Back in 2013, being the political junkie I am, noticed a rising star in the Republican party. He was different from your average Republican politician, and at the same time, refreshingly unique. Even then, way back in 2013, I knew he was going to run for President. On October 12th, Republican Presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul is coming to campus to speak on the OC. He is coming to share his unique vision with us, a vision that even with sixteen or so other Republicans running for the party nomination still remains unlike any other.
Rand Paul is the junior Senator from Kentucky and is a eye doctor by profession. Before he ran for Senate out of frustration with the way the country was going, he was an ophthalmologist that specialized in eye care and often gave free care to low income Kentuckians who cannot afford it. Even as a Senator, he spends his summer breaks providing free eye surgeries back home in Kentucky. Even while running for President, he still found time to go down to Haiti and Guatemala to perform charity surgeries to the neediest of the needy, bringing back sight to those in countries too poor to have even simple cataract removal procedures he performs. His father is libertarian icon, former congressman, and two time Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul who is extremely influential in bringing a libertarian, limited government message, one that holds you should be free in both economic and social realms of your life, to the American electorate. Rand Paul’s principled stance in favor of freedom and limited government appeals to what he calls the “Leave me alone” coalition of libertarians, conservatives, independents and even some liberals that believe that the government step out of the way and let people live their lives the way they see fit.
“Leave me alone.” What a simple proposition, but it explains so much of Rand Paul’s unique vision. Paul believes that every American has a right to privacy and has been a leader in ending the unconstitutional warrantless collection of bulk phone data from Americans by the NSA and is a major opponent of the Patriot Act. While these are designed to find terrorists, it is still none of the government’s business what you do on your phone. To him, following the Constitution is the best way to make the government leave people alone and to respect their individual rights.
Many of Paul’s biggest opponents on this issue have come from his own party, such as Chris Christie who doesn’t value the right to privacy or understand how warrants work as Paul does. Paul’s criticism of interventionist foreign policy, which I agree with him when he says it often does more harm than good, whether we meddle in Iraq, Syria, or Libya. This has caused some of his biggest Republican detractors such as Lindsey Graham to run for President in purely spite of Rand Paul’s foreign policy. On top of this, the contrast between Paul and the rest of the field on foreign policy is very stark. In essence, he wants to avoid the expensive mistakes we have made in the past.
Another unique difference between him and the rest of the field is Rand Paul’s emphasis on both the drug war and criminal justice reform. He thinks that abusing drugs are bad, but doesn’t think you should go to jail for ten years a la mandatory minimums because of a youthful mistake. We have the largest prison population in the world, and it sure isn’t filled with people we really want locked up, but with nonviolent drug offenders. He recognizes and states that communities most hit by the drug war are poor minority communities, people most unable to cope economically. How can we be the land of the free when we are also the land of the incarcerated? So Rand Paul advocates for ending the drug war and decriminalizing drugs such as marijuana.
Another way his vision manifests itself is that government should also let you be in your economic realm as well. He also believes that the American dream is being squeezed out and action needs to be taken to unleash it again. This is literally his slogan. To do this, Rand proposes the largest tax cut in American history, a flat tax of 14.5% on both individuals and businesses. This eliminates every special interest loophole so you know people are paying their due and it can be filled out on a postcard. This saves Americans billions they spend merely doing their taxes every year because our tax code is 70,000 pages long and is utterly incomprehensible. Now the common argument is that this shifts the burden of taxation onto the poor and 15% for the rich means less than the poor, where every penny counts. First you have to make over $20,000 a year to be eligible and after you make that you will pay the same rate regardless of how much money you make. The rich still pay more but you are not punished for your success with a higher progressive tax rate. This incentivizes growth and entrepreneurship. He also proposes ending the payroll tax, a tax that mostly affects poor working people.
Spending will have to be cut as well, but Paul makes it very clear that no one gets thrown out if they are dependent on Social Security or Medicare and that not a single penny of welfare to the needy is cut before corporate welfare is eliminated. This aversion to corporate welfare is what separates him from many in both parties in the Washington Establishment. His core vision separates from the Washington Establishment. In essence Rand Paul believes that if people keep more of their money, more innovation, progress and economic growth will follow, which will once again unleash the American dream that many have said was dead.
Now I am not Senator Paul, and I cannot communicate his vision the way he can. So come see him speak on the OC, Monday October 12th, 4 PM. I cannot express how absolutely ecstatic we at College Republicans, Young Americans for Liberty, and the fledging Students for Rand are about his visit. We believe that he has the best ideas to put our country back on the right track again, a track that 60% of Americans believe we have strayed from. While he is polling at about three percent right now and is being drowned out by a brash showman with no ideas, he has a devoted following that will vote for him no matter what. It’s early and eventually voters will come to their senses and decide who really should be the nominee.
Ryan Kelly, Guest Writer