Skunk at the Garden Party
Posted on May 19, 2010
Rand Paul’s election may very well mean the beginning of the end of the neo-conservative movement in the Republican Party. It also might mark the beginning of the end of the social conservative wing of the Republican Party.
During the nomination process of the Presidential election two years ago, I wrote about the impact of the Ron Paul insurgency and its potential impact. Paul was a fundraising sensation, and he had a cadre of committed followers who believed profoundly that the Federal Government had grown too big, had become too intrusive, had gone to war for all the wrong reasons, and was too involved in the daily lives of the American people.
Paul went after some pretty significant sacred cows in the Republican orthodoxy. He thought the Iraq War was stupid, and that our foreign policy presence in the Middle East was a big reason why we were attacked on 9/11. He thinks that the war on drugs is a waste of time, and that if people want to smoke pot, well, that is up to them. He thinks that the security apparatus of the United States makes America more of a police state and should be down-sized dramatically.
Two years ago, those were not popular stances to take with conservative Republican primary voters who were used to the political rhetoric of George Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.
But that has all changed, at least in Kentucky. My suspicion, though, is that this changing sentiment is spreading around the country.
There has always been the myth of the freedom voter. Those are the voters who want low taxes and government out of their lives. Grover Norquist calls these voters the “Leave me alone” caucus. But the leave-me-aloners are often outvoted in Republican primaries by the neo-cons -- who think that big government should have a role in our daily lives-- the social conservatives – who think that government needs to have a role in dictating morality in our lives, and national security conservatives – who think that it is well worth it to sacrifice some freedoms so that we can remain safe.
Ron Paul, and now Rand Paul, challenge each and every one of those assumptions. Ron Paul used to quietly challenge them from the safety of the House of Representatives, where one vote is rarely critical to the passage of anything.
Rand Paul, should he get elected to the upper body, will have far more power to fight for Paulism in that Chamber.
Rand Paul will be more than the skunk at the garden party in the United States Senate. He will be a subversive when it comes to critical Republican orthodoxies. He represents a profound threat to the neo-cons and the social conservatives because he is willing to fight for the belief that the federal government should truly stay out of the lives of the American people.
The voters in Kentucky found this message so appealing that they gave Paul a huge primary victory last night. We will see if the American people, who are so insistent publicly that they want their freedoms back, are really willing to sacrifice some security for their liberty.