, expand Head Start, and expand welfare.  He stated that the best tax system would be low rates and no loopholes.  Bradley did not lead in any poll and he lost every primary.

Al Gore: After basically 12 years in the national spotlight, either running for President or being Vice-President, Gore was the Democratic Party’s favorite to win the nomination.  Gore ran to the middle throughout the campaign and distanced himself from Bill Clinton.  Gore was offensive with Bradley during their debates, but thanks to access to the party’s credit card, Gore was able to win the nomination, easily.

Conclusion: If you’re arguing for Hillary Clinton to be the nominee, Al Gore is basically your comparison.  Gore was much more conservative than Bradley and was considered the favorite three years before election.  If this is the nomination process in 2016, I fear for the 2016 Democratic nomination.  As we’ve seen for a number of primaries the favorite failed to secure the nomination, but in 2000, this was remarkably changed.




In May of 2002, Vermont Governor Howard Dean announced he would form an exploratory committee to run for President.  Massachusetts Senator John Kerry announced in December of 2002 that he, too, would form a committee.  North Carolina John Edwards also announced his intention to form a committee.  In April of 2004, fundraising totals for the first quarter of 2003 were announced showing Edwards in the lead, followed by Kerry.  Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman were ahead of Howard Dean but they were still over $4 million behind Kerry and Edwards.  Dean showed the first advertisement of the campaign.  A liberal website, MoveOn held a nonbinding Democratic primary for financial support and the website’s endorsement.  Dean came in first, followed by Dennis Kucinich, and Kerry.  By July of 2003, the second quarter fundraising numbers were in and Dean was now able to raise more money than anyone else.  Kerry came in second.  Edwards tied with Lieberman, in third place.  In fall of 2003, Dean was considered the favorite, performing strongly in polls.  Although he was a pragmatic centrist as Governor, in the mold of Bill Clinton, he denounced George W. Bush’s policies, in addition to, Democrats who did not oppose them, enough.  Dean was referred to as a Rockefeller Republican, socially liberal and fiscally conservative.  Despite being a heavy favorite, Dean focused on negative advertisements in Iowa.  After the results of Iowa were counted, Kerry finished in 1st, Edwards in 2nd, and Dean in 3rd.  Dean downplayed the result but Kerry was able to win New Hampshire, as well.  Edwards regained momentum by focusing on positive ads.  Kerry was able to maintain his lead throughout the process and secured the nomination.



Howard Dean: Dean has become a favorite of liberals on the internet who think that Dean represented the only liberal response in 2004.  They forget the criticism of Ralph Nader and others that called him a Rockefeller Republican.  Dean opposed the Iraq War and the Bush tax cuts and drew on the internet for grassroots activism and campaign funding.  This was in the mold of Jerry Brown asking for individual donations for his presidential campaign.  Dean was a longshot candidate to begin with, but because of his early announcement, as we’ve seen, he was able to gain early support.

John Edwards: Edwards was a one-term Senator from North Carolina.  He was the second or third place finisher in almost every primary.  Looking at the fundraising numbers, Edwards was the favorite to win the nomination.  By virtue of staying in the race longer than others, he was able to secure a number of delegates.  He also focused on positive advertisements.  He refused to attack John Kerry.

John Kerry: Despite not being the party favorite or party activists’ favorite, Kerry won nearly every primary or caucus.  You know he’s pretty much the favorite, when they say that the Iowa caucus revitalized his sagging campaign.  It’s the first caucus.  Whatever.

Conclusion: Edwards was initially the favorite if you look at fundraising.  Due to the internet and progressives, more or less seeing the same blogs and websites, Dean was the favorite.  But when it came to voting, there was no doubt, Kerry was the favorite, throughout.  Dean was considered by some to be the most liberal and that’s certainly the popular narrative now.  But that could simply be political posturing.  Edwards was often the one who was characterized as being the populist.  But we know how narratives can be invented years after the fact.




This was the first presidential election I remember paying close attention to. I watched the Democratic Presidential debates and also one of my friends and I volunteered for John Edwards’s campaign.  With respect to the other candidates, the choices were between Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards.  Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton emerged as the early two favorites in terms of fundraising.  Clinton was the favorite, according to an assortment of polls. In September 2007, she was leading the first six states that would hold primaries and caucuses. After multiple third place finishes, Edwards dropped out of the race.  Barack Obama won the early momentum by winning Iowa after Hillary Clinton declined to show up.  Obama campaigned largely on hope and change.  The Iowa caucus announced his presence to those who had been ignoring politics.  After the Iowa caucus, Obama began to look a little bit better in polls, showing him leading in New Hampshire.  Clinton narrowly won New Hampshire.  She stumbled after New Hampshire, implicitly making a racial remark about Obama.  Bill Clinton later compared Barack Obama’s primary victories to Jesse Jackson’s victories in 1988.  Obama surged on Super Tuesday after a one on one debate with Hillary Clinton.  The idea among Democratic voters and progressives was that Obama would be more liberal than Clinton.

