The punditocracy has decreed that Rand Paul is a failed candidate. They tell us that his efforts to retain Ron Paul’s core supporters while attracting a larger GOP base have failed. They say he’s alienated libertarians without making enough inroads with conservatives. The message from our self-appointed media elites is clear: stay home. We, your esteemed thought-leaders, have ruled him out, so you might as well not waste your time.
It would be easy to forget among all the premature obituaries of Rand Paul’s campaign that not a single American has yet cast their vote for President. I’m an Iowan, and the first poll that actually matters comes to my state February 1. I still plan to vote my conscience, and my conscience says to vote for Rand Paul.
The defining conservative issue of our time is not merely big government. It is the twisted alliance of big government, big money, and big business. Rand Paul is the only Republican candidate for President who appears to truly understand this, or at least the only one willing to challenge it, and that is why he gets my vote.
Rand Paul literally wrote the book on big government abuse of power (Government Bullies). He’s not the only Republican to call for limitations on federal power, but he’s one of the few to get beyond vague generalities. He has spoken in detail about the federal administrative state, which rules our lives with acres of administrative rules that, in many cases, can send people to prison based on commandments that no voter or elected official ever voted for.
Moreover, Rand Paul has done more than just call out the problem. He’s offered concrete solutions. He introduced legislation that would have required an affirmative Congressional vote to approve every economically significant regulation (defined as costing more than $100 million), rather than the current system that presumes regulations are valid unless Congress specifically passes a bill to disapprove them. Currently, under any President that supports the acts of his own regulators, Congress needs to come up with the 2/3 super-majority votes necessary to override a Presidential veto. It’s almost impossible under the current system for our elected legislators to override the quasi-legislative acts of unelected executive branch officials; Rand Paul has put forth a simple, straight-forward plan to fix that.
Yet Rand Paul does not stop at government as though it somehow existed in a vacuum, independent of the other clusters of privilege and power. He recognizes that big government is very much in bed with big money and big business, the very “donor class” that tends to control nominations in both parties.
Denouncing bailouts for bankers and corporate welfare is every bit as conservative as denouncing bailouts for the unemployed and plain-old welfare. It also has the advantage of debunking the lie that Republicans only care about the rich, and illustrates the problem with concentrated power. The more concentrated the power, the more the powerful can steal from the rest of us.
Rand Paul’s proposals about the Federal Reserve may seem like quixotic esoterica, but they fall at the heart of the money-government nexus. The Fed is an unaccountable quasi-government, quasi-financial entity that for many years has made the political decision to print money for the financial class—at the expense of ordinary workers and savers whose buying power shrivels as the money supply grows. You may agree or disagree with the economics of this policy, but surely it’s legitimate to ask why the Fed makes its decisions. Rand Paul has sponsored legislation standing for the (apparently radical) notion that maybe, just maybe, our elected officials should be allowed to at least look under the hood and see how our unelected financial oligarchy makes its decisions.
Challenging the unquestioned power of an immensely powerful government/financial institution IS A CONSERVATIVE PROJECT.
If Republicans want to win the next generation, we need to make the case that we’re the ones who stand for liberty and justice, and that the best way to achieve both is to honor our founding principles of making ambition oppose ambition, and dividing power so that no one cluster of elites can dictate our lives.
The Democrats have made inequality the touchstone of their campaign. If they can sell young people on the idea that more government can eliminate inequality, they’ve won. Bernie Sanders understands that. Hillary pretends to.
We need to persuade young people that greater equality comes from taking government out of the equation, by reducing the bureaucratic burden that crushes startups, small businesses, and individuals while propping up incumbent behemoths. We need to make the case that big government and big money are not opposing forces, but two sides of the same coin, and that you can’t reduce the power of one without the other. We need to make the case that tax breaks, loopholes, and sweetheart government contracts for those who can afford the best lobbyists is not a part of real capitalism, and actually contributes to uneven concentrations of wealth.
Rand Paul is the only Republican that makes that case. He’s the only candidate with a consistent message of liberty, limited government, and limiting all the parasites that hang off of government.
Rand Paul understands the defining political issue of our time and is the best positioned to make a Republican argument for liberty and equality to the next generation of voters.
That’s why he (still) has my vote.