Rand Paul’s comments this weekend on marijuana users receiving ridiculously long prison sentences coupled with some of his recent comments on immigration reform as well as his perceived role as an advocate for civil liberties following his filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director open up some new areas for the Republican Party.
Rand Paul may be a hypocritical opportunist. Despite his public persona, he has many disagreements with his father (who is truly principled IMO) and is closer on the positions he has taken on issues to the tea party than Libertarians.
But I think his recent attempts to separate himself on several key issues from perceptions of what the Republican Party stands for is a strategy more and more candidates will utilize and perhaps even the party apparatus itself will get behind this.
In particular, on several reasons I think some Republican Party candidates may try to “outleft” the Democrats on the following issues (Using the old Bill Clinton triangulation maneuver)….
IMMIGRATION – While there is no historical reason while the Republicans should be the ones out front talking about pathways to citizenship for illegal aliens (a form of amnesty), they are….Publicly led by Marco Rubio, himself the son of Cuban Immigrants.
CIVIL LIBERTIES – Again, a Democratic president who continued the worst policies of the Bush administration and ramped up drone strikes that kill many civilians can’t with any credibility talk about this issue. While there is a whiff of hypocrisy – where were some of these guys when Bush was in office????, Paul has really tapped into something here.
DRUG LEGALIZATION – Aiming for penalty reform rather than out and out drug legalization is a clever way of bridging the gap between law and order conservatives and Libertarians.
GAY MARRIAGE –Straight up reversals on this issues by Jon Huntsman, Rob Portman and other prominent Republicans could be rendered moot by a Supreme court decision later this year. Such a decision would greatly benefit Republicans by taking the issue out of legislative purview.
Also Governor Bobby Jindal’s idea of making birth control over the counter removes that potentially troubling issue for Republicans.
The big question brought up by these isn’t whether or not the Republicans will get away with this but where are the Democrats??? The so-called progressive party which under first Bill Clinton now Barack Obama is the party of drone strikes, Israel support, NAFTA, protecting the big banks.
The latter is an area where the Democrats could still distinguish themselves. Senator Elizabeth Warren has done a great job turning up the heat on bank regulators. Could she pull the Democrats in her direction the way Rand Paul is pulling the Republicans in his?