Senator Rand Paul gave the keynote address at the Harris County GOP Lincoln-Reagan dinner a few weeks ago. I was struck by how candid he was about how the GOP must reinvent itself if it wants to remain relevant. He garnered some boos by calling for the Republican part to expand its base, by taking different positions on immigration, criminal law, and other social issues. Paul spoke directly to the fact that libertarians must reach out to minority groups, many of whom have long since been ignored and abandoned by the right. Specifically, all of these positions must move in a more libertarian direction. This seems to be Paul’s standard stump speech now, in what seems to be an inevitable march towards 2016.
Paul made similar comments to Glenn Beck recently:
“I think Republicans will not win again in my lifetime…unless they become a new GOP, a new Republican Party. It has to be a transformation. Not just a little tweaking at the edges.” …
Republicans haven’t gone to African Americans or to Hispanics and said, ‘You know what? The War on Drugs, big government, has had a racial outcome. It’s disproportionately affected the poor, and the black and the brown among us. We need to have better criminal justice.’ That message will resonate. Republicans haven’t been bringing that message.”
In the Daily Beast, Nick Gillespie writes about Paul’s libertarian tone.
Since assuming office over the initial objections of the senior senator from Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2010, Rand Paul has injected an unmistakably libertarian element into national politics. He’s called for major, across-the-board cuts to federal spending, pushed back against the Great American War Machine, and punked the D.C. establishment’s love of drone attacks and secret surveillance in a kidney-busting, 13-hour filibuster that set Twitter afire like a Miley Cyrus twerkathon. …
Unlike most of his Republican colleagues, Paul has also shown an interest in reaching out to minorities, especially by championing sentencing reform as it relates to the all-too-bipartisan War on Drugs (Vice President Joe Biden who created the drug czar’s office as a senator, still railsagainst pot as a “gateway drug”). …
Paul recognizes that the way forward on the national stage is not to get hung up on social issues (marriage equality, abortion, immigration) that act as dog whistles for the party faithful but do little to address widespread concerns about the size, scope, and competence of government
He elaborated on the diversity point as well.
“There is a struggle going on within the Republican Party,” he said, Politico reported. “It’s not new and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m proud of the fact that there is a struggle. And I will struggle to make the Republican Party a different party, a bigger party, a more diverse party and a party that can win national elections again.”