Rand Paul

Did Rand Paul Change the Republican Party for the Better in 36 Hours?


Grace Wyler at Business Insider, who has been great on the Ron Paul/Rand Paul/libertarians in the GOP beat for a long time, reports on what Rand Paul might have done to change the GOP for the libertarian better with his filibuster. The story quotes me a bit. 


For libertarians, Paul's filibuster — and the groundswell of support for it across the conservative spectrum —was a crowning moment, signaling their reintegration into the mainstream Republican Party…

"This was a very big deal. In 36 hours, the Republican Party has completely changed," said Brian Doherty, a senior editor at Reason magazine who has been covering the Paul movement for two decades.

"You literally saw the shift happen over the course of the day," Doherty said. "It started with Rand Paul, and then it was just [Sens.] Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. And then you had people like Marco Rubio and Saxby Chambliss joining in. And by the end of it, [Republican Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell was on the floor saying he was going to block [CIA Director John] Brennan's confirmation, and [RNC Chairman] Reince Priebus was tweeting that Senators should go join Rand Paul."

"Who knows, maybe in two years, the filibuster won't seem like a big deal," he added. "But today, it feels like everything has changed. Today, it feels like the Republican Party is different." 

Doherty conceded that, for some conservatives, the embrace of Paul's civil liberties argument may be chalked up to antagonism toward the Obama administration. But, he added, "if that's what it takes to get Rush Limbaugh to say that he agrees with Rand Paul, that he's open to these ideas, I'll take it." 

Wyler quotes me accurately, as far as I remember, and captures a moment of great excitement that, like many moments of great excitement, may fade. We need to see how or if Paul's constitutional libertarianism keeps up respect and momentum in the next weeks, months, and years.

I'll be returning with a bit more perspective behind us next week here at Reason with more thoughts on what the filibuster and reaction to the filibuster might mean for libertarian ideas about civil liberties and foreign policy in the Republican Party–and the nation.

Wyler tells of how the pugnacious antiwar libertarian, and huge fan of Ron Paul, Justin Raimondo had his mistrust of Rand turned around over the course of the filibuster. I blogged last month about how Raimondo and others from the antiwar right and libertarian movements were angry at Rand Paul for helping filibuster Chuch Hagel's nomination for defense secretary, though Paul did end up voting for him.

Wyler gets some Paul staffers on the record about Paul's goals with the filibuster:

According to Paul aides and confidantes, the goal of his filibuster was always to introduce ideas about civil liberties back into the Republican discourse.

"Rand has always said that he wanted to be a leader on the message of the Republican Party, and that means talking about old ideas that were part of the party's original message, and introducing new ideas that might help the party broaden its appeal to groups that may have been left out of the conversation," Doug Stafford, Paul's Senate chief of staff, told Business Insider

"Rand is one of the only people who can speak to libertarians, social conservatives, as well as your average mainstream Republican voter." 

Jesse Benton, the controversial former Ron Paul campaign leader and now Mitch McConnell staffer, told Wyler that McConnell joined Paul because "he was legitimately emotionally moved by it."

Wyler interviewed me last May about my book Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.

I wrote around a month ago for the New York Times on the growing importance of Rand Paul and likeminded colleagues in the GOP, and didn't know how right that would seem, so soon.

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  1. Did Rand Paul Change the Republican Party for the Better in 36 Hours?

    No, but he revealed the faultlines that have existed in the conservative movement for some time — and which have only recently manifested politically, after a long period of dormancy between the Clinton impeachment and the rise of the Tea Parties.

    1. Rand Paul revealed also how easy it is to dupe rightwingers with a little grandstanding.

      1. Re: Domestic Reagent,

        Because, you see, Barry really doesn’t want to kill you!


        1. Tut tut, Old Mex. He doesn’t even know my name. I’m not so sure, however, about some lawyers (all toxic) who used to work at his wife’s law firm.

    2. I should have added that the Tea Parties are Fascistic, which is just what leftists told us years ago.

      Think of a caricature: A flagwaving old crank arrives in a Hoveround paid for by a governmental program. He nods in approval when some parrotlike speaker says in one breath that the troops should be supported no matter what and, in the next breath, that Social Security needs to be protected. And “in God we trust!” Nearly all the other graying and mostly white heads share his agreement.