Overall conclusion:

The favorite for the Democratic primary won in 1984 and 2000.

The most “moderate” candidate won in 1976 and 2000.

There is not strong historical evidence for the claim that the Democratic party would nominate the most moderate candidate.  Nor is there strong evidence for the favorite before the primary season to win the Democratic nomination.

Rewrapping the same policies: Rand Paul, Paulism, Libertarianism and the Republican Party

Note: This piece was originally written in September of 2014.  Senator Rand Paul has since announced his candidacy for Presidency and suspended his campaign.

At this point, it seems inevitable that Rand Paul will run for President in 2016.  The media infatuation with the junior Senator from Kentucky and his “libertarian” philosophy has only grown in the last few months, even from sources that are nominally called the liberal media by conservatives, including the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, even the New York Times ran an article about how libertarian philosophies were the latest political craze sweeping the nation.  These articles seem to leave many things out; the criticism of both libertarian philosophies and Rand Paul seem to be held to a minimum.  This piece will be how libertarian philosophies connect to voters, focus on Rand Paul’s tenure as Senator, and why there is such an infatuation with the younger Paul.

Defining libertarianism and defining “Paulism”

The Libertarian Party of the United States argues that they seek a world of liberty, in which all individuals are “sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.”  They go on to clarify that “all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.”

Because of these beliefs, Libertarians should have control of their own bodies making them very “liberal” on their views of prostitution, drug use, and gambling.  Additionally, they believe that there should not be government censorship or government established, or favored, religion.  For the most part, libertarians believe that those who identify as LGBT should be treated as equals and that “consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.”  Likewise, they believe that abortion decisions should be left to the individual.  Laws establishing crimes without victims should not be considered crimes according to their beliefs.  Libertarians are slavishly devoted to the free market and adherent to the policies established by the free market.  Finally, their beliefs would entail an isolationist foreign policy with the military only being built to defend against an attack on U.S. soil.  There is a book published by the Ayn Rand Institute making a hawkish libertarian argument, which admittedly I have not read.

Here is where we should probably differentiate what we mean by libertarianism and the policy preferences of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party.  The libertarianism that is espoused by the Pauls and other members of the libertarian wing, for the most part, is traditional libertarianism combined with the beliefs of the religious right.  We saw above, that for the most part, libertarianism entails fiscally conservative policies with socially liberal policies.  Those within the Republican ranks who espouse libertarian beliefs almost always hold conservative views on abortion, LGBT issues, etc.  The main difference is that the libertarian wing of the Republican Party wants to decriminalize marijuana.  Jokingly on the internet, it has become common to refer to libertarians as Republicans who like to smoke pot.  The Paul’s are no different, we’ll see Rand’s views below, but Ron was strong pro-life, voted initially against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, among other issues.  The furthest libertarian many of them will go on LGBT issues is to say that the states should decide on how to define/handle the issue.  This combination of libertarianism and the views of the religious right has become what I refer to as Paulism.

The popularity of Paulism

The biggest strength in the public opinion of voters is the idea of a smaller government.  This opinion has become prevalent and has been the central plank of both political parties.  Both political parties have campaigned on the idea of cutting spending for government programs that their respective party disagrees with.  According to a CBS News Poll released on August 5, 2014, 56% of adults nationwide would rather have a smaller government providing fewer services compared to 35% of adults who believe the government should be bigger and provide more services.  This is fairly consistent with what we see in the polling results.  A CNN poll released on October 20, 2013 found that 60% of adults nationwide believe that the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses.  35% believe the government should do more.  A Gallup poll released on September 9, 2013 found that 53% of adults nationwide answered that the government is trying to do too much compared to 40% who believe the government should do more.  The Gallup Poll has been asked going back since 2008 with the same basic results.  Clearly, Americans want to rein in the federal government.

If we attribute libertarianism/Paulism with a slavish devotion to the free market and business, we can see another great strength of libertarianism.  61% of Americans had a positive image of capitalism according to a January 27, 2010 Gallup poll.  In that same poll, 86% of Americans reported having a positive image of free enterprise (I’m guessing because the word free is in there).   Entrepreneurs were seen as having a positive image with 84% of Americans.  If you were wondering why politicians drone on and on about small business it might be that 95% of Americans have a positive image of small business.  You may want to take that poll with a grain of salt as it was about 11 months before the TEA Party wave of 2010.  Even if you regress the poll results downward, you see that Americans have a very positive image of businesses, capitalism, and the free market.

