Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tim Stanley: The Pauls Have Been Proven Right

A nice piece in the Daily Telegraph:

As Jim Antle points out, for the first time in a very long time the Right is using libertarian rhetoric. It's partly to do with being out of government, which frees conservatives to criticise its every error – economic and military. It's partly to do with frustration directed at this particular president, a man who spends like there's no tomorrow. It's also partly to do with an implicit rejection of the Republicanism of the past – a recognition, like the one Senator DeMint makes, that Bush was the one who gave us Medicare Part D and the Patriot Act. But it intellectually all comes down to this: the simplest solution to the myriad of problems facing the republic is to return to the spirit and the limits of the Constitution. Of course, that Constitution requires a presidential leadership figure to make political change happen – which is why all eyes are on Rand Paul and his obvious desire to occupy the White House. And it's why grassroots conservatives are grateful that he's proven himself not to be a fruitcake. By visiting Israel, making the right noises about missile defence and highlighting where libertarianism matches the spiritual needs of the GOP (guns, healthcare, taxes), Senator Paul has slowly pushed himself to the front row of the Republican presidential pre-contest. He and Rubio are the ones to watch.

Prism validates everything the Pauls have been working for over the past decade. It confirms their narrative of the Republicans creating the potential for an abusive state and Obama then exploiting it. It fits into the discourse of the need to dump "politics-as-usual", to affirm that political power should reside outside of Washington and with the individual. It shows that big spending and big surveillance go hand in hand.

Liberal commentators presume that the rise of the libertarians is a problem for the GOP because it means another fight between the base and the leadership. That true, but it's also a very cynical way to read US politics. They ought to celebrate the death of a lame duck consensus and the birth of new ideas. I'm far from sold on the libertarian revolution, but when it comes to whether or not the government should be able to read my mom's emails – Rand Paul is on the side of the angels.

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