As the first year of President Obama’s second term begins to wind down, the next presidential election is still quite a ways away and although there are clearly no front-runners or defined leaders of either party right now, it is not too early to discuss some potential rising stars that may be fit for the challenge.
One person who should definitely not be ruled out is Rand Paul.
The junior senator from Kentucky and son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul, elected in 2010 to replace Jim Bunning, has attracted a lot of attention in recent months in budget debates and the government shutdown saga. Paul’s medical background combined with his libertarian ideology is very reminiscent of his father, but his young age, fresh energy, and Tea Party allegiance will allow him to appeal to many different classes of voters.
First and foremost, Rand Paul is best known as a staunch advocate for transparency in government. He has expressed his support for Congressional term limits, a balanced budget amendment, and the Read the Bills Act. In light of the upcoming confirmation of Federal Reserve Chairman nominee Janet Yellen, Paul is pushing for an audit of the Reserve, who he argues has operated in much secrecy for nearly a century.
During the infamous government shutdown this past month, Paul called out Democratic leaders on their scare tactics in a television interview.
He claimed that warning people of a U.S. credit default was irresponsible because a default was not possible based on the prioritization of debt interest payments. Americans have become less and less trusting of the government’s spending over the last decade since debt has soared into the trillions, so an advocate for financial balance and transparency such as Rand Paul will resonate with many people.
The era of an establishment-dominated republican party has fallen into fast deterioration, as the days of wealthy, popular party figureheads such as Reagan, Nixon, and the Bushes has gone out of style in recent years. This was increasingly obvious in last year’s elections when Mitt Romney, a wealthy businessman and seasoned politician failed to win over the support of many borderline conservative blue collar folks, notably in his home states of Massachusetts and Michigan.
Today’s conservative voters have made one think clear – they will not get behind someone who they feel has lost touch with the everyday American and his core values.
Remember one of Obama’s key weapons back in 2008? Young, college-aged liberals and libertarians between the ages of 18 and 30. Then-Senator Obama was instrumental in reaching out to, connecting with, and energizing this bloc of adults previously notorious for avoiding the polls altogether.
He ignited a spark within many of these people, a spark of disapproval and mistrust of the Bush administration and used that to his advantage against John McCain, an older, white, established Republican. Don’t be surprised if Paul uses similar tactics against the Democratic Party in 2016, after al,l he is a young libertarian who comes across as just an average guy.
It’s no secret that the GOP is divided between the wealthy political veterans and the energized, small-government advocating newcomers.
The divide cost the party a lot of seats in the last two elections and will continue to do so unless they can agree on the right man to stand behind. The pool of candidates is vast and ambiguous right now but one man who should not be overlooked or counted out is Rand Paul.