Saturday, March 22, 2014

Taking The GOP Back To It's Abolitionist & Whig Roots

In his speech at Berkeley Rand Paul quoted his independent colleague from Vermont and linked the debate on NSA to the burning of bibles in 16th century England. Both signal that he is not just a 'libertarian' but is aiming to emphasize his links to the abolitionist movement, Thaddeus Stevens was from Vermont, and the roots of the Whig struggle in Britain that eventually led to the glorious revolution in 1688. That, as Ruth Marcus writes in the WaPo, is the reason 'Rand Paul is the most intriguing — and for Democrats, perhaps the most frightening — figure in today’s Republican Party'. Vincent Harris, a veteran GOP digital strategist (Mike Huckabee's campaign in 2008) who counts Texas Sen. Ted Cruz among his current clients recently said: “He is the default leader on privacy in the Republican Party, and I think there’s a big segment of even the conservative primary electorate who are against big government and the nanny state and are very appreciative of Sen. Paul’s comments, think it’s a positive in a presidential primary.” Social conservatives have been a coveted segment of the American electorate. Think for example of the polygamy issue added to the Republican platform in 1856. But connecting policy today to the much deeper roots of the American revolution and abolitionism will be very hard to brand as 'liberal' by movement conservatives inside the Republican party. Sofar Paul's critics, folks like Colson aid and Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, the perennial Jennifer Rubin or the Salon crowd don't seem to notice what he is actually trying to do. Even Kevin D. Williamson, in his piece Ready for Rand?, does not notice the underlying strategy of taking the party away from movement conservatism to it's Gettysburg roots.

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