There’s no such thing as an anti-establishment politician. It’s an oxymoron and it’s like calling yourself the anti-church politician while preaching from the pulpit. Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul is often referred to as the anti-establishment candidate. But if elected to public office, he will became the establishment.
That’s not to say that he’s like every other politician. He seems like a bright person with some drastically different theories about how we should be governed. His underlying governing philosophy is that the federal government is too big and too intrusive. Many politicians claim to stand by this belief, but Paul’s is so vociferous that it makes many within his own party uncomfortable. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said that Paul needs to abandon the media circuit and go back to Kentucky to speak to the people who will be voting for him.
Typically when candidates say that they believe in a small government, what they are actually saying is that they believe in less regulation of the free market. Paul recently went as far as to say that President Obama’s criticism of a business like BP sounded un-American. It’s a perplexing statement when you realize that BP stands for British Petroleum. The oil rig that blew up is registered in the Marshall Islands, and it is being leased from a company called Transocean. Transocean’s principal office is in Houston, Texas, but the company is incorporated in the Canary Islands. Criticizing a company that appears to be skirting taxes while damaging our coasts seems very American. But this is Paul’s stance, free market above all. He says what many Republicans think but are too cautious to say. This is why his party is trying to get him to shut up and go home and do what he does best, which is tapping into populist rage. He hits all the right notes that register with voters. He’s against government spending, taxes, gun control and abortion. The abortion part is odd considering his stance on personal freedoms versus big government. But he feels that life begins at conception and that abortion is taking the life of an innocent human. The Kentucky Enquirer reported that Paul believes in the morning-after pill in cases of rape or incest. So taking the life of an innocent human being is okay when it meets his ethical marker.
Much of the media has implied that Paul’s primary victory is some sort of transformative moment where the Tea Party asserts its power. This is doubtful, but the one thing that it does do is catapult a libertarian perspective onto the main stage of politics. The upshot is that it shines a light on some widely held views that have been sparsely represented. Paul has been a strong opponent to the super secret dealings of the Federal Reserve, and many relate to that concern. But it also brings to the forefront some less popular Libertarian beliefs, like supporting the idea that privately owned businesses have the right to discriminate based on race or gender. This is why Paul and candidates like him have to ride the line between tapping into rightwing populist rage and scaring away the centrists with more controversial beliefs.
But if Rand Paul wins, his days in the senate will probably be more mundane than controversial. Like his father, Ron Paul, when he takes a seat in the Senate he’ll cast his up or down vote, and when it’s time to take federal money, he’ll take it. The verbal bombs will be held to a minimum, and in the end he’ll be what he’s running to be, a politician.