Members of the establishment right hating Rand Paul is like a kid hating ice cream because it has the wrong colored sprinkles on top. When I hear Dana Perino on Fox News, you’d think she’s talking about Bill Ayers when she launches into a rant against Paul. Rand Paul’s shade of foreign policy does not suit establishment pundits like her, so they dump him out like last week’s trash.
Paul illustrates the fact that U.S. offensive military adventures and foreign occupations almost inevitably render serious unforeseen consequences. Richard Nixon was handed a quagmire in Vietnam thanks to Kennedy and Johnson’s escalating involvement there. Likewise, Obama was handed a tricky situation by the George W. Bush administration’s decision to occupy Iraq. Today we are vexed by the fight with ISIS and the threat of Iran gaining nuclear weapons. Let’s remember Iran would have likely taken a different tack and would be a much different country today if it had not been for the 1953 U.S. led overthrow of the Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran. The U.S. took him out and installed our friend Mohammad-Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. Well, that had consequences. It indirectly led to the re-takeover of Iran by a much more radical and dangerous element in 1979. They were getting back at the U.S. for meddling just like Bin Laden was trying to get back at us for the U.S. installing military bases around sacred areas of the Middle East.
We should not condemn America for wanting to influence the world and guide countries in becoming free, democratic and capitalistic, especially against the backdrop of the Russian influence, trying to make vulnerable countries into the opposite. I’m not saying that there is never a need for military force, but ever since WWII many of our foreign adventures have been questionable and many have created so much blowback that the original endeavor, though noble, was hardly worth it. Lately we seem to be making more hornet’s nests than happy countries.
On the issue of government surveillance, I am a bit vacillating. I can completely see the argument that people like Rand and Ron Paul, and our own local John Whitehead put forth. It appears that we are getting closer and closer to what many dystopian novels like 1984 and Brave New World predicted. We’re spied on, have secret files kept on us, and we’re cowered into submission by an excessive use of force in situations where such force is not warranted. Today police can walk into your home and take your possessions (and you) on very flimsy grounds. We are experiencing many of the same frustrations the American colonists felts toward the British Crown—except that today’s central government is on our soil instead of across the Atlantic in London. I have to say, the injustices the colonists faced from England seem trivial compared to the onerous taxes, unlawfulness and brute force we see in modern America. Give me a measly 3% tea tax any day over the IRS. Give me a British soldier wanting a bed and a warm meal over the modern American police smashing down your door and lobbing flash grenades. Our taxes are so high today we would kill for rates as low as the stamp act or sugar act. The colonists, well, they did kill over those taxes. Strange how things have turned upside down. Ahh, the good ole tyrannical days of yore.
On the other hand, many threats are contained and terror plots stopped through smart analysis of data, and yes, sometimes that data is obtained in a questionable way. Look at the latest mass shooting – the Charleston church massacre, where a white male came into the church and shot nine black worshipers. If it weren’t for the surveillance cameras, that killer may have escaped justice by blending back into everyday society. However, because he was recorded on a surveillance camera, authorities quickly learned his identity. And if it weren’t for the intrusive traffic stop in Shelby, NC the day after the shooting, the young man, Dylann Roof may have gotten away. Due to intrusive methods of surveillance and a traffic stop based on an educated guess, Roof will now be brought to justice.
So it’s complicated. I do think Rand is on the right track when he argues for more government warrants and less secrecy. Rand Paul is not pushing for less strenuous efforts to stop criminals and terrorists, but he is arguing for a more transparent and above the board process in obtaining information to go after the bad guys.
Author Tom Clancey once said “What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else.” I think most conservatives would agree with that statement. So if conservatives think that government mucks up almost everything it does and everything government touches turn to crap, why would we have so much confidence in the government to not abuse the awesome power obtained by such data collection? Why should that area of big government be out of the scope of a distrusting conservative?
A recent video the Paul campaign put out highlights many bold things he wants to accomplish. This includes an “over $2 trillion tax cut that would repeal the entire IRS tax code—more than 70,000 pages—and replace it with a low, broad-based tax of 14.5% on individuals and businesses” and a plan to “eliminate the payroll tax on workers and several federal taxes outright, including gift and estate taxes, telephone taxes, and all duties and tariffs”. Sounds good to me – let’s get started on that.
I get the feeling that we are living in a time very reminiscent of the 1960s and early 1970s. The anger and division that you see across America, the military quagmire on foreign soil, the cloud of the cold war with Russia, the in-your-face progressive equality movement, a leftist president that is incompetent (Carter and Obama), intractable economic woes, and young people in a precarious situation. Patriotism in America is at a low point. People get excited about the virtues and promise of America about as much as they get excited about the next Rocky movie. However there are definitely things that are different from the hippie era. We have an oil glut as opposed to an oil shortage, and music is much crappier these days.
As with Reagan being elected after the exasperating tenure of Jimmy Carter, let us all hope that out of this current crowded field of Republican presidential candidates there is a Reagan-esque figure. Let’s hope that person revives the American spirit and makes us not as divided and angry at each other, but instead divided and angry about what the federal government is doing to destroy the ideas of the Founding Fathers. I hope that person is Rand Paul but would be almost equally happy if it were one of the other Republican candidates. Going back to an ice cream analogy (hey, it’s summertime) the Republican candidates are just different flavors of ice cream after eating bugs for 8 years – although Paul is chocolate and Trump and Christie would be banana and watermelon.
I concede Rand Paul’s experience as a Senator does not stack up to the experience of the candidates who were governors. Some point to the last Senator we elected (Obama) and how that didn’t turn out so good. Governors tend to be more primed for the office of President. I won’t argue with that. If experience was a poker hand, a mere U.S. Senator holds a strait while a former governor trumps him with a flush. Jeb Bush holds that advantage, however he has the “Bush” name, which works against him. If three members of the same Bush nuclear family will have become president by 2016, there is something deeply disturbing about that. If the 2016 election is between Clinton and Bush, that would be equally disturbing, and would merit a widespread boycott of the election. Let’s hope this “full house” of Republican candidates brings someone besides Jeb.
One final thing to consider is that Paul has strong support among young people. They flock to him charged up, ready for fightin’. No other Republican candidate comes close to attracting so many young people. Since Republicans currently tend to be older and have a problem connecting with younger, hipper folks, how will the torch of conservatism be passed on to millennials? It’s already a tall order for us, seeing how kids are so lost in an electronic world of trivialities these days. They are getting their news from Facebook and watching Taylor Swift videos, not reading Murray Rothbard and listening to Rush.
Wouldn’t it be a more solid bet to support Paul, realizing he holds the greatest promise of passing that torch, the greatest likelihood of communicating the message of small government to people under 35? A Santorum or Walker, although potentially great presidents, would likely put more nails in the conservatism’s coffin. This is unfair and unfortunate, but nevertheless probably true. Wouldn’t it be smart to give in on a few points on which Paul sees differently than you in exchange for facilitating a massive youth movement into conservatism?
Let’s just make it through Obama’s lame duck period, and then let’s finally elect a president that speaks the truth about our dire debt situation, is able to lead with authority in world affairs, and stands for the individual rights and governmental limitations outlined by the American Constitution. I realize that Rand Paul’s ideas may not jibe with your ideology on every issue, but come on, y’all stop beatin’ up on my man Rand!