Yesterday I went to Brookline, NH, to see Rand Paul speak. I’d reserved a free ticket for the event on the hope of doing a freelance article, but I didn’t get a response to my query, so I was just there for myself. I still approached it like a reporter.
This wasn’t a big, formal event. The Brookline Event Center is a corrugated metal auction house with a dirt parking lot, and the crowd wasn’t much over a hundred people. He started off by letting people have their pictures taken with him. Anyone could have shot him — except that anyone who tried would have had bullets in him from a dozen guns within seconds. This is New Hampshire. Physical appearances in the audience were pretty varied, when you consider that rural New Hampshire is very heavily light-skinned.
His talk was aimed at a thinking, liberty-loving audience, quoting Milton Friedman, Thomas Paine, and Adam Smith. It was the message I wish he’d focus on all the time: cutting government. Even when he talked about defunding Planned Parenthood, he said it was just one of “thousands and thousands” of things that the government should defund. In talking about jobs, he said that the US scares businesses away, mentioning Burger King’s reincorporating in Canada as an example. He proposed replacing the entire tax code with a 14.5% income tax for everyone (but didn’t say how to retire the huge national debt). He criticized both Democrats and Republicans for handing out favors to supporters and said that the way to reduce influence is to reduce government.
The worst thing presidents have done, he said, wasn’t any specific action like Obamacare, but causing the long-term collapse of the separation of powers, a process that began as far back as Wilson. He criticized Congress for putting all the budget issues into one Continuing Resolution instead of breaking it up into a dozen appropriation bills that could pass or fail separately.
He talked about bringing his message to new people who have long been disgusted with the Republican Party and said that people are open to new ideas. He wants the Republican Party to become the “party of justice.”
On the negative side, he said three times that he would “do whatever it takes” to secure the border. At least he ruled out building a wall over the whole border. He also made a point of saying, “I don’t see immigrants as bad people,” and made the valid point that open borders and a welfare state are a very problematic combination.
Every so often, I get really disgusted with some of the things Rand Paul says, but after hearing his talk, I think he really does believe in the principles he talks about. At the same time, he really wants to get the nomination, so he’ll say things that appeal to social conservatives. Certainly he’d be a vastly better president than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.