Rand Paul’s primary/campaign

In 2010, Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning decided to retire rather than to seek re-election.  Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson was the initial favorite, as Paul was a little known ophthalmologist who was giving speeches around the state.  Paul was able to raise nearly half a million dollars on August 20, 2009.  He quickly capitalized on his outsider status and small government rhetoric.  He painted Grayson as a career politician and a liar.  Grayson countered that Paul opposed the PATRIOT Act, supported the closing of Guantanamo Bay, and that the foreign policy decisions prior to September 11, 2001 were partially to blame for the attacks. Paul accused Grayson of lying and accused Grayson of displaying a shameful tactic.   This would remain a useful tactic for Paul throughout his political career.

Paul initially supported the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison facility.  Early in his campaign for Senate, he reversed that position and probably because of campaign advertisements attacking this position eventually supported closing Guantanamo.  He stated, “foreign terrorists do not deserve the protections of our Constitution…these thugs should stand before military tribunals and be kept off American soil.  I will always fight to keep Kentucky safe and that starts with cracking down on our enemies.

The popular ad hoc narrative around Rand’s campaign and TEA Party groups in general has been that the traditional polling firms underrated their candidates.  This narrative is false.  While Grayson was the early favorite leading Paul in early polls by about 10 points in August and September, by November Paul had barely taken the lead according to a Survey USA poll.  By Christmastime 2009, Paul now had a commanding lead over Grayson by nearly 20 points, according to Public Policy Polling.  Paul never relinquished this lead.  On May 18, 2010, Paul won the Republican nomination by 23 points.

In Kentucky, minor parties and independents are required to collect 5,000 signatures before getting their potential candidate on the ballot.  By filing deadline on August 10, 2010, no minor party or independent candidates filed.  This fits into the quite convenient narrative that Paul is a Libertarian and no Libertarian candidate would file out of deference to Paul.  Again, we see the narrative fall short.  The Kentucky Libertarian Party issued a press release stating that Paul was not a Libertarian.  In that press release, they expanded on the title by providing concrete examples of where Paul differs from the Libertarian Party.  The Libertarian Party “want[s] a complete repeal of the PATRIOT Act, closure of Guantanamo Bay, and an end to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”  Paul campaigned on keeping Guantanamo Bay and the Libertarian Party stated Paul “denied that he seeks to overturn the PATRIOT Act.”  The Libertarian Party of Kentucky was also critical of Paul for supporting the “discriminatory ‘one man, one woman’ definition of marriage” and not supporting civil unions.  Finally, Paul agreed with a law that outlawed adoption by anyone not living in a traditional, legally recognized, marriage.  This was, again, at odds with the Libertarian Party of Kentucky and most Libertarians.

While running for Senate in 2010, there was some debate about a mosque that was potentially going to be built two blocks from Ground Zero.  Paul stated that he did not support a mosque being built two blocks from Ground Zero.  He went on to say, “in my opinion, the Muslim community would better serve the healing process by making a donation to the memorial fund for the victims of September 11th. “

Perhaps his most famous incident while campaigning was an interview where he stated that he would have tried to modify the Civil Rights Act to get rid of the title that would ban segregation at private institutions.  It became the focus of his campaign and set up tension for after he was elected.  Paul repeatedly stated that he was not a racist and that he abhorred racism but he did not want to limit the free speech of private businesses.  In an interview with Rachel Maddow, he stated that businesses that practiced segregation were practicing bad business.    After the ensuing questioning of such a policy, Paul stated that he would not support repealing the Civil Rights Act.  On May 20, 2010 after Paul won the primary, he made an announcement to clear up the confusion of whether he supports the Civil Rights Act.  He stated “I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act.”  In his statement, he criticized the liberal establishment because they are “desperate to keep leaders like [Paul] out of office, and we are sure to hear more wild, dishonest smears during this campaign.”

His opponent in the 2010 Senate race was Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway.  Conway was considered the slight favorite in early polling leading by about 4 points according to polls by SurveyUSA and Rasmussen released in August-November of 2009.  By December of 2009, Paul had taken a 6 point lead, according to Public Policy Polling.  In virtually every poll after December of 2009, Paul led Conway, peaking at 25 point lead according to Rasmussen in May of 2010.  At the time, there was some talk that Conway could upset Rand in the general election.  Perhaps because of that, a lot of money was spent on the campaign.  Paul raised nearly $8 million compared to Conway’s nearly $6 million.

Aqua Buddha

There were five debates between Conway and Paul.  One debate, in particular, was nasty between the two candidates.  The debate was on October 18, 2010.  Conway brought up stories about Paul that circulated about the latter’s college years at Baylor University.  Senator Paul was a member of the NoZe Brotherhood that was banned at Baylor University for mocking Christianity.  Allegedly, Rand and a friend led a female student to a creek, tied her up and made her worship “Aqua Buddha.”  Paul was furious and said to Conway, “don’t make up stuff about me from college that you think you’ve read on the Internet blogs.  Grow up.”  The report in question was in the Lexington Herald-Leader among other news outlets.