      Nevermind any rhetoric about free markets that you hear at a Tea Party. That’s just a dog treat for libernuttians from self-righteous Fascists who crave to hear the sound of their own voices. Militarism, you see, commits the Tea Party to the primary engine of crony capitalism itself.

      No doubt most Tea Partiers like the symbolism found near the bottom of the seal of the US Senate. The fasces appear also on Lincoln’s chair at the Lincoln Memorial, although the axes are not readily apparent. Anyone with a little imagination need not be told why that is.

  2. like Philip responded I’m dazzled that any body can earn $8931 in 1 month on the computer. have you read this website… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diP-o_JxysA

    1. Can we dronestrike the spambots?

      1. The constitution says “persons”. So the question are:
        are spambots persons?
        are they an iminent threat?
        are they unpopular?

        1. Since the spambots are little more than scout teams for the Terminators, I say we eliminate them with extreme prejudice.

          1. We will not reason (drink!) with them nor show them pity or remorse, and we absolutely will not stop until they are all dead.

  3. Rand’s comments led a few old-guard Repubs to reveal themselves as conservatives in name only. Let’s not forget that Rand’s stance on the drone issue is itself very much in the minority in DC, irrespective of party.

    1. I don’t know anything about Arizona: Why do they keep electing John McCain?

      1. Because he’s been Senator for longer than anyone can remember and his primary challengers so far have been buffoons and nuts.

        Shadegg would be a good choice to primary McCain.

        1. “his primary challengers so far have been buffoons and nuts.”

          So is John McCain.

          1. Better the devil you know…

            1. not really

            2. With the one I don’t know, there is still a slight chance that I misjudged.

          2. Not saying that I disagree, but buffoonery of the primary candidates tends to cancel out and leave McCain with a cash and name recognition advantage.

            1. Yeah, it’s the same reason most people vote for anyone. Slighty less slimey than the other guy.

      2. He’s a hero, because he killed dusky people in distant countries.

        1. He’s a hero, because he killed dusky people in distant countries.

          He’s a hero, because he killed dusky people in distant countries…..a superhero…a member of the Ambiguously Gay Duo….The Pheeb and the Phag!

          1. Get off my lawn!

            /John McCain

      3. For the same reason that MA kept electing Kennedy – name recognition.

      4. Because the senile Sun City “keep your government hands off my medicare” demographic would vote for Karl Marx if he ran as a Republican and made noises about illegal immigration.

        1. In favor? Because, McCain…

  4. I find it fairly humorous to see libertarians getting all giddy about Paul’s filibuster as if something has or will change in the political landscape.

    1. And Paul didn’t even get a “no dronestrike” guarantee, just different weasel words. Yay.

      1. four out of five weasels oppose drones; then there’s Henry Waxman.

      2. The weasel words don’t matter so long as everyone believes that these weasel words are a “no dronestrike” guarantee.

        Rand Paul is treating it that way, and so is everyone else. Let Obama’s legal administration be petty: in the event that there is a dronestrike on US soil, no one but the Obamabots will say “well those weasel words mean Obama didn’t lie”, and the Obamabots would have said that even if Obama was caught sacrificing a child to Moloch on the Washington Mall.

        1. It’s not a nice thing to say, but really, I hope that the first drone strike on US soil takes out a few family members of the Obamabots as acceptable collateral damage.

          Would that teach them anything? I really don’t know. I’m not optimistic that it would.

    2. This. We’re libertarians, Doherty. We’ll be back at the little kids’ table trying to sneak bourbon into the eggnog within a month.

      1. Speak for yourself.

        [huffs bag full of model glue]

        1. [huffs bag full of model glue]

          They make glue out of Kate Upton? Eeeeewwwww.

          1. Actually I would totally buy that glue.

            1. But then you hand would be stuck to your dick.

              1. Wouldn’t need to leave it, now would it?

            2. I want the icecream made from that fatty’s jugs.

              1. This is why there are no….

    3. We have got to get that sand out of your vagina, Sparky.

    4. That’s some pretty potent masochism, there. Rand Paul’s filibuster is one of the greatest libertarian achievements in recent times. As for me: I’ll be enjoying the fallout while it lasts.

