Ron Paul in an editorial in USA Today on Monday made clear his consistent isolationist philosophy. He thinks we should be unconcerned about the Russian annexation of Crimea. "Why does the U.S. care which flag will be hoisted on a small piece of land thousands of miles away," he asks. I assume that would have also been the Ron Paul comment when Hitler annexed Sudetenland.
I don't really care very much what Ron Paul has to say. I have liked his defense of free enterprise and his candor and outspokenness and straight talk on some issues, but I could never have voted for him because of his isolationist views and particularly his comments regarding 9-11. When he said 9-11 was "blowback for decades of US intervention in the Middle East," I pretty much lost any respect I had for the man. I think his views on foreign policy are very close to that of Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright who said 9-11 was "America's chickens coming home to roost." Paul opposed the war in Afghanistan, the country allied with Al Qaeda and their safe haven and base of operations. "The last thing we needed," said Paul, "was the government’s response: more wars, a stepped-up police and surveillance state, and drones."
Ron Paul had an enthusiastic youth following. In addition to an isolationist foreign policy, abolishing the Federal Reserve was another issue of primary concern of Ron Paul supporters. Ron Paul supporters tend to be outside the political mainstream and more libertarian than Republican. Certainly, there is overlap and it can be dangerous to generalize, but Ron Paul supporters are not exactly "tea party" either. From what I have observed, they are libertarian with a streak of conspiracy theory thrown in. They are enthusiastic and hard working and committed. I think some of that comes with youthful idealism. I think these Ron Paul activists should be welcome in the Republican Party. They bring a lot of energy. I suspect that as they mature, many of them will moderate their positions and become more mainstream Republican. Ron Paul won the CPAC poll for two year in a row in 2010 and 2011, then Mitt Romney won in 2012 and then in 2013 and 2014 it was won by Rand Paul. I think that is less of an indication where the conservative movement is and instead is a reflection of the intensity of commitment of the Paul supporters. They show up and they vote.
While I did not care for Ron Paul, I have liked his son Rand. In addition to following Rand Paul in the media, I have had two occasions to hear him speak in person, once at First Tuesday and and then at CPAC. He has a grasp of the issues, is smart, articulate, and quick on his feet. Also, I like what he has to say on such issues as immigration, broadening the base of the Party, and sentencing reform. By anyone's calculation he is in the top tier of potential Republican presidential candidates. He has inherited the movement that grew up around his father Ron Paul and is attracting people who may never have been a fan of Ron Paul. Rand Paul has appeared more mainstream than Ron Paul. He shared the program at First Tuesday with Senator Lamar Alexander and they each had words of praise for the other. Also, he has endorsed Senator Mitch McConnell in Kentucky rather than the tea party favored opponent. Rand Paul also has avoided taking extreme positions or focusing on fringe concerns or making outlandish statements.
I had mixed views about his marathon filibuster over drones. On the one hand, I think he is certainly right and the government has no authority to put to death an American without that person being tried and convicted. Drone attacks on Americans on American soil is clearly not legal. The Administration should have said such immediately. The reluctance of Attorney General Holder to acknowledge there was no such authority was troubling. On the other hand, I have never feared being the victim of a drone attack while sitting at Starbucks. So, I don't know if Paul's filibuster was principled and served a good purpose or was just so much opportunistic grandstanding political theater.
Ron Paul's outspokenness on Ukraine leads me to want to know where Rand Paul stands. The very fact that Rand Paul is Ron Paul's son makes me want to know if he shares his father's opinion. I think we must remain engaged in the world and if we disengage then the world becomes a more dangerous place. That does not mean I support the neoconservative vision of spreading Democracy throughout the world and remaking the world in America's image. There are limits to what we can do. We have to be selective about American involvement. Not all American intervention is the same. I supported our war in Afghanistan, but opposed our war in Iraq. During President Clinton's administration, I supported our efforts in the Balkans. I thought that region was too important to ignore. We and our allies ended the slaughter and stabilized the region. I do not, however, think we have the resources to be the world's policeman. I don't think we can get between every warring faction and impose peace or stop genocide every time it occurs. I do think we need to resist aggression by China and Russia and keep North Korea and Iran from developing nuclear weapons and we must continue to be vigilant against radical Islamic extremist.
I want to support someone who shares my views. I think President Obama by his show of weakness has made the world a much more dangerous place. The next presidential election should not only be about health care and the growing deficit but about America's role in the world. I would like to know where Rand Paul stands. If his fathers views are not his views, then he needs to spell that out clearly before I could ever be comfortable supporting him. Because of who is father is, he has more to prove than other Republicans who may seek the presidency.