The Corner

Rand Paul’s Political Strategy

Here’s what Senator Rand Paul said in the video posted below:

I’ve been talking to a lot of the national leaders in the Republican party… and there are certain parts of the country we’ve given up on, the whole West coast and New England, so what I keep telling them is maybe we need some libertarian-type Republicans who might be popular in those areas. Maybe a less aggressive, more socially tolerant but still fiscally conservative policy that may be more libertarian might do better in California, might do better in Oregon, Washington, ne. And I think if we had that it might be a great strategy. Our problem in the presidential election is we’ve given up 150 electoral votes before we get started.

A few thoughts on the senator’s remarks:

1. I wouldn’t have thought that Rand Paul was one of the those libertarians who saw his philosophy as a combination of social liberalism and fiscal conservatism, since he himself opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. Perhaps he’s saying that the Republicans need candidates who are more libertarian-type than he is?

2. Plenty of “socially tolerant” Republicans have tried running in liberal areas of the country. Some of them have even succeeded, or succeeded for a time — but usually when they have, they haven’t been especially fiscally conservative. Think of Lincoln Chafee or Olympia Snowe.

3. In the last election, New Hampshire elected a senator and Maine a governor who oppose abortion and same-sex marriage. Rhode Island had a pro-life governor as recently as 2011. So Paul’s picture is overdrawn.

4. The Democrats do have a more solid electoral base than the Republicans. Not all of that is a result of social issues. It’s hard to believe it’s Republican social conservatism that has shut the party out in presidential years in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Wisconsin (all of which have or have recently had socially conservative governors). Some states really do seem to be off limits to a socially conservative presidential candidate — California for example. But look at the states a social liberal couldn’t win, and there seems to be a rough balance.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More