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Did Rand Paul Change the Republican Party for the Better in 36 Hours?
March 8, 2013, 11:47 pm
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Did Rand Paul Change the Republican Party for the Better in 36 Hours?:

Grace Wyler at Business Insider, who has been great on
the Ron Paul/Rand Paul/libertarians in the GOP beat for a long
time,
reports on what Rand Paul
might have done to change the GOP for
the libertarian better with his filibuster. The story quotes me a
bit.

Excerpts:

For libertarians, Paul’s
filibuster — and the groundswell of support for it across the
conservative spectrum
 —was a crowning moment,
signaling their reintegration into the mainstream Republican
Party…

“This was a very big deal. In 36 hours, the Republican
Party has completely changed,”
 said Brian
Doherty, a senior editor at Reason magazine who
has been covering the Paul movement for two decades.

“You literally saw the shift happen over the course of the day,”
Doherty said. “It started with Rand Paul, and then it was just
[Sens.] Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. And then you had people
like Marco
Rubio
 and Saxby
Chambliss
 joining in. And by the end of it, [Republican
Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell was on the floor saying he was
going to block [CIA Director John] Brennan’s confirmation, and [RNC
Chairman] Reince
Priebus
 was tweeting that Senators should go join Rand
Paul.”
“Who knows, maybe in two years, the filibuster won’t
seem like a big deal,” he added. “But today, it feels like
everything has changed. Today, it feels like the Republican Party
is different.” 

Doherty conceded that, for some conservatives, the embrace of
Paul’s civil liberties argument may be chalked up to antagonism
toward the Obama administration. But, he added, “if that’s what it
takes to get Rush
Limbaugh
 to say that he agrees with Rand Paul, that he’s
open to these ideas, I’ll take it.” 

Wyler quotes me accurately, as far as I remember, and captures a
moment of great excitement that, like many moments of great
excitement, may fade. We need to see how or if Paul’s
constitutional libertarianism keeps up respect and momentum in the
next weeks, months, and years.
I’ll be returning with a bit more perspective behind us next
week here at Reason with more thoughts on what the
filibuster and reaction to the filibuster might mean for
libertarian ideas about civil liberties and foreign policy in the
Republican Party–and the nation.

Wyler tells of how the pugnacious antiwar libertarian, and huge
fan of Ron Paul, Justin Raimondo had his mistrust of Rand turned
around over the course of the filibuster. I
blogged last month
about how Raimondo and others from the
antiwar right and libertarian movements were angry at Rand Paul for
helping filibuster Chuch Hagel’s nomination for defense secretary,
though Paul did end up voting for him.
Wyler gets some Paul staffers on the record about Paul’s goals
with the filibuster:

According to Paul aides and confidantes, the goal of his
filibuster was always to introduce ideas about civil liberties back
into the Republican discourse.
“Rand has always said that he wanted to be a leader on the
message of the Republican Party, and that means talking about old
ideas that were part of the party’s original message, and
introducing new ideas that might help the party broaden its appeal
to groups that may have been left out of the
conversation,” Doug Stafford, Paul’s Senate chief of staff,
told Business
Insider
.
“Rand is one of the only people who can speak to libertarians,
social conservatives, as well as your average mainstream Republican
voter.” 

Jesse Benton, the controversial former Ron Paul campaign leader
and now Mitch McConnell staffer, told Wyler that McConnell joined
Paul because “he was legitimately emotionally moved by
it.”
Wyler
interviewed me last May
about my book
Ron Paul’s Revolution: The Man and the Movement He
Inspired
.

I wrote around a month ago
for the New York Times 
on the growing importance
of Rand Paul and likeminded colleagues in the GOP, and didn’t know
how right that would seem, so soon.


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