Reprinted from The Nation
Rand Paul got it right.
And that lack of caring means that, for anyone who values the basic liberties that underpin the American experiment, Trump is disqualified as a presidential contender.
That is the small measure of illumination produced by the 5th Republican presidential debate.
Yes, it is interesting that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio seem to be more interested in debating each other than the front-runner for the party's nomination. Yes, it is interesting that Jeb Bush is still trying to make his mark, and as a result making it harder for Chris Christie (despite his best debate yet) to clear the space for an establishment candidacy that might matter. Yes, it is interesting that the Republican race retains its steadily dysfunctional dynamic, to such an extent that Trump could announce with a reasonably straight face that "Jeb doesn't really believe I'm unhinged."
But what matters is that Trump was called out where he needed to be called out.
Paul, the senator from Kentucky whose candidacy has never quite gotten off the ground, used his time on the debate stage to focus on the fundamental threat posed by Trump's disregard for civil liberties.
Paul opened the debate by declaring, "The question is, How do we keep America safe from terrorism? Trump says we ought to close that Internet thing. The question really is, What does he mean by that? Like they do in North Korea? Like they do in China?"
Noting the penchant of two fellow Republicans (Trump and Rubio) to neglect and dismiss the essential liberties outlined in the Bill of Rights and defined by two centuries of political and legal struggle, Paul explained, "The Constitution says otherwise. I think they're both wrong. I think we defeat terrorism by showing them that we do not fear them. I think if we ban certain religions, if we censor the Internet, I think that at that point the terrorists will have won. Regime change hasn't won. Toppling secular dictators in the Middle East has only led to chaos and the rise of radical Islam. I think if we want to defeat terrorism, I think if we truly are sincere about defeating terrorism, we need to quit arming the allies of ISIS. If we want to defeat terrorism, the boots on the ground -- the boots on the ground need to be Arab boots on the ground."
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