  5. For libertarians, Pauls filibuster… was a crowning moment, signaling their reintegration into the mainstream Republican Party

    Not for this libertarian, it wasn’t. It’s shit like this that forces me to explain to progressives, when they learn my political bent, “No, that doesn’t mean I like Republicans.”

    Also: what Sparky said.

  6. I applaud Rand Paul’s courage, but did he inspire the nation as whole or did he just energize the conservative base licking their wounds and searching for their candidate in 2016?

    The GOP is desperate to be IN with the Latino crowd now. IF (a big if) Obamacare crashes and burns and some Latinos are willing to defect, they’ll probably vote for Marco Rubio. The GOP will tout Rubio’s efforts on amnesty and emphasize that they’re not all white.

    I’m also wary of Rand’s dad’s fanatics who will insist Rand run just like his dad, which is like saying they want him to lose. They already branded him a traitor. Seriously, go away.

    1. Inspire the nation? Most of the comments I’ve heard anywhere are calling him an attention whoring kook.

      1. To be fair to Rand, from many this is probably an indictment of politicians in general and not just conservatives or libertarians. Many people at this point believe that all politics is just a giant dog and pony show. It doesn’t really matter what the pols are saying, they’re going to end up doing whatever they want anyway. Thirteen-hour-long filibuster sessions are just political posturing.

      2. Yeah, visit most comment boards and they are branding him a grandstanding nut who made a big deal of something they all somehow know Obama would never be involved in.

        Fuck I can’t stand TEAM lap dogs.

      3. Maybe you should check somewhere besides Gawker and HuffPo…

  7. Change? No

    More like it was a major victory in the ongoing Republican civil war, it was not however a decisive battle nor will there be such a battle before 2016.

  8. It all comes down to this, If the GOP wants to be relevant again, they cannot do it by either trying to ‘sell’ the status quo better, or by becoming more Blue Team lite than they already are. What they have to do is:

    Drop the SoCon nonsense. Come out 100% anti-WOD and stop the hard line immigration stance, and anti-gay stance.

    Return to a sensible foreign policy of non-intervention.

    Become the real party of smaller, more sensible government, economic liberty, and civil liberty.

    IOW, become a lot more Libertarian. Even the smarter among the old school neocons, like Charles Krauthammer have been saying this. The geriatric old fools like McCain and his ilk have to go, they are destroying the GOP, and paving the way for total rule by the progressives. And we all know where that is headed.

    1. So basically there’s no hope

    2. McCain really reminds me of that Simpsons spoof old man yelling at clouds. I am ashamed to admit I voted for him.

    3. But then they wouldn’t be Republicans.

    4. Mccain was big on amnesty, and he didn’t win any votes from the other side. Changing their minds about gay marriage won’t really help either. You would have to get enough voters to replace some Social conservatives who will leave, and that’s not likely.

      If the GOP entered full on libertarian mode, they would have only increased their appeal to the same mostly white, center right voting bloc.

      The only question (literally) that matters is, are non whites and immigrants open to limited government? If not, then the GOP has incentive to become LESS libertarian by increasing entitlement spending. “Compassionate conservatism” won 35-40% of the Latino vote.

    5. the GOP’s stance is hardline on immigration? Holy crap, what’s soft? Shooting yourself in the head after sending the deed to your house to a random Mexican?

  9. I thought it was decided that the Washington Post was to be given credit for any hope and change on this matter?

  10. I can understand the Kathleen Parker/Jennifer Rubin wing of the Republican party being simply aghast that Rand Paul would dare to step out of line (he’s from Kentucky for Gawd’s sake!) but I don’t get Libertarian’s beef. The man stood up for liberty and some of you act like he spent thirteen hours begging for an expansion of the school lunch program. Perfect? No. But damned better than we are used to seeing in a politican.

    Bonus point-he goaded McCain into showing himself for the petrified wormwood that he is.

    1. I don’t recall libertarians having any “beef” with it? At least not here, we’ve all been defending him vigorously, even though we don’t believe this is a sea change per se.

    2. McCain and company revealing their slimy innards may have been one of the best results of the filibuster.

      Why do libertarians want to be part of the Republican party? Unless the idea is to get elected as Republicans, take over the party, and change the name and platform… Otherwise, just let it die the death of a thousand self-inflicted cuts like it should have a long time ago.