Going further, Paul said, “Jack, you should be ashamed of yourself.  Have you no decency?  Have you no shame?”

Conway replied, “Values matter. Why did he freely join a group known for mocking or making fun of people of faith?  And secondly, when is it ever a good idea to tie up a woman and ask her to kneel before a false idol called Aqua Buddha?”  Instead of answering the questions, apologizing for the incident, denying the incident took place, or pivot to anything else, Paul attacked Conway.

“You know how we know you’re lying?  Your lips are moving.  You’re accusing me of crimes.  Do you know nothing about the process?  You’re going to stand there and accuse me of a crime from 30 years ago from some anonymous source?  How ridiculous are you?  You embarrass this race.  You really have no shame, have you?”  Paul responded.   It’s shameful to criticize Rand.

Paul criticized Conway for not joining many other states for suing the Obama administration over the constitutionality of Obamacare.  Paul argued that there were constitutional problems with the individual mandate and other portions of the law.  This was before the Supreme Court would rule that the mandate was, in fact, constitutional.  Conway said,”[I’m] always amused to get a lecture in constitutional law from a self certified ophthalmologist.”  Conway went further saying that there was no constitutional question when it came to Obamacare.

According to the polling results, people seemed to have liked Paul more after the debate.  A poll conducted by Rasmussen on October 18 showed Paul leading 47-42.  Rasmussen conducted another poll on October 23 and found Paul leading by 7 points, 50-43.  Conway’s chances of winning the election substantially declined.  The final poll conducted by Public Policy Polling on October 30 showed Paul leading by 15 points, 55-40.  The final election results showed Paul had won, 55-44.

Rand Paul’s early tenure

The media and Rand did not always have such a great relationship.  Shortly after his re-election, when he was questioned about his stance on the Civil Rights Act, Paul asked when his victory lap would begin.  He refused to go on the show “Meet the Press” if they were going to ask him about his stance on the Civil Rights Act.  He would later accuse the media of misconstruing his position.  This was a tactic he would learn how to use well.

One of his first acts during his Senate tenure was to help produce a bill that would be known as the Birthright Citizenship Act with Senator David Vitter (R-LA).  Currently, children born in the United States are considered United States citizens, regardless of the citizenship status of their parents.  The legislation introduced by Paul and Vitter would amend the Constitution so that the child can gain citizenship only if, at least one parent is a legal citizen, legal immigrant, active member of the Armed Forces, or a naturalized legal citizen.  When a child is born, the parents of the child would have to prove their citizenship status.   While introducing the legislation, Senator Paul maintained that “citizenship is a privilege, and only those who respect our immigration laws should be able to enjoy its benefits.”  Going further, Senator Paul argued that this legislation would make it that “everyone follow the rules, and goes through the same process to become a U.S. citizen.”

Shortly after being elected to the Senate, Senator Paul challenged Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid on the re-authorization of the PATRIOT Act.  He called the law an “unconstitutional infringement on civil liberties.”  He tried to insert a series of amendments to weaken the law.  The first would limit suspicious activity reporting requirements to requests from law enforcement agencies and the other would exempt certain gun records from being searched under the PATRIOT Act.

In May of 2011, he went on Sean Hannity’s radio show to discuss racial profiling in airports.  On the show, Paul said, “I’m not for profiling people on the color of their skin, or on their religion, but I would take into account where they’ve been traveling and perhaps, you might have to indirectly take into account whether or not they’ve been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders.  It wouldn’t be that they’re Islamic.  But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after –they should be deported or put in prison.”  Luckily, the TEA Party did not hold any such rallies and did not make statements that they needed to water the tree of liberty (with the blood of tyrants) and to take the country back.  At least he doesn’t support racial profiling.  Well, except, he sort of is for racial profiling.  From the same radio show, “I do want them going after, for example, let’s say we have a 100,000 exchange students from the Middle East – I want to know where they are, how long they’ve been here, if they’ve overstayed their welcome, whether they’re in school.”

On November 29, 2011, Senator Paul made a floor speech in the U.S. Senate titled “Preserving Constitutional Liberties.”  In the speech, he stated that we should not detain citizens without a court trial.  In addition, he called for the government to prosecute terrorists in domestic courts and end indefinite detention.  Just a little over a year earlier to that, he stated that he was not in favor of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.  Senator Paul stated he is “simply arguing that people, particularly American citizens in the United States, not be sent to a foreign prison without due process.”  Paul’s nativist stance on how America should deal with terrorists was also something he would continue.

