Primary season is right around the corner, and in Kentucky competition is already under way for Jim Bunning's soon to be vacated Senate seat. Though there are many candidates, it seems that the race is narrowing down between Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo and Atty General Jack Conway for the Democratic nomination, and between Secretary of State Trey Grayson and Bowling Green opthalmologist Rand Paul for the Republican nomination.
Three of these candidates are well known to Kentuckians - we have voted for (or against) them before in primaries and state-wide elections, they have been public servants for years, and have established strong track records to run on or against.
One of these candidates is not like the others: Who is Rand Paul, and what rock did he crawl out from under?
Rand Paul is the child of former presidential candidate and US Representative Ron Paul of Texas. He has been a practicing opthalmologist in Kentucky for 18 years, but has never held public office. Dr. Paul has never been a US Representative, a state representative, a state senator, a mayor, an alderman, or even a dog catcher.
However, Dr Paul has done plenty of campaigning, both for Republican candidates and for his father. It is difficult to classify Paul's beliefs. It seems he shares his father's positions in almost every way, a strict libertarian point of view that he claims is constitutional but is clearly at odds with the Constitution. It seems that Rand is libertarian except when it comes to national defense and abortion. He seems to support extending the Republican Party's welfare program for inefficient defense contractors but does not support government funding for national parks. He can't support government funding and organization of public schools but he can support government interference and abrigement of women's reproductive rights. This conflicted point-of-view is probably not a desirable trait in a Senator who will be voting on nominees to the Supreme Court of the United States.
I am concerned that when his website lists his issue stances, there is a link for 'home schooling' but none for actual education. Tell me again: what is the hardline libertarian point-of-view on public schools?
Rand Paul also clearly believes in the one-government conspiracy theory that is continually raised by his firebrand father. His disposition towards agencies like the UN, the IMF, and the Federal Reserve and his belief that these organizations threaten the general territorial sovereignty of the United States betrays his paranoia about global aid and conflict resolution forums. Is this the kind of individual that Kentucky voters want advising the President on foreign policy?
Apparently it is. Paul has surged ahead of Trey Grayson in the polls. He is also raising money hand-over-fist. At this rate, unless Mongiardo or Conway emerge as viable candidates to serve in the US Senate, Kentucky is going to elect an extremist to represent them in the Senate. Rand Paul can do far more damage and field far more influence in the Senate than his influential father has from the house. Keep in mind that Dr. Paul would vote to deny our children adequate public schooling and to remove the United States from the global political arena. Did I mention that he supports the TEA Party movement?
This is not a zero-sum, status-quo election if the Republicans do end up nominating Rand Paul. Jim Bunning is a rational moderate compared to the hardline stances of Dr. Paul. Let us hope that the GOP is not really ready to take this lurch to the far right, because Kentucky is a state volatile enough to accidentally elect an eccentric hardliner to the most prestigious legislative body on the planet.