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There’s been been a lot of discussion about Rand Paul’s pragmatism, in regards to what he really believes and what he’ll say out on the campaign trail. But in trying to answer Red’s question below, I think one can come up with a simple defense for Paul and its called winning.
Power in any legitimate political system comes down to its success at polls. Fighting the good fight or fighting for lost causes is fine for one or two campaigns. Not a series of them.
It wasn’t just Roy Moore who lost last week or that fellow running for State Agriculture Commissioner with the blunt campaign ad. Another raw, unvarnished, tell-it-like -it is candidate, the antiwar activist Adam Kokesh only gained 29 percent of the vote running for the House of Representatives in New Mexico.
What this says is that anger alone or stark political positions that run against the grain of a particular district or state can only go so far. The majority of voters, even in the more narrow electorate of a major party primary are not ideologues and generally don’t vote this way. And they usually take account of the office the person is running for and weight it accordingly. I seen so many times the “most conservative” candidate lose in a GOP primary for reasons that have nothing to do with ideology. (Many Alabama GOP voters may very well think Moore is better suited for an office like Supreme Court judge than governor. It could be as simple as that.) Kokesh, by the same token, was probably seen as too young and radical by the older folk who probably make up the bulk of the GOP primary electorate in his district.
Rand Paul is the only Ron Paul-style candidate to win a statewide race. And he did so with a very cautious, careful and pragmatic campaign. It’s this style that has people guessing where he’ll be if he is elected but at least it gives him a chance. Losing a political race starts losing its nobility when you go through it enough times. But such campaigns are also why we must paid heed to the motto “put not one’s trust in princes” because what princes have to do to obtain power can be pretty distasteful if one values absolute adherence to principle.
Indeed the Paul’s exemplify the difficulty of running for office in culture that is hostile to their values. Only wholesale changes in attitudes and values within that culture would make their chances of winning much easier. Take homosexuals serving in the armed forces for example. I can recall, when the original debate took place some 18 years ago, the culture at the time made it clear this was something that was unacceptable. Now, well the House of Representatives just voted for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Look at how much the culture has changed to make such support for such a measure possible. Either wholesale change across the nation or decentralization towards our cultures of choice is the only way a Kokesh or Moore-type candidate can win in the future.
Or even allow Rand Paul to be Rand Paul