After his recent 13-hour lightning rod filibuster, everyone expected Rand Paul’s welcome at CPAC just two weeks later to be raucous, but no one knew just how far he would push his message. After his speech today, now we know – he’s going the full libertarian.
Opening his remarks by complaining about how he had only been given 10 minutes, Rand rehashed the drone issue, civil liberties, and the Bill of Rights. It started to fall flat, and I feared he would lose the great momentum that he’s had recently. Then, just as he needed to do, he transitioned the civil liberties message into a broader platform of what he branded the “new GOP”. He talked about gun rights, his upcoming Senate budget proposal (he also introduced them the last two years, both of which failed in the Democrat-controlled chamber), which would eliminate the Department of Education and return many other programs back to the states, bailouts, tax rates (cut corporate in half, 17% flat personal income rate), and marijuana decriminalization. Yes, you read that right. He actually went there.
The most succinct way to put it he did himself:
“The new GOP will need to embrace liberty in both the economic and the personal sphere.”
This is as explicit a call as any elected Republican has made to move the party in the libertarian direction that it’s destined by demographics to take anyway. And the junior Senator from Kentucky isn’t wasting any time making himself into the face of that brand.
Many of the “stale and moss-covered” (as he put it) in the party will not be comfortable with this new direction, but that’s the point. The younger half of the right is strongly libertarian, not traditionally conservative. If the GOP wants to win elections again, even with its own side, it must evolve, and fast.