      1. “Unless the idea is to get elected as Republicans, take over the party, and change the name and platform”

        I think that’s a pretty good reason. Rand Paul’s success case in point.

      2. I think this is the only way for libertarian’s to succeed on a POTUS scale. Third parties are just a non-start in this country for the executive branch.

        Even congress is a long shot to get a legitimate number of third party candidates in office.

      3. It took an intensifying national crack-up for the Republicans to replace the Whigs. I don’t see anything in the current atmosphere resembling the debate over slavery. Barring that, it’s probably better to work within the GOP, no matter how annoying that might be.

        The GOP has to start picking off voters who went for the Democrats in 2006, 2008 and 2012. What the filibuster showed is that the Democrats have vulnerabilities. When the WashPost sides with a Republican over Saint Obama, it’s significant.

        There are two feasible choices for the GOP: either become Democrat-lite or embrace some libertarian ideas and become an actual alternative.

  11. The filibuster was a “you shall not pass” kind of a moment. Right now Paul (as Gandalf) and the SoCons (as the Balrog) are locked in a battle to death as they free fall into the abyss. Eventually the Balrog will die, Paul will be reborn and we’re all be sitting on a pile of treasure smoking the finest pipe-weed.

    1. oh shit, i forgot about the “Eye” (as the Progressives). Turns we’ll all be murdered in our sleep by Orcs.

  12. One battle down one zillion more to go although I do tend to agree with most people that a great number of libertarians tend to focus on the sexual and drug usage freedoms more so than anything else. I would suggest getting the FED and the IRS under control is much more important than same sex antics.

    1. Control over our human body is pretty damn fundamental to libertarian principles. Caring about these things and caring about the macroeconomic manglings aren’t mutually exclusive.

      It’s ok for different libertarians to have different emphases because we need to court and evangelize to a variety of audiences, from far right to moderate to far left, on a variety of topics. Pointing out the logical inconsistencies on the left between their pot/sexuality views and their nanny statism on sodas, food and tobacco is one way of trying to break their illogic and get them to change.

  13. Rand Mutherfuckin’ Paul!

  14. Pardon my skepticism – I’ll believe a real change when I see it enacted as the majority. For now, I’ll presume that (in the case of most of these politicians besides Rand and Lee) this is just political posturing from a minority perspective. Libertarianism is always useful for a minority party to use against the party in power, but becomes “radical” and “impractical” when the same part is in charge.

  15. “Did Rand Paul Change the Republican Party for the Better in 36 Hours?”

    We can only dream.

  16. Only if Republican primary-goers keep electing foreign policy libertarians, which they very well might. Whether Rand Paul types can win a majority in government is another matter.

    1. “Keep” electing foreign-policy libertarians in the primaries? Exactly when did the GOP start doing that?

      Rand Paul is essentially attempting to resurrect the Old Right, which is similar to modern libertarianism but not exactly the same. Close enough for government work, I suppose.

      1. ^^this^^

        I have a devil of a time getting some paleos to understand that Ronald Reagan is long gone, and the Neos and Evangelicals absconded with his party decades ago.

  17. “Who knows, maybe in two years, the filibuster won’t seem like a big deal,”

    The filibuster is never a big deal – until your party has the presidency.

  18. There’s a nice big middle ground between “the filibuster was meaningless” and “it completely changed the Republican Party.” The truth is obviously somewhere in between.

    What is more certain is that it elevated Rand Paul into a leadership role, albeit a de facto one rather than in terms of committee assignments and such. The key will be to see if Rand can sustain the political momentum he got from this.

    1. You nailed its significance right there. It was interesting to see Team Red when they had no ready-made answer as to which side to be on, as they looked at each other and tried to figure out which would be the winning side…only to realize they would actually have to think for themselves this time instead. And out of that, Rand Paul emerged as the one the bulk of them will turn to for an easy answer next time, because he was clearly the winner. Of course a similar occurrence in the future could cause them to turn to another leader, but it may be a long time before that happens.

  19. Rand Paul is representative of (sadly) only a minority of the GOP. I would consider Mike Lee, Jason Chaffetz, Raul Labrador, and a few others to be comparable. Most the GOP remains essentially Low-Cal Democrats.

  20. Sometimes dude you jsut have to roll with it man.


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