Sen. Rand Paul is looking more and more like a presidential candidate, after less than a full term in the Senate, but he looks less and less like your run-of-the-mill presidential candidate — the ones intent on shoring up their base and getting "their people" out on election day.
Paul is pursuing a different strategy, one that has been abandoned and disparaged in the past 30 or 40 years. He is making appeals to groups on both ends of the political spectrum. Could it be that he thinks a (gasp!) moderate could win the presidency?
But Paul, whom few people would call a moderate, is really taking an even newer approach. He is appealing to stalwarts on the left and on the right. He has the revolutionary notion that the two groups have some things in common.
Paul has appealed to young, savvy technocrats by lambasting the National Security Agency and the constant spying this nation is engaged in. Paul says Americans have a right to privacy and certainly have a right to mind their own business without government snooping or interference. He has pitched his educational opportunities proposals to African-Americans, not your usual audience for Republicans. He has also appealed to died-in-the-wool conservatives with his stand against budget deficits and runaway federal spending. He has also called for less American involvement in the affairs of foreign governments. Paul sees limited government as serving both ends of the political spectrum.
An age when voters have less confidence in government and more doubts about the wisdom of foreign military interventions might be just the right time for a libertarian, which is the political description that best fits Senator Paul (whose father, Ron Paul, once ran for president on the Libertarian Party ticket). Libertarians believe in strictly limited government, and that includes limits on the size of the military establishment and intrusions of government spying. If Paul can temper some of his more strident positions and gain support from both ends of the political spectrum, he could emerge as a force in the wide-open 2016 Republican presidential contest.