"It is something that is consistent with my religious beliefs as well as my lawmaking that you should get a second chance." Rand Paul reiterated today. Sofar the implications of Rand Paul's words at a Republican convention in Iowa for the ongoing debate concerning immigration reform, his outreach to evangelicals and his effort to repair his alleged Southern racist/ civil rights act 'problem' have been overlooked.
Most commentators have focused on the effort to reach out to minorities. And that is certainly part of it. The need for change in this regard is central to his campaign as his friend and seasoned fundraiser Nate Morris said in an interview last week 'the GOP needs to change in order to succeed'. But there is more.
Rand speaks the language of Evangelical republicans while staying true to himself. Something similar happened at the faith and freedom Coalition Conference when he quoted Os Guinness: 'America's problem is not wolves at the door but termites at the floor'. His message on talkradio “I think that our country needs a spiritual cleansing, I really think we need a revival in this country — and I do need your prayers and I do need the strength to go on with this, because this isn’t always easy.” obviously resonates with anyone familar with early US history and the history of the Republican party. Folks that think they can take Rand Paul down in Iowa like they did with Ron Paul a few years ago, will have a rude awakening. But there is more.
Rand's words also draw a sharp contrast with the tea party rhetoric against illegal immigrants 'breaking the law'. He makes clear he isn't part of this 'novationist' faction inside the republican party that thinks illegal immigrants that 'broke the law' should not have a second chance. Novatianists were early Christians that followed Antipope Novatian, who refused readmission to communion of those baptized Christians who had denied their faith or performed the formalities of a ritual sacrifice to the pagan gods. The novatianists were declared heretic by Rome.
The 'we believe in redemption' approach strikes at the heart of the 'rule of law' argument used by the anti-illegal immigrant crowd (and Ted Cruz), it firmly establishes Paul's thoughtleadership among the different subgroups of the Republican big tent coalition and it adresses his own weakness.
And this last point is precisely why the 'we believe in redemption. We believe in a second chance' approach is a brilliant strategy to break away from the tea party and the libertarian groups and break in to larger segments of the Republican base and beyond. But it is even more brilliant because it adresses his own baggage and history, his own weaknesses and shortcomings as potential candidate for President of the United States. 'We believe in Redemption. We believe in a second chance' is in the first place good news for Rand Paul himself.