Ending foreign aid

Senator Paul published a budget for fiscal year 2012 that he is still trying to back away from, today.  The budget was radical for many of its notions.  The portion of the budget that got most of the attention was his proposal to end all foreign aid, including foreign aid to Israel.   In the budget plan, he wrote, “while this budget proposal does eliminate foreign aid to Israel, it is not meant to hurt, negate, or single out one of America’s most important allies.  This proposal eliminates all foreign aid to all countries.  Israel’s ability to conduct foreign policy, regain economic dominance, and support itself without the heavy hand of U.S. interests and polices, will only strengthen the Israeli community.”  He gave several interviews, including one with Wolf Blizter, Jonathan Karl, and Dave Weigel saying that he cut the foreign aid to Israel and all foreign aid.   In his interview with Dave Weigel, Paul was upset with people reading his budget proposal saying, “people emphasize too much the cuts to one particular country.  We had $500 billion of cuts.  The cuts to that one particular country were three-fifths of 1 percent of it.”  Left unsaid by Senator Paul is that cutting all foreign aid would represent about 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget.  In 2009, the United States spent $44.9 billion in foreign aid out of total government spending of $3.52 trillion.  After a few months of criticism, Paul replaced his budget with a new one.   The section on Israel is omitted.  In addition, instead of cutting all foreign aid, foreign aid would be frozen at $5 billion.  This budget was the same budget that he introduced to the Senate.  Roughly three years later, in August of 2014, when a reporter asked him about ending foreign aid to Israel, he said the following:

“I haven’t really proposed that in the past.  We’ve never had a legislative proposal to do that.  You can mistake my position, but then I’ll answer the question.  That has not been a position – a legislative position- we have introduced to phase out or get rid or get rid of Israel’s aid.  That’s the answer to that question.  Israel has always been a strong ally of ours and I appreciate that.  I voted just this week to give money-more money- to the Iron dome, so don’t mischaracterize my position on Israel.”   Again, we see how Senator Paul responds to criticism.

While promoting his budget, Senator Paul stated that public opinion was on his side.  According to the Pew Research Center, cutting foreign aid has plurality support from 2009-2013.  In 2011, 45% of Americans thought we should decrease funding to aid to the world’s needy, compared to 21% who thought we should increase it.  This is largely because Americans constantly overestimate how much spending goes to foreign aid.  The Kaiser Family Foundation, in November of 2013, found that 62%of Americans thought that we spend too much money on foreign aid.  The poll found that, on average, Americans thought that 28% of the budget goes to foreign aid.  Once respondents were informed that spending on foreign aid accounted for 1% of the budget, the amount of people who thought it was too much was almost cut in half and those who thought it was too little doubled.


In February of 2013, Paul had written to John Brennan requesting additional information on the Obama administration’s belief of drone strikes on U.S. soil.  Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter back, dated March 4, 2013, to the Senator stating the administration has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and “has no intention of doing so.”  Further, Holder dismissed Paul’s questioning as entirely hypothetical and unlikely to occur.  Holder finally admits that there are extraordinary circumstances where the President would have no choice to authorize the military strike.  The examples Holder gave was Pearl Harbor and the September 11 attacks.  Soon after he received the letter, Paul issued a press release stating that Holder has not ruled out drone strikes on American soil, calling it an “affront [to] the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans.”

On March 6th, hours before Paul’s filibuster began,  the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on oversight for the Department of Justice.  Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) began a line of questioning on Holder to clarify the position of the administration on drones.  The line of questioning led to a question that was intended to ask, does the Constitution allow the United States to to use a drone to kill a United states Citizen, even one who is a suspected terrorist, while he is sitting at a cafe and not an imminent threat.  After a lengthy back and forth, Holder finally stated that no, the Constitution does not allow it.  Senator Cruz seemed pleased with this remark stating, in his usual grace, “after much gymnastics, I am very glad to hear that it is the opinion of the Department of Justice that it would be unconstitutional to kill a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil if that individual did not pose an imminent threat.”

Soon after that, Paul’s filibuster began.  He criticized the letter issuing a blanket statement that “there is the use of lethal force that can always be repelled.  If our country is attacked, the President has the right to defend and protect the country.  Nobody questions that.  Nobody questions if planes are flying towards the twin towers whether they can be repulsed by the military.  Nobody questions whether a terrorist with a rocket launcher or a grenade launcher is attacking us, whether they can be repelled.”  Senator Cruz and Senator Mike Lee both asked Senator Paul if he was aware of the Senate Judiciary hearing earlier and the response Holder had given.  He said that he was and that he was not satisfied as Holder had not said that it was unconstitutional but just responding to Cruz’s question.  Senator Paul received a letter from Holder later stating simply that the president does not have authority to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil.  Again, nothing about constitutionality.  Nevertheless, Senator declared victory stating that he finally received the answer to the question he asked.

