Some time last year I learned that Rand Paul was exploring the possibility of running for the United States Senate. I called him and interviewed him by phone. Soon thereafter he was being interviewed by everybody, from MSNBC to FoxNews. At first he was treated by the others as an interesting oddity, as his father’s tilt against the establishment opened the door to explore just who was “Rand” Paul, and why was he named that?
As time went by, Rand hit stride. He caught the winds of discontent in his sails, he was buoyed by the wave of the rising TEA party movement in the nation, and he changed the pace and cadence of political discussion with his longer, more thoughtful answers to questions which contrasted sharply with the sound bite delivery of career politicians.
Before long his message became more important than his delivery and the truths he spoke about our nation’s condition served a bitter pill of reality to many who were confused and who had been looking for assurance that things were really alright. To thinking adults, Rand Paul’s bitter medicine cured the congestion of political infection and allowed a much needed breath of fresh air.
Immediately after taking office Rand set about making good on campaign promises, a stunning departure from the norm. But he also ran into the walls of gridlock and procedure in Washington, walls of power to which so many others in the past had conceded. Yet Rand’s response was not concession, his response was instead to escalate the battle.
Over the past few weeks Rand has been traveling to the usual, early primary states, obviously testing the waters to see if the nation is really ready to take the fight he brought to the Senate to the next level. His exploration of a presidential run is far less a test of his own popularity, as it is a test of the nation’s stomach for making tough decisions.
In this exploration Rand will enjoy the benefits of the decade long efforts of his father’s organizational development. And he will enjoy some of the same type press coverage he received at the beginning of his Senate bid, he will be talked about as an oddity.
But just as in his run for senate, the press would do well to consider the more important, thoughtful and principled energy Rand is capable tapping which has now spilled far outside of the Ron Paul movement and spread not only across the nation, but across party lines as well. Here is one anecdotal bit of evidence to help make my point.
During the 2008 presidential race I was having a conversation with a colleague in San Diego. She is a social progressive, she is a vegan, Jewish and quite the free thinker. For the most part I would have suspected this combination of factors to mean that she was a democrat, though I never asked.
While discussing the various candidates for president she surprised me by raising the probability that Ron Paul would make the better leader and went on to explain why. Her logic was spot on, her passion for America’s future vibrant. And the points she made in 2008 are even more compelling today.
If Rand Paul can bring together thoughtful people of various political backgrounds, if he can get the kind of attention he did during the 2010 Senate race in Kentucky then perhaps the press will begin to see him as more than an aberration. Whether he becomes a candidate, a nominee or merely gets a larger audience for his agenda in the Senate is yet to be seen, but one thing is clear.
Rand Paul for president isn’t an idea one should dismiss out of hand.
Regardless how his exploration turns out, at the very least he has the chance to influence the coming debate in a very significant way.
And could do even more, but first we’d have to get him to work on that tie.
Marcus Carey is a 40 year veteran of insider politics, the publisher of BluegrassBulletin.com a lawyer of 30 years, public speaker and has been a talk radio host, editorial writer and guest on a number of television programs.