On Friday, May 31, I conducted an interview via Twitter with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the Tea Party favorite who has emerged as the leader of what might be called the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. In a series of speeches and legislative actions - including an epic 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan's confirmation as Barack Obama's CIA director - Paul has energetically injected libertarian principles of limited government to forefront of debates about not just the future of the GOP but of the country as a whole.
Here he does the same thing in the 140-character limit that defines Twitter.
The interview - along with hundreds of tweets from other people - took place at the hashtag #randchat. It can all be viewed here as well.
Below is a slightly edited and condensed version of the questions Reason asked Paul and his answers.
@SenRandPaul: Hold the IRS and DOJ accountable and rein in much of the executive overreach we've seen in the last decade. Obama campaigned against Bush's executive excess. Would be nice to see some of those promises fulfilled.
@SenRandPaul: You're right. A recent poll showed 68% of Americans oppose intervention in Syria. Washington should take notice, but… How do you stop executive decisions that ignore the Constitution? The Constitution? This has always been the problem.
@reason: At CPAC you said the GOP needed to embrace economic & social freedom. What are some social freedoms it needs to dig?
@SenRandPaul: I would begin by getting rid of mandatory minimum sentencing. Non-violent drug offenders don't belong in prison. In a wider sense, states should be able to craft their own drug or marriage policies, instead of the federal government.
@reason: What's the biggest obstacle in making the GOP more popular with new constituencies? Who are biggest problems in GOP?
@SenRandPaul: I believe a more libertarian Republican Party will be more competitive in blue states. A reluctance to reexamine old positions that no longer make sense is a problem. There are some in the GOP, who I call stale, moss-covered Republicans, who've still not learned from mistakes of the past.
@SenRandPaul: @SenatorLeahy has joined me in cosponsoring the legislation to get rid of mandatory minimum sentencing. I've worked with both @RonWyden and @SenJeffMerkley on civil liberties. So perhaps Oregon has some libertarian tendencies.
@reason: During yr epic filibuster you defended Jane Fonda's right to make movies w/o reprisal. Have you seen Monster-in-Law? I have not seen the movie, but it can't be worse than Obama's drone policy.
@SenRandPaul: I have not seen the movie, but it can't be worse than Obama's drone policy. BTW, the point about Fonda hypothetically being droned was originally discussed @NRO by @KevinNR and @AndrewCMcCarthy.
@reason: Is there a serious stumbling block to alliance between social cons & libertarians? If so, how to fix?
@SenRandPaul: I think there is more common ground than many realize, especially if we use the Constitution as our guide. I'm socially conservative. I'm also a libertarian Republican. You can be both. The difference is how you view the role of government.
@reason: @reason started 45 yrs ago, in 1968. What's one thing that's much better since then? Much worse?
@SenRandPaul: I'd say the prospects for a more libertarian future are better than they've ever been and @reason can take some of the credit. What's worse, is that government had to get so large and out of control for people to begin to react.
I'm going to have to go now, but I've really enjoyed the conversation. Hope we can do it again.
@reason: Thanks v much for taking the time to talk via @twitter. Please keep fighting for a moss-free Senate & for freedom.
For more Reason coverage of Rand Paul, go here.