Rand Paul Steals The Thunder
Unlike most politicians and bureaucrats in either the Democratic Party or Republican Party, Rand Paul has achieved an uncommon victory. When Ted Cruz read Doctor Zeus on the Senate floor, he accomplished little but a few brownie points among Tea Party patriots. In the battle against domestic spying and the Patriot Act, Rand Paul achieved an effective victory by substantially forcing the Bush Era law into expiration. No other Senator or member of Congress in recent history has managed to strong-arm such a legislative victory.
Those who might have doubted Rand Paul's convictions, motives or principles have come to realize that Paul cares more about the United States constitution than what his Republican peers think of him. This scares the Republican establishment more than Ted Cruz does. Unlike Cruz, Paul has not only achieved a legislative victory, he has gained the attention of young, pragmatic and optimistic new voters. Like the 2008 version of Barack Obama, Rand Paul has generated more memes and viral outbursts than any Republican in history. His ideas are spreading across all political fields like brush fires. Both the left and the right have found something to admire in Rand Paul. This unique side affect could be just what the Republicans need to take back the White House and revolutionize their own party. More so, it could be the perfect recipe that makes Paul the only candidate fully capable of defeating Hillary Clinton...if she doesn't defeat herself before 2016. But a Paul victory poses just as much risk as opportunity for Republicans.
A stranger side affect of Rand Paul's appeal has been his growing coverage within less conservative media. What makes this more unusual is the amount of affection that has grown for Paul at CNN and MSNBC. This scenario is not only uncommon for a Republican candidate, it's uncharacteristic for left-wing media to galvanize a Republican, even if that Republican is considered to be more progressive than the rest. So what's going on?
Rand Paul is revolutionizing the Republican Party. He is taking two decades worth of left-wing media bias and turning it upside down. Republicans have complained about liberal media bias but done nothing to change the environment. Rand Paul has infiltrated the hearts and minds of more progressive voters with coherent, libertarian principles that fly in the face of the old school conservative establishment. The result: mainstream media loves it.
Rand Paul has embedded a virus inside the mainstream media. The liberal media uses Paul to attack the conservative establishment while inadvertently spreading his libertarian message. This could be an unplanned consequence of a candidate's libertarian platform, or a well planned strategy to transform an environment that has traditionally been hostile to Republicans. Whatever it is, Rand Paul is reaping the rewards and having his message shared with a wider audience than Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Paul Walker, Marco Rubio or any other Republican candidate.
With Barack Obama on his way out, there's nothing left for mainstream media to protect and, as we've seen, Hillary has failed to achieve the same darling status with the left's old friends at Time Warner. Time magazine even passed Rand Paul a bullhorn this month by publishing an op-ed from the senator entitled, Rand Paul: Don't Trust A Lying Government.
"Apologists for collecting all the phone records of all Americans all the time now belatedly say they are OK with ending the bulk collection program. They want you to know that your records are not really protected by the Fourth Amendment. They are only doing you a favor by granting you this reform." – Rand Paul, Time
Rand Paul called out the Supreme Court Justices making the argument that phone records do not fall under the protection of the Fourth Amendment and Time magazine gave him the platform to do it.
Time magazine earlier published a negative cover featuring Hillary Clinton with subtle horns appearing on her head inside the grooves of the cover's M.
Of course, not all of the left-wing media sources are giving Rand Paul an opportunity. Strangely, the many left-wing establishments that opposed the Patriot Act when George W. Bush was president have come out swinging in defense of the act against Rand Paul. But the left leaning Washington Post managed to acknowledge the benefits of libertarianism while criticizing Paul in a piece called, Rand Paul's Dark Vision.
"At its best, libertarianism is a cheerful, optimistic approach to politics, brimming with confidence about what men and women can achieve when left to their own devices, and, accordingly, with fresh ideas about how to meet social goals through individual initiative and free markets." – Charles Lane, Washington Post
Many will still criticize and dash any prospect of giving Paul the benefit of the doubt just because he's a Republican, but if they manage to grasp the ideals of libertarianism and spread Paul's message while doing it, America will continue to benefit as a whole.
Over at the conservative Daily Caller, senior editor, Jamie Weinstein tore into Rand Paul, calling him a wannabe presidential candidate who turned himself into a weak "message candidate" like his father. According to Weinstein, Paul's filibuster and opposition to the Patriot Act's renewal has destroyed any chances he had to be president or to win the GOP nomination. Weinstein also took to criticizing MSNBC's Chris Matthews for saying that Paul had the best chance of winning the nomination because he could win Iowa and New Hampshire.
"Paul's attempt to go mainstream may have worked for a time, but it is a much harder task for the instinctually non-interventionist Kentucky senator to pull off when threats to American security dominate news cycles." – Jaimie Weinstein, Daily Caller
Weinstein does make a good point. Many conservative media organizations have attempted to discount Paul because of his opposition to national security measures while the more left leaning organizations have warmed to him. But all of this could pass and fade out of people's memories by the time Iowa and New Hampshire come together to cast their votes in caucuses and primaries. Paul's ideals could still resonate with the more youthful wing of the GOP while the older crowd embraces Paul's stance on small government, low taxes and non-interventionist economic policies.
There is no doubt that national security and the rise of ISIS could damage Paul's chances of winning the GOP nomination. Most polls put him within 1-3% behind Hillary Clinton in the general election, making him the most likely GOP candidate to beat Clinton. However, Republican voters may put their focus on national security instead of a candidate with the best chance of beating Hillary in 2016. Whether Rand Paul has the best chance against Hillary or not, that may not matter in the event of another significant terror threat or incident on American soil or elsewhere.
In the event of a high profile terror event – in America or not – Rand Paul's idealism could pose the biggest threat to his hopes of winning the GOP nomination. If this becomes the case, we can expect the less establishment oriented Republican voters and Tea Party patriots to gravitate toward Ted Cruz. If Rand Paul does win the GOP nomination, a later terror event could give the White House to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
A Rand Paul victory poses as much of a risk as it does opportunity for the Republican Party in 2016. Although the senator has paved a new path and stolen the thunder from other candidates, he'll need to keep his momentum and hope that security threats don't arise along the way. Even after winning the nomination, Paul would need to see a decline in international terrorism if spying and privacy remain priorities in his platform. In any such case, Hillary Clinton's Bush-like policies could shine as a beacon of comfort for most Americans. With Jeb Bush also set to officially kick-start his presidential journey this month, we could see a major shift in media attention by July.