Do you think Rand Paul is waiting for his moment to pounce during the upcoming GOP Presidential debate?
Any liberty lover worth their salt remembers the Ron Paul vs. Rudy Giuliani exchange during an early GOP Presidential debate in 2007, a moment which helped wake me from my neoconservative coma. Ron Paul challenged the neoconservative message that the U.S. was attacked “because we’re free” by clearly stating that Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11 because we were “over there.”
You could almost feel the tension level rising as the other candidates on stage watched uncomfortably, completely mystified that someone could think that way. But Dr. Paul maintained his composure and he spoke in a calm, stern manner while clarifying his thoughts. He responded to the moderator’s questioning of his statement by saying, “I’m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it.”
Rudy Giuliani took exception to Dr. Paul’s comments and interrupted by saying,
That’s really an extraordinary statement…that’s an extraordinary statement of someone who lived through the attacks of September 11 that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before. And I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th.
Ron Paul recently appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews and discussed this exchange. Matthews laughed at Giuliani’s response and praised Dr. Paul for being right. However, at the time of the debate the pundits thought it would be the end of Ron Paul’s campaign.
Instead, the opposite occurred.
The exchange between Paul and Giuliani served as a tipping point for many who had been afraid to speak up previously or had been lulled into apathy by the steady supply of plastic men and women seeking political office. Personally, that singular debate exchange lit a fire under me and completely altered my political trajectory.
At the time of the debate I had already bought what Ron Paul was selling thanks to Marc Clair, co-founder of this site, introducing me to Ron Paul’s message months beforehand. But the Paul-Giuliani fray was a turning point that ultimately got me excited about the ideas of liberty, because I saw someone on stage courageously challenging the status quo. This gave me the courage to stand up for truth.
After watching Ron Paul’s appearance on Hardball I started to wonder if Rand Paul had some plans in place to try to mimic his father by making a big splash and coming out courageously against war and the establishment in the first GOP debate.
For what it’s worth Jesse Benton, long time Paul family confidant and leader of PAC America’s Liberty, told Reason that Rand Paul doesn’t need to make waves in order to make up ground in the crowded GOP field.
What does Jesse Benton know? After all he was just indicted Tuesday morning for alleged campaign law violations and lying to the FBI related to supposed payoffs to Iowa state senator Kent Sorenson during that campaign.
When it comes down to it, is Senator Paul’s goal to gather votes or to advance the ideas of liberty? Gathering votes by itself does nothing to educate the masses on reason and liberty. But using reason and the ideas of liberty as a tool to gather votes ensures that his campaign will be a winner, even if he falls short at the ballot box. Ron Paul understood this, and because he did we have the modern liberty movement. This webpage likely would not exist without Ron Paul’s educational campaigns for president.
This is the reason why so many liberty-minded individuals have been so utterly disappointed with Rand’s campaign. Instead of embracing and highlighting his differences, he’s largely chosen to waffle on issues and try to fit in with the rest of the GOP. Sure, Rand has had a few moments where he’s stepped out and challenged the establishment. We can’t forget his filibusters against domestic drone use and the Patriot Act. But these few instances where Rand has taken on the role of agitator have only increased the level of frustration many in the liberty movement have with Rand Paul.
Instead of gaining praise from libertarians, many see his campaign and largely his political career up to this point as a lost opportunity.
Will the trajectory of Rand’s campaign change tomorrow night?
Probably not. He’s too far down the road of moderation to even know how to wage a campaign that attacks the systematic failures caused by coercive government in this country. Senator Paul needs to shake things up and take a cut for the fences by really attacking the gaggle of neoconservatives on stage for their dangerous jingoistic views.
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