Brian Doherty on Rand Paul: Can Interesting Be Electable?


Rand Paul announced today that he's definitely running for re-election to his Kentucky Senate seat. While he has not made it official, he's also by all available evidence running for his party's presidential nomination. He's doing well in the polls so far. 

Paul has a quality that doubtless irks his possible opponents even as they anticipate it will provide them the weapon with which to dispatch the troublesome constitutionalist.

As publications from Reason (first!) to Time have noticed, as a serious national politician and not merely an amusing/alarming maverick, Rand Paul's the most interesting guy in the field. This peculiar character says and does things fresh and dramatic in politics, within the context of his party, the context of presidential politics writ large—on both levels he advocates things no one else will—and the context of his own political and familial saga—where he can be examined constantly for flip flops, apostasy, and the struggle to escape his father Ron Paul's allegedly baleful (electorally) shadow.

From his staffing choices to his attempts at nuanced positions vis a vis ISIS, surveillance, and tech policy, Rand Paul runs the risk of giving everyone a good reason to eschew him. Senior Editor Brian Doherty analyzes the risks and possible rewards for libertarians of a Rand Paul who is now an undeniably serious GOP player trying to carve an identity that is not only "interesting" but sufficiently mainstream to win.