This small party was one of his many stops on his campaign trail, and I was lucky enough to be one of those invited to actually meet the man. I make it no secret that I am a huge fan the guy, as his beliefs fall in line with mine quite a bit. While we all want to see a break from big government and a return to liberty, Paul seems like one of the few out there to actually want to put pedal to metal, and not just drive Mrs. Daisy.
Speaking of Mrs. Daisy, Paul gave a short speech at the party, and during it he mentioned that one of the main goals of Republicans today is to beat Hillary.
He’s correct, but in regard to every Republican but him.
Paul has a steady habit of leading Hillary Clinton in polls, or at least being a serious contender, and has had been one for some time. I think it’s safe to say that Clinton cannot contend with Paul in a one-on-one. His following isn’t just libertarians and conservatives, it also includes a good piece of the voting population that Clinton would rightfully assume is hers.
There is a chunk of liberal Democrats who are looking forward to voting for Paul, and for a good reason. He’s got all the contrasts from typical Republican-thought that Democrats like, and none of the social restrictions that they don’t. Meanwhile, Hillary has proven herself to be an authoritarian, along with being hollow and opportunistic to boot.
Paul has been straightforward about his hands-off positions from the get-go. He’s an easy candidate to get behind and follow, and thus Hillary is being abandoned by her own in favor of Paul. That explains why he does so well against her in general election match-up polling.
Regardless, Paul is falling behind in primary polling. While there has been speculation as to why, I have some theories of my own – the rise of Donald Trump being one of them.
Trump’s anti-establishment showboating and constant media coverage has captured the attention of many an onlooker, and he has seduced a good portion of them into thinking he’s the man who can take us away from the business-as-usual atmosphere. It doesn’t matter that Trump’s policies are different from Rand’s, he’s seen as an “outsider.”
But this outsider throne is one that rightfully belongs to Rand, and I think it will return to him in time. While Trump is stealing Paul’s thunder right now, he is burning bright too early. As the election debates go on, Trump’s star will fade, partly due to the law of undulation, but most likely due to the same reason conservatives are singing his praises now – his inability to keep his mouth shut. At some point, Trump will cross the line, and it will cost him.
Eventually, those wayward anti-establishment supporters will return to Paul’s camp and put more meat into his voting base, increasing his poll numbers and invigorating his currently demoralized campaign. My advice to Paul and his staff is just to simply weather this particular storm.
But Paul does have a problem that he should address directly, and that is one of Bernie Sanders.
While there is a stark difference between Paul and Clinton, the Kentucky Senator and Sanders are often indistinguishable from one another. You can play “Who Said It?” with a lot of their talk on civil liberties, foreign affairs, ISIS, and Obama’s authority, and have a challenging time of it. Their major differences come in the form of their economic policies. Paul is the flat tax, limited government libertarian, and Bernie is the tax-the-rich at 90% super-socialist.
They are two very similar men who couldn’t be any more different from each other, and it’s because of this that the leftists who want the social freedom that the Republican’s radical anti-establishment candidate was willing to provide now have a radical anti-establishment candidate of their own.
During the house party, when Rand was taking questions, I brought this point up to him and upon mentioning Bernie’s attractiveness to the leftists who would have gladly voted for Paul, I couldn’t help but turn and look at Ron who was standing in the back of the room, when I mentioned the oddity of it all. In fact, to the Pauls, it seemed too odd to be true.
Rand’s response was skeptical, and understandably so. Sanders doesn’t get a lot of coverage from the media. His staff doesn’t spend too much time outside right-wing circles where you often see libertarian/leftist debates rage on. On the political spectrum, Sanders is so far left to Rand that you’d have a hard time drawing comparisons at a glance.
Rand expressed his disdain for socialism, and focused wholly on the economic positions of Sanders as he answered me.
But Sanders is a dark horse, just like Rand. Both support civil and social freedom that is attractive to voters, but only Rand is supporting a level of freedom that goes further than Sanders would ever dare to. Economic policy for Sanders looks like punishing corporations and the rich into obeying the government. Meanwhile, Rand actually wants to change tax law to make them want to cooperate willingly. These little economic differences signal very different ideas and methods of achieving them that many would-be voters either don’t know about or haven’t considered.
Because of this ignorance, Sanders is cutting into support that Rand Paul would otherwise have. His social libertarianism is being shared by an economic socialist, and those who love shouting “tax the rich” and “we are the 99%” won’t follow Paul so long as Bernie Sanders is offering to stick it to the man and spread the wealth garnered by the wealthier among us, and they will do what they can to convince the more moderate among them to do the same.
These people like Rand Paul because he is strongly against crony capitalism – especially more so than Clinton – but Bernie goes a step further. It’s why Rand wins with these people in a general election match-up against Hillary, but is losing these supporters to Bernie on the primary level.
Even though Rand and Bernie have very different economic ideas, the ultimate fact is Sanders has no chance of winning the Presidency. The Clinton machine is too eclipsing of the admittedly grassroots following of Sanders. Paul, despite his campaign’s recent valley, has the capability of peaking into serious contender territory.
In order for that to become a reality, Paul would do well to put less focus on Clinton, and begin the process of recovering the support that is currently looking to Sanders. Paul’s simplistic views and realistic plans can be easily explained. The details and nuances would be an exciting thing to flesh out. What’s more, they would have a lot more substance than Sanders’ wishes to tax the rich, and return to extremely high rates not seen since the 1950s.
The distinguishing factor between Sanders and Paul is a simple one – higher taxes vs flat taxes. Everyone wants to be wealthy if possible, but that kind of success will be much harder to attain if Sanders is elected. Rand needs to put this message out to those libertarians who are currently being fooled by Sanders’ rhetoric. If he does, a spike in the polls is very likely to follow, and Paul’s campaign will receive that very needed shot in the arm.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, Brandon Morse has been writing about politics and culture across many websites for the last six years, with a heavy emphasis on anti-authoritarianism. Aside from writing articles, he is also known for voice acting and authoring scripts. He is an avid gamer, dog person, and has a bad habit of making vague references to things no one has heard about or seen. Follow him at @TheBrandonMorse on Twitter.
EveryJoe columnist Corie Whalen Stephens also contributed to this piece.
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