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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/21/10

Who the Hell is Rand Paul?

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Those who wish to understand the Tea Party movement should understand that there are really two of them: the Sarah Palin, pro-war, pro-torture Neocon wing and the Ron Paul-based Libertarians, who both employ the same small gubmint rhetoric while arriving at it from vastly different perspectives.

During the Rand Paul campaign one of the most contentious episodes was the debate among his supporters, who were responsible for the hugely successful "money bombs" which raised large amounts of money for chosen candidates, over whether to accept a Palin endorsement of Paul the Younger. The vast majority of Paulers, Rand Paul's base, consider Palin a war-monger Neocon and Constitution-shredder, in contrast to Rand Paul's tendency to follow his father's philosophy of considered non-intervention in foreign affairs and slamming US empire-building in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of Paul's early supporters swore that they would be done with Rand Paul if he embraced Palin.

Others saw Palin's overtures as an effort to latch onto Paul's popularity, which resonated with conservative voters who insisted that although they opposed Obama and everything he stood for, they would not be tools of the establishment GOP either.

In the blogs and forums of the Tea Parties frequent reference was made to Hannity/Limbaugh attempts to portray the Tea parties as anti-Obama outpouring, with scornful remarks added to the effect that "yes, we are against Obama, but we're not yours either." If anything the Tea Parties reflected an anti-incumbent sentiment which sprang from the bipartisan TARP and subsequent financial services industry bailouts, when fiscal conservatives learned what the anti-war left going back to the Impeach Bush Movement already knew. Despite a truly impressive outpouring of anti-bailout phone-calling and lobbying even by organizations such as the anti-illegal-immigration ALIPAC, the politicians simply no longer gave a sh*t what anyone but their corporate benefactors thought. Main Street felt the sting of pure powerlessness, and vowed primary challenges.

Rand Paul accepted Palin's embrace, with supporters arguing slyly that it was Palin who would now be schooled, not the other way around. Palin's outreach was seen for what it was by more pragmatic Paul supporters: an attempt to appropriate some of the luster Paul was enjoying, which they argued would help him more than hurt him, by bringing the You-betcha-winking, anti-elitist side of the social divide over to Paul's side. It was a tactical move, and as far as Rand Paul's true feelings about civil liberties and war, the inch to the right was not a worry since this was above all Ron Paul's son, and that "the acorn does not fall far from the tree."

Paul's anti-torture, pro-civil liberties, anti-war supporters, who were in essence his base, argued that it was time to grow up and this was an election with potential for victory. For the moment, there was no time to educate all of Kentucky on the beauty of the Constitution.

Although Paul stuck to his guns on the Constitution and civil liberties against the attacks of primary opponent Trey Grayson that he was "weakening America" and leaving it "vulnerable to attack," Paul was forced to concede after watching his polls drop that perhaps "enemy combatants" captured on "the battlefield" did not "deserve" the rights inherent in a civilian trial, but rather a military tribunal.

This concession cost Paul further support from his pro-Constitution, anti-Neocon base, but supporters saw it as a necessary evil in the superheated primary environment.

Paul's civil liberties issues page reads:

The Founding Fathers warned of a Federal Government bent on usurping the power, rights, and privacy of its States and citizens. In the last nine years, the Federal Government has expanded the scope of its power at an alarming rate, while blatantly ignoring the Constitution.

Whether it's passing the 315 page Patriot Act without a single member of Congress ever reading the bill, proposing a National ID Card, establishing FISA courts and utilizing warrantless searches, or betraying the medical privacy of ordinary citizens, the Federal Government has overstepped its limited powers as stipulated in the Constitution.

The good news is that the Republican voters of Kentucky's closed primary have rejected the fear-mongering, pro-war GOP establishment figure of Trey Grayson, a Dick Cheny replica who never met a form of torture he didn't like. Paul's victory presents the spectacle of a pro-Constitution Republican who in foreign affairs likes to quote Eisenhower and calls out "the military-industrial-complex." Socially he is every bit as conservative as his father. The question for Democrats is where in this new and interesting political continuum will they position themselves. Paul is no Trey Grayson, but neither is he a friend to Obama.

Rand Paul Youtube on Foreign Policy

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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on (more...)

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