Paul drew distinction between Holder’s responses, despite saying almost the exact same thing as Holder did, in his letter to Paul.  During the filibuster, Paul stated, “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone without first being charged with a crime, without first being found guilty by a court.”  That statement is not quite correct.  As Senator Paul pointed out in his filibuster multiple times, that there should be an imminent threat standard.  Paul was critical of the Obama administration not wanting to debate the 5th Amendment, saying “if we’re going to do something, so dramatic as to no longer have the 5th Amendment apply in the United States, to have no accusation, to have no rest, jury trials for folks that are to be killed in the United States, it’s such a dramatic change that you would think we would want to have a full airing of a debate over this.”  During the 4th hour of the filibuster, Paul stated bluntly, “I’m aware of no legal precedent for taking the life of an American without the 5th Amendment or due process.”

On April 22, 2013, Senator Paul appeared on Neil Cavuto’s Fox Business Network Program.  You can watch the video at this link, so you don’t think I’m taking the Senator’s words out of context. “I never argued against any technology, when you have an imminent threat, an active crime going on.  If someone comes out of the liquor store,with a weapon in $50 in cash.  I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.”  Police officers are only authorized to use deadly force if a suspect is an imminent threat to the life of an officer or the people nearby.  This should be concerning to the 2nd Amendment supporters and gun rights activists who believe that the Obama administration will take away their guns.  Senator Paul seems to believe that someone with a gun is an imminent threat and can be killed by a drone, onsite.  Sensing the contradictory nature of his words on Cavuto’s program and his filibuster, Paul issued a press release: “Armed drones should not be used in normal crime situations.  They may only be considered in extraordinary, lethal situations where there is an ongoing imminent threat.  I described that scenario previously during my Senate filibuster.”  The scenario if you missed it was the 9/11 attacks or Pearl Harbor, essentially.  The same exact thing Holder said.  Senator Paul and his office said that it was unfair to single out one specific quote from his filibuster to show his hypocrisy.  Apparently, they were fine when they argued semantics about the Obama administration’s position on drones.

Senator Paul’s legislative actions to stop drone strikes was to write a bill that would prevent drone strikes on American citizens on American soil unless it was an extraordinary circumstance.  No bills were written to prevent drone strikes that are currently taking place.

Rand’s rise

It was after Rand’s filibuster that the media began to really fall in love with him.  Fox News described him, incorrectly, to the left of Barack Obama on drones.  Many political commentators were enthusiastic about Senator Paul and his stand against the arbitrary executive.  Very few media publications were willing to state that Senator Paul had the same position on drone strikes that he was filibustering.  The filibuster did not criticize the Iraqi war or the neoconservative hawkish tendencies of the Republican Party but was only a criticism of the Obama administration (for the most part) which plays well to the Republican base regardless of their tendencies to describe themselves, incorrectly, as libertarian.

The filibuster certainly had the desired effect of lifting Paul’s name in political circles.  In polls taken immediately after the filibuster, Paul’s name recognition among Republican primary voters had skyrocketed.  More importantly, they had skyrocketed in the positive direction.  Suddenly, Paul became the voice of freedom defending everyday Americans from the tyranny of the Obama administration.  His filibuster focused on a hypothetical that has no chance of occurring but paints a picture in people’s minds that they are willing to accept.  It’s not hard for many opponents of the Obama administration to believe that a drone strike could be ordered on someone sitting at a café in Houston minding their own business.  Of course, many of these same people believe that Obama is taking their guns and raising their taxes.  Their views on what is actually happening is somewhat skewed.

The media already had problems with drone strikes and Senator Paul helped to capitalize on this.  Of course, the media criticism of drone strikes was focusing on drone strikes that were happening overseas on suspected terror suspects.  There was also criticism of the list that the Obama administration had that listed their terror suspects.  The lack of transparency and the killing of seemingly random people overseas enraged many people including many members of the media.  Of course, there was very little criticism of this from Paul but the media heard drones and wanted to report on it.

The criticism of Rand

When the media does criticize Rand Paul, it’s for reasons that really do not have to do with his own policy ideas, however toxic that they can be.  He was criticized for having a close aide and co-author of a book who was a pro-secessionist radio host and neo-confederate activist.  Rand’s father, Ron published a racist newsletter and the casual association between the elder Paul and racism was waved away by libertarian writers, including Reason magazine editor, Nick Gillespie.  Jonathan Chait, a writer for the New York Daily News notes that the association between the Pauls and racism should not discredit their ideas but that “white supremacy is a much more important historical constituency for anti-government ideas than libertarians like to admit.”

Other criticism of the Senator focused on plagiarism.  During a speech, he, or rather his aides, wrote a speech heavily plagiarizing from the Wikipedia entries on the movie Gattaca among other places.

When the media tries to call out the Senator on his flip-flopping of ideas or repeats the words that Paul had used in the past, the media is construed as the bad guy.

Later tenure

During the fiscal year 2014 budget negotiations, Senator Paul proposed an amendment that would withdraw all funding for the United Nations.  Ron Paul was a frequent sponsor of a bill that would remove the United States from the United Nations.  In 2011, Senator Paul sent an e-mail to his supporters fundraising based off of the U.N. Small Arms Treaty which he claimed would take your guns from you.   Despite being very popular among right-wing conspiracy theorists, the treaty is not nearly that interesting nor does it claim what they claim it can do.

