Rand Paul: “Live and Let Live”

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Reason has posted an interview with the Kentucky senator. An excerpt:

REASON: Reason recently did a poll of millennials, a national poll. Only 22% called themselves Republicans or leaned that way. Millennials, there’s 80 million of them, they’re the future demographically. They overwhelmingly identify in favor of gay marriage, in favor of pot legalizing, in favor of vaping and online gambling. Can the Republican party shed the social conservative issues which seem very central to its concerns? How is that going to work? Can they win millennials without becoming more libertarian?

PAUL: I think Republicans can only win in general if they become more “live and let live.” Grover Norquist will talk about this sometimes, this “leave me alone” coalition. But in order [for the party to] work—and this is what a lot of people don’t realize this and they say “oh well we want the Republicans to be the pro-choice, pro-gay marriage party—it may not be that but it may be that there are people in the Republican party that have those positions and some who don’t, and that we all get along because we believe in limited government and we acknowledge that the federal government isn’t going to be involved in some of these issues anyways. And I think that “live and live, agree to disagree” kind of amalgamation of people in the party will allow us to be big enough to win. I agree with you a lot on young people but I think also some other libertarian issues like right to privacy, the NSA overzealousness. Young people are concerned about their cell phone, that’s the main thing they do with every hour of every day. I think if we became the party that’s going to protect their privacy, you could get a large switch of Republican vote.

I don’t think Republicans need to make a special point of explaining that you don’t have to be pro-life to be part of the party, as opposed to explaining that you don’t have to be against raising the minimum wage, or against Obamacare, or against raising taxes on high earners. I think these sorts of comments by Paul suggest a degree of defensiveness about the party’s pro-life stance, and a tendency to think of the politics of abortion as similar to the politics of same-sex marriage, that the evidence does not justify.

I do agree, though, that the saying “Live and let live” is a good one to think about when we consider the abortion debate.

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