There’s simply too much riding on the 2016 Presidential election to be intimidated by its vast field of candidates. So in the spirit of true post-partisanship, the Weeklings has decided to help America vote right. Over the course of this 8-part series kicking off with the Iowa Caucuses and running through the New Hampshire primary, we break down our favorite Republican contenders, and tell you exactly who’s worth pulling the lever for.
Forget tired political allegiances–aside from Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul may be the only candidate in either party who truly says what he believes, not what he believes you want him to say. It’s an important distinction. Like Sanders, this makes Paul both valuable and dangerous. As well as refreshingly unpredictable. Voicing your true opinion regardless of personal risk or political expediency is an attribute valued above all others in movies and novels of every stripe, but is rarely tolerated in politicians. Mainly because principled stances often appear principled only in retrospect–in real time they tend to seem dangerous or even deluded. Senator Paul has taken numerous lone wolf positions– adamantly for drone strike oversight and privacy reform, against bulk collection of email and mandatory minimums. He once filibustered in a (symbolic) attempt to force the Obama administration to repudiate the possibility (it’s coming, and soon) of drone usage against US citizens within our own borders. He’s also one of a handful of Republicans to repeatedly vote against the most noxious provisions in the Patriot Act, in particular extra-judicial wiretapping. For those stances alone, Senator Paul is vastly superior to candidates like Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum, whose only genuinely held policy beliefs come from the New Testament, and even then only after drawing solid numbers in focus groups.
On the other hand, Rand Paul is named after noted humanist, best-selling author, and former lover of Alan Greenspan–Ms. Ayn Rand. The family has long denied it, but even die-hard Objectivists chuckle at the objection. Senator Paul is also saddled with some of his father’s (former Libertarian congressman Ron Paul, TX) more outre ideas, like returning to the gold standard and disbanding the Fed, not to mention a taste for regressive cultural opinions (in some circles known as blatant racism). Does Rand Paul secretly share the views of his father, or, like many chagrined sons, has he attempted to weather generational ignorance while choosing to quietly evolve? Is the Paul isolationist slant really about the wrongness of military interventionism? Or is it a convenient front for riding out the apocalypse in a secret mountain lair with Hank Rearden?
In any case, an inherited Libertarian vein of contrariness may be a fine, and in fact necessary, quality for a President doomed to face crippling opposition no matter what policy he espouses. A truly viable Republican candidate in 2016 might have to be so aggressively odd and intellectually bold that they’re able to convince both Washington and the national media to halt the cycle of party-baiting and institutional stasis to finally take action. Some action. Any action. Parliamentary games, government shutdowns, and procedural tantrums will no longer cut it. America needs someone who will terrify the dimwitted, fearful, and entrenched on both sides with solutions so forward-thinking that they’re impossible to demonize until there’s at least five years of data to prove they even make sense in the first place.
Here’s the problem with Paul’s quasi-Libertarianism: it’s a grueling political philosophy to espouse outside certain remote compounds and paramilitary training facilities, because by its very contrarian nature demands that its precepts be taken to their logical ends. In other words, it’s fine while reading The Fountainhead aloud to your infant daughter to insist on things like repealing the Americans With Disabilities Act and privatizing fire departments, but it’s something else entirely to expand the notion of unfettered individual rights to policies like, say, legal prostitution. Or assisted suicide booths in strip malls. If the government can’t tell you what to do with your body, how can there be any limits on abortion at all? Also, of course, that means every drug should be cheap and easily available, twenty-four hours a day. It’s rare that a Libertarian candidate, even on the local level, is willing to champion their ideology on anything but an a la carte basis. Which, of course, makes it as useless as any other set of principles.
Listen, anything would be better than four more years of inertia. Would a single term of Rand Paul really be the worst thing in the world? Would a Paul/Galt ticket inspire the masses? Is it even possible to elect a Kentucky ophthalmologist with a bad wig, pouty lips, and a tendency to quote from books beloved by a generation of mulleted loners and aggrieved dropouts? Maybe not, but it says here that the Libertarians deserve a chance for once. Hey, what has a Republican or Democrat done for you lately? At least it won’t be the same tired Cut Taxes/Deregulate Wall Street/No Contraception mantra the Right has been flogging since Barry Goldwater, but with even less electoral and practical success.
On the other hand, does it even matter who we elect, since by 2020 Malia Direction (Malia Obama after marrying Whatever Guy From One Direction) will be our first female president?
Until that inevitability, there’s really a very convincing statistical argument to be made that Rand Paul is the Right Vote for The Right, at least for those of us who have come to believe that repetition is death.