After Edward Snowden leaked documents about the controversial spying with the National Security Agency, Senator Paul realized what a great opportunity this was for himself.  Senator Paul joined TEA Party backed Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and FreedomWorks to sue the Obama administration over the NSA metadata spying.  According to one lawyer who also filed suit against the spying, the lawsuit authored by Paul, Cuccinelli, and FreedomWorks was plagiarized.  The lawsuit gave Paul some credibility within the civil libertarian community.  The lawsuit was the centerpiece of a number of speeches given by him, including a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference which was well-received.

Senator Paul, while campaigning, stated that he has zero tolerance for discrimination.  The Senate proposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit employer discrimination based on sexual identity or orientation.  While it was in committee, Senator Paul voted against the bill and voted against it again once it was brought up to the whole Senate.  Perhaps this is not surprising since he does not believe that the federal government should be legislating against the employer’s wishes to discriminate.  Before it went before the Senate, Senator Paul and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to add an amendment that would create a “national right to work law.”  Right to work laws are laws that prohibit employers and workers from entering into contracts mandating union membership for any profession.  This would, seemingly, contradict Paul’s position on legislating who employers can hire.

In the late summer of 2013, the Syrian conflict had intensified with a report that Bashar al Assad’s regime had used chemical weapons on the rebel fighters on August 21.  At first, Senator Paul stated that we should support Assad because he had protected Christians in Syria.  He argued that the military strikes would destabilize the Assad regime which would then endanger Christians in the region.  Then he went on Fox News, and goshdarnit those liberals at Fox News, got Paul to say that Assad deserved death for the use of chemical weapons on civilians but that the air strikes would not be effective enough against the Assad regime.

After the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee (RNC) performed an election autopsy to determine why they lost and how to prevent future losses.  One of the key findings of the report was that the Republican Party needed to reach outside their traditional demographic, rich old white guys.  Rand took it upon himself to show that he was the right person for the job to reach out to younger voters, Latino voters, among others.

Reaching out to Latino voters

Senator Paul was critical of immigration reform including the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill.  In his own effort to help with immigration reform, he decided to add an amendment intended to “Secure the Vote”.    His amendment would “require states to check citizenship before registering people to vote in federal elections.”  According to his press release, the amendment would ensure that individuals on work visas or given a new status under the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform are not allowed to vote until they become citizens.  He introduced an amendment to add onto this bill that would remove the pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.  Instead, his amendment would treat the immigrants as if they were in line in their home country while they are in the United States.

After the summer “crisis” of thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally, the Republican Party had a golden opportunity to show how they would reach out to Latino voters.  The Republican led House of Representatives passed two bills to deal with the crisis.  One of the bills focused on President Obama’s deferred action policy to not deport DREAMers.  The DREAMers are young adults who were brought to America as children and have completed high school and lived in the United States for at least five years prior to the bill’s passage.  To qualify for conditional status, they would need to have graduated from a two-year community college, completed two years toward a four-year degree, or have served two years in the military and after that, they can apply for permanent resident status within a specific 6 year period.  Americans overwhelmingly support keeping DREAMers in the country.  In the perfect way of reaching outside the demographic, Senator Paul went to Guatemala on a medical mission, accompanied by television cameras, photographers, political reporters, and two press secretaries.  When asked by right-wing news site Breitbart, Paul stated that he supported the House bills and “it will go a long way to fixing the problem.”  The Senator’s office confirmed that Paul supported both bills the House passed.

As we saw above, Senator Paul does not support a pathway to citizenship to those here illegally.  According to the national exit poll in 2012, 77% of Latino voters believe that unauthorized immigrants working in America should be offered a chance at legal status with only 18% saying that they should be deported.  The pathway to citizenship is somewhat more popular with Latino voters than it is with all voters nationwide.

Immigration reform is not the only important thing to look at when we look at appealing to Latino voters.  Looking at a poll from ImpreMedia/Latino Decisions from November 6, 2012, we see how Latinos view a number of other key issues.  To reduce the deficit, 42% of Latino voters believe that spending should be reduced and there should be increased taxes.  Only 12% of Latino voters believe that reducing the deficit should only be done through spending cuts.  25% of Latino voters believe that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed.  61% of Latino voters believe that the Affordable Care Act should stand as law.  Going further than the Affordable Care Act, two-thirds of Latino voters believe that the federal government should ensure that all people have access to health insurance.  Only a quarter of Latino voters think that people should provide their own health insurance.  While Paul is convinced that if he can just talk to Latino voters, he can convince them that he is right, this does not seem likely.

