Several Republican presidential candidates, previously characterized as “top-tier,” have been withering away under the reflected glare of the Donald Trump campaign, or whatever it is. One of those unfortunates is Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky. Previously, he looked like someone who could bridge the chasm between the GOP’s nuttier precincts and the mainstream. Now, he looks like someone who’s fallen into that chasm, his poll numbers barely above Rick Perry/Bobby Jindal territory. (RealClearPolitics’s averaging of recent polls: Paul in 10th place with 2.6%. He’s been on a steady downward trajectory since late June, when he briefly topped the field at 13.8%.)
But have no fear, Aqua Buddha fans: State Rep. Paul Dame is here to tell you differently.
It’s no secret that the Republican Party is in need of revitalization. … And while a number of candidates talk a good game about building a “big tent” party, it has been largely empty rhetoric. Everyone agrees that we need to do more – but I only see one candidate for president who is actually DOING it. And that is Rand Paul.
Dame, one of three Vermont lawmakers to endorse Rand Paul, paints an astoundingly rosy picture of his candidate heroically venturing into Democratic* strongholds and converting the unenlightened (read: liberals) to his Libertarian-Lite banner. He is “winning support from minorities” and “young people” and “many independents and even some Democrats.” His recent appearance at a VTGOP fundraiser attracted “nearly 100 people who attended their first-ever Republican fundraiser.” Dame praises Paul’s “boldness” for daring to visit Vermont, as though he had to smash through a Liberal Police checkpoint to get in.
*Well, Dame uses the pejorative “Democrat” formulation, as do most Republicans. It’s “Democratic,” boys.
Reading Dame’s piece, you can see Rand Paul as the contemporary embodiment of the Ayn Rand hero: the granite-jawed Braveheart inspiring the benighted commonfolk with his steely boldness and plain-spoken wisdom.
Yeah, but then you look at those pesky polls and face the fact: Rand Paul is not leading a movement. He is tanking, big-time.
I suppose Dame could argue that the pollsters are targeting the Republican electorate, so they miss the rising tide of non-Republican support. Except, well, where’s the evidence of a mass movement? Where are the surging crowds at Rand Paul events?
Unhappily for Dame, those crowds are showing up for Vermont’s junior senator. Yeah, that guy.
While Bernie Sanders stokes the fires of class envy, Rand Paul has put together a tax plan that dramatically cuts taxes for middle class workers while eliminating lobbyist-secured corporate loopholes.
Maybe that’s it: Bernie’s attracting crowds through mindless rabble-rousing, while Paul is slowly but surely building an invisible army with his measured appeal to reason. Yuh-huh.
Truth is, Rand Paul was willing to spend a night in Vermont because he ain’t getting anywhere in New Hampshire, the one important state that ought to be receptive to his liberty-and-capitalism platform. Latest RealClearPolitics average of FITN polls: Paul is tied with Ted Cruz and Scott Walker for sixth place, with 4.7%.
In other words, he had nothing to lose by taking a night off from a race he’s already lost. Indeed, he probably got more airtime with New Hampshire voters by appearing in Vermont and being featured on Vermont TV stations than he would have gotten with yet another stock speech in Hooksett.
Paul Dame’s substance-of-things-hoped-for essay notwithstanding, I’m afraid Rand Paul’s journey through the heart of darkness to ultimate triumph is fated to remain in the fantasy realm. But hey, maybe that’s another part of his appeal to the young folks: his candidacy is painted in the bold strokes of role-playing games.
Problem is, it’s also just as imaginary.