Survival of Iowa Straw Poll is Good for Rand Paul

The big political news out of Iowa this week is that the much-ballyhooed Iowa Straw Poll survives.  Sometime next August the Republican Presidential candidates that care to know what Iowa’s grass roots think of them will come together with their supporters for bar-b-q, speeches, revelry and of course the eponymous poll. Meanwhile, back in D.C., the Washington Post has been poo-pooing [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ]’s chances to win the Presidential nomination, citing among other things its opinion that he cannot woo conservative Christian voters that supposedly control the straw poll.  The Post is wrong twice.  One, [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] can win conservative Christian voters.  Two, the Iowa Straw Poll is not controlled by any one cohort and is open to the entire range of conservative and libertarian opinion.

[mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] can win over Christians.  Who says he can’t?  Mostly left-wing media outlets, like the Post.  Anytime a left-wing publication presumes to tell conservatives who they support it’s usually a good idea to do the opposite.  [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] is an avowed Christian whose faith informs his political views, and he has consistently stood up for freedom of religion against government attempts to force religious people to compromise their values or muzzle their speech.  Leftists would like the frame the values debate in terms of a false dichotomy between an activist government opposing traditional religious values and an equally activist government promoting traditional religious values.  But there is a third way, and that is getting the government out of the way of religion altogether.  When the mayor of Houston sought to subpoena the speeches of Christian pastors opposing a government ordinance it was [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] that penned an eloquent defense of the right of religious people to stand up for what they believe:


It gives religious leaders far too little credit to assume that they will automatically support big government candidates so long as the candidates promise that, this time, government will be on their side.  Religious leaders understand that government power over values, once granted, is almost impossible to revoke.  They understand the danger of using government force to impose their views when that same force can easily be turned against them the next time the political winds change.  There is an important argument to be made that we shouldn’t permit government to meddle in social values at all, and leave private institutions to debate and decide such issues.  The values our society holds dear are the product of the grass roots, ordinary men and women, pastors and other religious leaders, and not something to be decided by government officials.  [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] can make that case, and he can win with it.

It’s also false to assume that any one subgroup controls the Iowa Straw Poll.  The fact is that the straw poll casts a wide net.  Anyone willing to pay the price of admission, $30 in the last election, can cast his or her vote.  Thus it is the ultimate political free market.  It is up for grabs to anyone that can inspire enough people to show up.  It is a test of both enthusiasm and organization, two things that the Paul campaign excels at.  [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] knows how to organize, and his message brings out young people that don’t mind going a little bit out of their way to be heard.

[mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] makes Democrats nervous.  Perhaps that’s why Democrats are so desperate to dismiss him as a fringe candidate.  Perhaps that’s why every other article from the MSM predicts his imminent burnout and tries to convince Republicans that he’s not really one of them.  Republicans can and will make up their own minds, and the first place they’ll do so is at the Iowa Straw Poll.  The Paul campaign is just getting started.