Reaching out to women

Since Paulism is essentially Republicanism with the added bonus of favoring marijuana legalization, it comes as no surprise that Paul is extremely pro-life.  Senator Paul has twice proposed a bill that would declare that human life begins at conception; this would give fertilized eggs the same legal status as those who are born.  Senator Paul stated that Congress has the power to define when human life begins under the 14th Amendment.   These types of law are known as personhood laws and do their very best to make abortions illegal. This type of law and this view is not popular with any segment of the population in America, except very right-wing Republicans.  A CBS News Poll released in August of 2014, found that 36% of Americans believe that abortions should be available, 34% said that they should be available under stricter limits, with only 26% of Americans stating that they should not be permitted.   A CNN Poll released in February of 2014 found similar results with 27% saying abortions should always be legal, 51% saying sometimes legal, and only 20% saying that they should always be illegal.

Lest I get criticized by those on the Right, who think it’s unfair to only include abortion and birth control in the issues about women, I’ll point out a couple of quick things.  Women tend to be more liberal than their male counterparts.  For instance, they support same-sex marriage by a much higher margin than males.  Rand Paul believes the issue of same-sex marriage should be returned to the states, although he states that he, himself, does not approve of same-sex marriage.  In general, women support stricter gun control laws.  They support a larger social safety net.  They are also more likely to support a path to citizenship for immigration reform.  All of these things, Senator Paul opposes.  Women, though, are more likely to believe that marijuana should not be legal according to a CBS Poll released May 18, 2014 showing 53% of women stated that marijuana should not be legal.

Reaching out to younger voters

According to the Pew Research Center’s fantastic work on millennials, about half of millennials do not identify with either political party even though they are “the most liberal and least conservative” of the four generations that the Pew Research Center studied.   17% of millenials identify as Republicans compared to 27% identifying as Democrats.  If you include those who lean towards a political party, nearly 50% of millennials identify as Democrats or lean Democratic compared to 34% for the Republican Party.

Those are just the parties; if Senator Paul will truly reach out to younger voters it will be on the issues.  Over two-thirds (68%) of millennials support same-sex marriage, which was a 24 point increase since 2004, the largest increase over the four generations.  Millennials also believe in a path to citizenship to those in the country illegally.  55% of millennials support a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants compared to 25% who believe that undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay and only be able to apply for permanent residency and 16% who believe that undocumented immigrants should not be allowed to stay legally.  56% of millennials believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases and 49% of millennials believe in stricter gun control.  53% of millennials believe that government should be bigger and offer more services.  No other generation has majority approval for a bigger government.  While millennials are skeptical of the Affordable Care Act, 42% approve compared to 54% who disapprove, 54% of millennials believe that it is the government responsibility to insure coverage for all.

Where Rand Paul actually reaches younger voters is his somewhat actual libertarian stance on the drug war.  69% of millennials support the legalization of marijuana.  According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center released in February of 2014, 39% of Americans stated that marijuana should be legal for personal use and 44% stated that it should be legal for medicinal use.  To be fair to Senator Paul, he is trying to reform our criminal justice system with Senator Cory Booker.  He is trying to end mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders and to focus more on treatment for those in prison for drug possession compared to punishment.  Two-thirds of Americans agree that the government should focus more on providing treatment for people who use heroin and cocaine rather than prosecuting them.  Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Americans believe that it is a good thing for states to move away from mandatory prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders.

An interesting politician

Part of the reason that the media and people, in general, are infatuated with Rand Paul is that he is an interesting politician.  He makes interesting choices that other politicians are not willing to make.  He and his aides write a lot of op-eds on anything from foreign policy objectives to the demilitarization of the police.  He went to Howard University to give a talk about how the Republican Party can be inclusive (there were lots of things wrong with the speech but still an interesting choice).  He went through with a formal filibuster, as opposed to the normal procedural filibuster.  He is also willing to talk to the media about a number of key issues.

Senator Paul is media savvy but it does not make him a great person or someone who can change the standing of the Republican Party with a number of key demographics.  While Senator Paul can communicate with the media effectively, he cannot hide his record of voting or obsession with adding amendments to bills that are likely to pass.  He can make great talking point speeches about the arbitrary executive, the drug war, the rights of employers to privately discriminate, or how the Republican Party can be more inclusive but eventually he needs to follow it up with actions that actually agree with the speeches he makes.

At a certain point, media members and even those who try to convince themselves that they are libertarian will be faced with two realities.  The first is that they will realize that Paul is not a libertarian but rather a Republican who has some nominally libertarian ideas.  If those who believe they are libertarian still believe that Paul is their savior then go for it but they should probably re-identify as Republicans.  The other reality is one that everyone must face at one point in their life.  That reality is that your political view is an individualized project and it’s not easy to convince people that your political views are right because your views are not always right.  For the media members this would mean that maybe Paulism is not going to take off just because you believe a politician is interesting or because the views of the politician match some supporters at arbitrary points.