February 21, 2013

Rand Paul Changing Tea Party Brand

It's interesting to read columns like that from Juan Williams of Fox News, where he starts it off with "Surprise," in reference to Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul and his being considered the probable new leader of the Tea Party.

Williams actually shows a flawed understanding of the spontaneous formation of the Tea Party though, as he points to what he calls former "leaders" of the movement, such as Sarah Palin, Dick Armey and Jim DeMint having faded from the scene.

What I mean by that is those three actually rode the popularity of the Tea Party movement, standing on the shoulders of the work that Rand Paul's father Ron Paul built over several decades.

People didn't know the source of why they felt like they did in response to the outrageous overreach by the government in general, and Barack Obama in particular, but there is no doubt that it was Ron Paul, who through his philosophy, backed up by practice in real life, laid the foundation for the Tea Party to emerge.

As a matter of fact, most that know the influence of Ron Paul have pointed out that those such as Palin, Armey and DeMint, really never represented the Tea Party but temporarily rode its popularity. This is why when people are polled about the Tea Party, the most recent being a poll by the AP, it was found that only 22 percent support it. That's because it is viewed more as a neo-con political force, rather than the conservative/libertarian force it really is.

Even though the GOP is courting Marco Rubio as their man going forward, other than those allegedly in the Tea Party that backed those like Palin and the others, the real Tea Party isn't that impressed with Rubio, who really doesn't represent the foundation it was birthed from.

The only other person associated with the Tea Party of note at this time is Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, who has a feisty demeanor and isn't afraid to fight, he still I think doesn't have the economic and government chops to understand what it is that motivates the Tea Party adherents.

While Rand Paul has drifted some to the neo-con side on some issues, he is still tempered by the influence of his father, as well as real core beliefs he espouses. Contrary to his dad, Rand is trying to push forward for the purpose of actually attaining the presidency. Ron Paul on the other hand, always used his runs for the purpose of marketing his message and extending it to a larger audience.

Oddly enough, the strong victory of Obama brings Williams to conclude that it has forced the Tea Party leaders to the sidelines, presumably because in his eyes they're the reason for the big defeat. In reality, if that's his thinking, he's totally wrong. The big defeat came for the opposite reason, which was the choice of another candidate that represent the establishment Republican Party, when people wanted a real option to Obama. Romney was just Obama light, and maybe even a cloned Obama, as far as his policies go.

Rand Paul smartly understands that the underpinnings of the Tea Party are strong and more numerous than mainstream media and commentators report. So he is riding a fine line between not appearing extreme in some areas, while also maintaining an independent streak that will appeal to Tea Party voters and the Republican base, which is fed up with the types of candidates emerging from the Party.

He is strong enough on social conservative issues that he should appeal to Evangelicals, and also on libertarian views related to the economy and limited government. The one area where libertarians would consider him weak on would be in foreign policy and interventionism, where he isn't as solid as his dad is.

Even so, he's still much more prone to focus on defense at home rather than funding the military to operate as the world's policeman. The problem is Evangelicals have so over-responded to anti-military sentiment in the past, that they are blinded by the fact we have gone far beyond the mandate of the military, and need to instead focus on our national defense at home, as should all countries.

If he can convince Evangelicals in that area, and reaffirm his goal of the military being strong, but being strong at home, he could have a powerful base that could result in him winning the presidency.

As for being the leader of the Tea Party, as Williams suggests, I think Williams needs to define what he means by the Tea Party, as it's not a reference to the neo-con Republicans that have dominated the Republican Party for decades, which he apparently believes it is, minus a few tweaks.

Rand Paul looks like he will be a powerful force on the national stage for a long time, and if he decides to stay in the game, could be the man the real Tea Party is looking for.

Many wish Rand was like his dad Ron, but that's not who he is, but he's close enough that he is far better than any other politician I've been able to find, now that his dad has retired.

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