45 Years, 45 Days: Rand Paul, the Son Also Rises


For 45 days, we'll be celebrating Reason's 45th anniversary by releasing a story a day from the archives—one for each year of the magazine's history. See the full list here.

Credit: Gage Skidmore / Foter.com / CC-BY-SA

Writing in Reason's May 2010 issue, W. James Antle III reported from Rand Paul's surprisingly successful campaign for the U.S. Senate:

The Rally for the Republicans at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center isn't your standard rubber-chicken campaign event. Frank Simon, a Louisville religious-right leader known for his strong opposition to gay marriage, leads the crowd of 800 in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Rev. Jerry Stephenson, a conservative black pastor, delivers the invocation, asking "Father God" to "help us start a revolution." Then the Grammy-nominated rock and reggae singer Aimee Allen, decked out in tattoos, patterned stockings, and high-top sneakers, performs a three-song set, culminating in an anthem helped along by the candidate's sons on acoustic guitars: "We don't want no war no more / Bring our boys home to our shore."…

Nearly an hour later, the audience, which paid $25 a head, is treated to the main event: Rand Paul, a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, making his first joint appearance with his famous father, Ron Paul, the libertarian presidential candidate and 11-term GOP congressman from Texas.

"It was a little weird," Rand Paul's campaign manager, David Adams, admits afterward. "But it also shows what's great about our movement. We are building a big tent that appeals to everyone from the civil libertarians to the Christian right." That tent covers a vast army of hippies, Birchers, don't-tread-on-me libertarians, Tea Party activists, conservatives clinging to either Bibles or guns, and blue blazer–wearing GOP regulars. Rand Paul has managed to tap into his father's national following of libertarians and anti-war advocates without (so far) alienating traditional Republicans in the Blue Grass State.

This highly unusual combination may make Rand Paul the most serious libertarian-leaning candidate for U.S. Senate in recent history.