I haven’t written much about Rand Paul in a while – not because I don’t like the guy, but because I feel like his most loyal endorsers are often the better sort to be writing about his current campaign. After all, those who love you most are the best voices to have in your corner when you’re trying to become the next leader of the free world. But now that Rand’s campaign looks to be coming to a forced, rousing, and highly resisted end sooner than later (though I would be happy to be wrong on that prediction), I feel there is now something more I can say about it worth listening to – even for people like myself who weren’t 100% on board with his decisions made along the way.
First and foremost, Rand Paul aligns with many of American voters’ views on the issues. He may be more staunchly right-leaning than more outwardly libertarian politicians like Gary Johnson, but his anti-establishment, anti-spying, anti-war, anti-drone, and anti-drug war message still makes him much more in-touch with the American people than any other Republican in the running for the 2016 election. The fact that his poll numbers took so long to finally bring him into the top tier (unfortunately, after his previously lower poll results already disqualified him from the most recent GOP debate stage) is likely due to the lack of support from his own party, and not that the American people in general wouldn’t have agreed with his message – they would have, had they only gotten more opportunities to hear them from his own mouth.
Ironically, now that Rand has been ousted from the debates, he has taken that opportunity to become much more prominent in the media – a rogue without a care aside from dropping the truth on as many heads as possible. He debated the host of The Daily Show on all the hot-button issues – and wasn’t booed. He flipped off the crony Republican establishment while appearing on ABC for refusing to allow his voice (which is sorely needed in the GOP) to be heard. He has overnight become a completely different kind of celebrity than we could have predicted just days ago, and he’s accomplished all of this by being an absolute maverick for the majority of his campaign. There have been some missteps, as I mentioned before, but more an initial presidential run, this man has succeeded far longer and at far more than I think anyone, even his most die hard followers, dreamed of.
This is a man who wears clothing made from hemp to work as a brilliant way of endorsing complete pot legalization without having to say a word; a man who did an honest-to-god filibuster in the name of ensuring his citizens’ safety from the president’s drone program; who took legal action to try and audit the much-too-secretive activities of the Federal Reserve; who told the entire debate stage and the leaders of his own party that they were warmongers; the list goes on. Rand Paul, despite all his flaws and misfires, has still had one of the most important presidential campaigns in U.S. history. Because unlike his father, Rand actually has a shot at becoming president someday. Not this time around, but perhaps in the near future. Already this campaign has taught me that a liberty-minded candidate can last far longer in a primary election than I ever thought possible (though I still think we need to double our chances and start taking freedom-loving Democrats more seriously, as well), and that is huge.
This impact is not illusory. Just this past debate, the first one this cycle without Rand present, saw an enormous drop in viewership. (Not-so-)coincidentally, the entire Rand Paul fan base had decided to boycott that event. In addition, what Rand Paul supporters were in attendance at the debate itself disrupted it at one point by loudly chanting the following mantra: “We want Rand! We want Rand! We want Rand!” It means that despite their best efforts, the GOP overlords failed in their attempt to silence Rand Paul’s voice, and perhaps in some ways even created a monster by trying so hard to do so. Now, everyone knows who Rand Paul is, because he chose to snub the ridiculous “undercard” debate and take his show on the road instead. All the kids who were previously unaware of Rand’s message have now heard it time and again, as Dr. Paul appeared on multiple talk shows and news programs just this past week. As a result, he has become more recognizable than ever. Even though he may not win this round, make no mistake – we have witnessed history in Rand Paul’s senate actions and his subsequent run for the presidency. It is not at all a stretch to expect an even larger supporter turnout for the real voting period, and if nothing else the next time around.
And there will be a next time. Make no mistake about that.