Rand Paul is the U.S. Senator from Kentucky who is favored by many to win the 2016 Republican nomination for president. He appeals to a broad range of constituents from the Tea Party to Evangelical Christians, African Americans, Gays, Independents and Democrats concerned about Civil Liberties. He has picked up the Civil Rights torch and now leads the most active effort to reform criminal justice. His father, Ron Paul, was a U.S. Congressman from Texas, who ran for president three times.
Here’s how they differ.
The father, congressman, Ron Paul, is a classic Libertarian.
The son, Senator, Rand Paul, is a practical Libertarian.
The father believes in the personal freedom of the individual. The son recognizes that there are times when the needs of the wider community must be considered. For example, the father would allow local communities to decide for themselves about legalizing marijuana. The son agrees but openly favors laws against marijuana – for the greater good.
In foreign policy there is a big difference. Both men believe that the nation should not go to war without congressional approval. They both believe it is a mistake for Congress to forfeit war making powers to the president alone. Both men believe that the United States should not assume the role of policeman of the world. But the difference is in degrees. And it is huge. The father, Ron Paul, would prefer that American stay out of everybody else’s business. For example, he does not see Iran as a threat to American security. In an ideal world, Senator Rand Paul would agree but in a world of terrorism and nuclear weapons he sees genuine danger.
Rand Paul sees Israel as one of America’s most important allies.
The best example of a Rand Paul foreign policy would be that of former President Ronald Reagan. For Reagan, the security of the United States was the paramount concern and thus his focus was on the Soviet Union and the threat it posed. Reagan’s wars were always proxy wars against the Soviets. For example, Reagan did not go after Cambodian leader, Pol Pot, the man who killed half of his own people in a nationwide genocide. Reagan did not go after Idi Amin, who had slaughtered hundreds of thousands in Africa and had just been driven from office when Reagan arrived in the White House. Both of these despotic leaders, left untouched by Reagan, were far more evil than Saddam Hussein.
When Reagan stuck his toe in the Middle East in 1982 and it resulted in the death of 241 marines, he withdrew our forces. He decided that it was not in America’s security interest to be involved in the intractable problems of the Middle East. How wise that seems in retrospect.
Likewise, Senator Rand Paul has refused to support the endless calls for international adventures from his colleagues in the Senate. And yet, when the ISIS threat emerged Paul had razor sharp focus. He was the first public figure to call for a declaration of war. He saw ISIS as a threat to America’s national security.
Both men, father and son, would like to see Foreign Aid reformed. Both men believe that the process has become corrupted. The father, Ron Paul, would eliminate it immediately. “Why should we borrow money from China and give it to Pakistan?” he asks.
Likewise, Senator Rand Paul would move to end the corruption in Foreign Aid, where money really comes back to American lobbyists and their interests, but would see even that process of reform as an ongoing process. He would start by ending aid to countries that allow the killing of Christians simply because of their religion. Or persecute women. He would end aid that is going to terrorists groups that target Americans and Jews, such as Palestinian aid now being passed through to the terrorist group Hamas.
Perhaps the most striking issue associated with Senator Paul has been his call for reform in criminal justice. He favors strict incarceration of violent criminals but is appalled by the unfair application of the law which allows for young African Americans to be disproportionately sentenced for the same drug related crimes as white youth. Rand Paul sees this as unjust.
Then there is the Federal Reserve and the study by UC Berkeley where the rich continue to get richer and the poor get poorer. He would like to see us return to free markets, away from corporate competition to game the system by upping their government subsidies and upping their money supply from the FED. Let in more of the natural forces of supply and demand. Let the 99% have a chance to play.
Finally, there is style. The father was a great provocateur and a born teacher. The son is a superb politician, a natural pleaser.
Here is a CBS report on the Rand Paul balancing act.