Rand Paul Needs to #StandWithRand

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Fri, Aug 7 - 7:00 am EDT | 3 years ago by
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Urbanski on the Campaign Trail ’16: Rand Paul Needs to Fire his Handlers

Did you watch them? The first debates of the campaign season, more than a year before the actual election. It’s game on!

First, there was the kiddie-table debates, which were just precious.

But then it was time to let the big people talk, except someone brought their pet orangutan with them too. As predicted, he mostly crapped himself all over the table while making a lot of irritating noise.

Sadly, I don’t think Donald Trump was the big loser of the night. That was John Kasich (who no one ever heard of until the debate, and no one will really give a damn about after, except to wonder why Grandpa wasn’t put on the kiddie table). He’s the Mr. Rogers of the presidential field (seriously, Kasich’s only selling point is that he’s as religious as Santorum or Huckabee but less of an asshole about it). He seems nice enough but you fall asleep after watching him for more than fifteen minutes.

But right behind Kasich was, I’m sad to say, Rand Paul.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Yeah, Paul. The guy I think should be President. The one guy who could change the Republican Party, change the face of American Conservatism and redefine the entire political culture. And he just didn’t pull it off.

He pleased no one. The problem is everyone knows Paul is a libertarian (even if he’s not completely libertarian). He’s more of an outsider on that stage than Ben Carson, in spite of Paul being an actual Senator while Carson is a guy who wasn’t even a Republican until nine months ago. In some ways, he’s more of an outsider than Magilla Gorilla even though Millionaire-Alf gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Clintons.

Donald Trump - Alf
Source: Donald J Dump

Rand Paul needs to fire his managers. Today. They’re screwing him. First and foremost because apparently nobody told him the simple truth: no one on that stage is going to like you, probably no one in that auditorium that you didn’t bring yourself. That’s not who you need to convince.

Second, for having agreed to the insane terms of the debates in the first place, because it’s pretty clear Fox News doesn’t like Paul either. And why should they, after all? He’s not their boy. He’s not in favor of big corporations engaging in government collusion. Libertarians are a menace to business as usual. Fox wants someone like Jeb Bush – or for that matter Hillary Clinton – someone who will keep the bloated big-government welfare state (including corporate welfare and special favoritism) exactly the way it is. Do you think they care? They just want business as usual, and they’re scared that there’s a tiny sliver of a chance Rand Paul wouldn’t give them that. They don’t want to help anyone who might actually mean what they say when they promise to change big government, and they were pretty sure Rand was the one guy who is likely to talk the talk.

That’s why Rand Paul was given significantly less airtime than any other candidate in the second debate. Even Ben Carson, who got to talk so little that he grumpily quipped about it, got more time than Paul. The reality TV baboon got more than twice as much time, but of course he’s the circus-sideshow so it hardly counts. More tellingly, Jeb Bush, who is exactly the sort of person Big-Business America wants to see lose to Hillary Clinton (and who’s politics are basically indistinguishable from hers, up to and including both running for President because they feel like it’s rightfully “their turn”) also got close to twice as much. If Paul hadn’t jumped in a couple of times to interrupt, his airtime would have been even less.

That’s also why all the (tiny amount of) questions they directed at Paul were never meant to play at his strengths (like the softballs they pitched at Bush or Scott Walker), but rather to try to catch him out on the issues of ISIS and Israel, knowing that Republicans are more afraid of his anti-interventionist stance than anything else about him. It would be hard to look honestly at the debate and pretend that Fox wasn’t playing favorites and trying to sink the guy they don’t want.

In spite of everything, Paul showed a few shining moments. He was the only one to have the guts to stand up to Honey Boo-Boo when the latter openly made it clear he’d betray the party and try to hand over the election to Hillary without a second thought if he doesn’t get what he wants. He managed to point out (right at the end) that he stood up in a filibuster for hours to protect everyone’s rights against big government. And in maybe his clearest libertarian moment, he did manage to say that he’s against the federal government registering either our guns or our marriages. He also asked one of the most memorable questions of the debate: why should the U.S. keep sending millions of dollars it doesn’t have to countries that hate it?

But it just wasn’t enough. And it seemed very clear to me that the problem was his advisers have told him that he should tone down the libertarian stuff, instead of standing up for it. The end result was a weak mixed-message.

Yes, he needs to win the primaries. And yes, that can be hard if he sticks to his guns. But the type of talk he showed tonight is going to leave the faithful in doubt, and still won’t win over anyone on the hardcore social-conservative or neo-con military-hawk side.

And libertarians? You’re not doing Paul any favors by wearing rose-colored glasses about this debate. Reason.com already declared him the winner, but I don’t think anyone who doesn’t already love Rand blindly will see it that way.

His answer on foreign policy needed to be unapologetic, and it wasn’t. He needs to say, “Why should we bankrupt our country fighting other people’s wars for them?” He should have made it very clear that it was the fault of Jeb Bush’s big brother that ISIS ended up taking over half the Middle East, AND that Obama’s intervention has done nothing to fix it. He needed to be much tougher at hammering home the message that he’s the guy who most stands for the principles of personal liberty, personal rights, and personal freedom.

Most of all, his relatively weak “I’m a different kind of candidate” slogan is so bland and blase that whoever came up with it for him should probably never be allowed to work in a campaign again. His final speech wasn’t even wrong, it was just so soft he may as well not have bothered. What he SHOULD have said in those last thirty seconds is something like: “I know I won’t be the favorite of a lot of you here. I know many of you may agree with some of my positions and disagree with others. I know you might think you have more in common with what some of the other people on this stage are saying. But you can be sure of three things. First, I actually believe in everything I say and I’ve proved it. Second, what I believe in most of all is that no one else, especially big government, should get to tell you how to run your life. And third, even if you like some of these other guys more, I’m the ONLY guy standing here who can actually beat Hillary Clinton in the general election according to every poll. You might like another candidate more than me, but that won’t help you much if the end result is four years of Hillary.”

I like Rand Paul. I think he’s the best candidate in the running. And he would be a polar shift in American politics if he can just get himself on the ticket. But that won’t happen if Paul doesn’t get fighting fit with a team that won’t be afraid to SHOW us, and not just meekly tell us, that he’s a different kind of candidate.

Kasimir Urbanski doesn’t write on a specific subject; he’s EveryJoe’s resident maniac-at-large. A recovering Humanities academic and world-traveler, he now lives in South America and is a researcher of fringe religion, eastern philosophy, and esoteric consciousness-expansion. In his spare time he writes tabletop RPGs, and blogs about them at therpgpundit.blogspot.com.

Click through the gallery below to see where Rand Paul and some of the other GOP candidates stand on the issues Americans care about.

Donald Trump

Learn more about where Donald Trump stands on the issues.

Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

Ben Carson

Learn more about where Ben Carson stands on the issues.

Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images

Ted Cruz

Learn more about where Ted Cruz stands on the issues.

Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

Marco Rubio

Learn more about where Marco Rubio stands on the issues.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Scott Walker

Learn more about where Scott Walker stands on the issues.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Jeb Bush

Learn more about where Jeb Bush stands on the issues.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Rand Paul

Learn more about where Rand Paul stands on the issues.

Photo by Gerry Hanan/Getty Images for SXSW

Mike Huckabee

Learn more about where Mike Huckabee stands on the issues.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Carly Fiorina

Learn more about where Carly Fiorina stands on the issues.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
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