Senator Rand Paul (R/L/?-Ky) has been nothing short of frustrating, especially for a libertarian like me. His misread of the American electorate in 2015 allowed for the rise of Donald Trump during the primaries.
Rand did not follow his father’s blueprint of fire-bombing the establishment with unwavering, unvarnished truth about our foreign policy. He tried to appease the neocons and Israel while trading on his father’s name to appeal to the Libertarian wing of the GOP.
It didn’t work. In fact, we could see the virtue-signaling a mile away and turned our backs on him.
But, as Ron Paul has said on many occasions, “Rand is his own man.” And that means having make mistakes in order to learn from them. And what Rand learned in the last two years is that there is no appeasing the powerful in Washington.
No amount of genuflection or compromise will win you their favor. If you ain’t in the club, if you won’t be controlled, then you are the enemy to be kicked, beaten and marginalized if you won’t give up.
Rand v. The Donald
Trump read the people right about war and foreign aid. Paul, who was supposed to know better, didn’t. Rand learned this the hard way during the primaries.
And he learned it again when dealing with President Trump on the repeal of Obamacare.
Trump never had any intention of going with Paul’s plan. Trump took some strategic advice from Rand but because Trump is a man without principles but with opinions, keeping Rand Paul in the conversation was good for Trump to keep the base at least partially mollified.
Then came Trump’s obvious deal he cut with the neocons over foreign policy. I’m sure Paul was not surprised in the end. The neocons are relentless.
I believe Trump was sincere in wanting to shift U.S. foreign policy away from endless war and empire-building. I still believe that is one of his goals.
It is simply not a goal right now.
Let the neocons rage around the world. Trump will play his part. But, he knows these are not winning policies.
And, so both men, Paul and Trump, learned how to play the game a lot better. Because now with Trump working on domestic policies, Rand Paul can go back to his father’s ground game, foreign policy.
He delayed the NDAA before the senate’s recess, infuriating John McCain (MIC-AZ). Paul has spent most of this year driving McCain mad. It’s been beautiful to watch.
Rand, Rand the Antiwar Man?
That’s what was so significant about Paul forcing his amendment to the NDAA to nullify the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to the floor of the Senate.
It puts Rand Paul back on track to be the standard-bearer for the issues that elevated his father to rock-star status in 2008 and 2012, ending our horrible foreign wars.
The vote was a small thing. It was defeated 61 to 38. But, as the great Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com noted, it was the language Paul used in supporting his amendment that is indicative of where he’s headed, and why we should encourage him to do more things like this.
“I rise today to oppose unauthorized, undeclared, and unconstitutional war.
“What we have today is basically unlimited war – war anywhere, anytime, any place on the globe.
“This vote will be to sunset, in 6 months, the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force.
“No one with an ounce of intellectual honesty believes these authorizations allow current wars we fight in 7 countries.
“Some of the more brazen advocates of war maintain the President can even fight war in perpetuity without any Congressional authority.”
This is the Rand Paul we wanted when he was elected to the Senate. This is the Rand Paul that has to take up the anti-interventionist cause in the Senate now that Trump had to make a deal to save his skin.
I don’t know if this was part of the plan or if Paul is sticking it to Trump and frankly I couldn’t care less. I just know that I want more of this.
Put the McCains and the Lindsay Grahams and the Bob Corkers on notice. They voted for more war when the American people want less of it.
Then, after voting to continue abdicating their basic Constitutional responsibilities on war, even more Senators voted against Paul’s amendment to shift $80 billion of unused ‘foreign aid’ to help rebuild Texas and Florida after two natural disasters. As Raimondo put it:
The very idea that we have to send billions overseas to our “allies” while Americans are in dire straits due to natural disasters is inexplicable to the ordinary citizen: only a US government official or a liberal could possibly rationalize it.
Raimondo is right. Paul is beginning to get it. He’s building a resume of votes that will put him in good stead come 2020. He’ll carry Trump’s water (if Trump is still interested in scaling back the empire) for the rest of the term.
He’ll stick it to McCain in the senate until McCain keels over dead. Keep your eyes on what Paul does next. Because I expect that mild-manner of his is going to begin to look a lot more like his father’s radicalism in the next year or so.
And if it does, he’s going to be a real force to be reckoned with after Trump gets finished destroying what’s left of the old guard GOP.
Follow Tom’s work at his blog Gold Goats ‘n Guns as well as his contributions at Russia Insider and Seeking Alpha. Support his work at his Patreon page where you can sign up for the monthly Gold Goats ‘n Guns Newsletter for just $1/month.