Democrats can continue to disregard Rand Paul at their peril, especially when he begins to sound like liberal Detroit activist Maureen Taylor. Simply put, Democrats must take heed of Paul's Time op-ed titled We Must Demilitarize the Police, in which he writes:
When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.Jump below the fold for more.
Given these developments, it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them. Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.
This is part of the anguish we are seeing in the tragic events outside of St. Louis, Missouri. It is what the citizens of Ferguson feel when there is an unfortunate and heartbreaking shooting like the incident with Michael Brown.
Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention. Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.
In those few paragraphs, Paul is taking a chip out of the Obama coalition with a perceived acknowledgment of a racial issue that many Democrats do nothing about. At the same time, he keeps his base by framing it as an overreaching government. He is doing this with many other issues, aiming at different sections of the Obama coalition.
A few months ago I wrote two articles. The first, Is Hillary Clinton the president we need at this time?, examined some of the potential problems Clinton would face as the Democratic nominee. In that piece, I explained how she could be triangulated by a populist Republican:
If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, as a Democrat it would be better than any Republican getting elected. Given Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street baggage however, the triangulation used by the Clintons against the Republicans in the past may just be used against them in 2016. A populist Republican with limited Wall Street ties, with a fairly liberal social stance on marijuana, marriage equality, immigration reform, incarceration (mandatory minimums), and women’s rights is out there waiting. Anyone following the news can see that Republican in the making.Many had assumed that I was referring to Rand Paul at that time, and it's true that I had him among many in mind. A few weeks later I wrote Don’t laugh, but Rand Paul could be our next president. Many laughed and assumed anyone who believed Rand Paul could win the presidency was naïve or simply did not understand his past utterances on civil rights, his past associations, and past faux pas. That is not the case.
Anyone who reads Daily Kos and other liberal and progressive blogs cannot be fooled by Rand Paul—he's a true Republican Libertarian with a touch of "Dixiecratocracy." The problem is that most voting Americans are not the well-informed, and most members of the traditional media are lazy or programmed to misinform by the plutocracy.This week I wrote a post, Hillary Clinton's Atlantic interview may be fatal to her chances for the presidency. A few readers saw the title as a hyperbole. While today it probably is a hyperbole, soon it may not be. In her interview, Clinton displayed very little nuance on Israel or terrorism. In effect, she sounded like a neocon lite. She also adopted a Republican talking point on the economy without voicing the reality of Republican policies stagnating the U.S. economy.
Paul does not need to blow up the Obama coalition to win—he simply needs to skim the fat. His little excursions into the liberal base can do just that. And the truth is, his base is much more committed to winning and voting than our base. Just take a look at the recent FL-13 special election for evidence.
It would be irresponsible if liberals do not start taking concrete steps now to be inoculated on the populist flank. Taking the threat seriously will help not only in the presidential race, but in every district.
The biggest fear is that if there is a coronation of a select few, many potential candidates will remain undeveloped. Worse is the inability to recover from an unknown. The fact that Ronald Reagan and George Bush were elected presidents of the United States means it is not all that farfetched to wake up and discover that Rand Paul could be our next president.
Many now tout the Clintons as being the wise ones in the Democratic Party. It was not so when Bill Clinton was in power. Many now assume former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are politically virtually infallible. They should recall that President Bill Clinton never got 50% of the vote and that absent a strong third party candidate he may not have been president.Staunch Democrats should want two things: a candidate who has a real possibility of winning out of the box, and a candidate who speaks to the needs of the poor and working middle class.
With all his faults President Obama won over 50% of the vote for his election and reelection. He passed a healthcare bill that has eluded presidents for nearly a century. He has changed our foreign policy from brute force to a game of chess (sometimes even good chess players make bad moves). And he has kept the country viable throughout Republican intransigency, sabotage by certain corporations, and a corrupt Supreme Court. Hillary Clinton should remember that if Al Gore had run on Bill Clinton’s record, the Supreme Court would not have had the chance to appoint George W Bush president. Running from her record with President Obama is not a winning strategy.
There are two Republicans that have begun the triangulation process. Rand Paul’s isolationist, no war, marijuana leniency, prison reform policies, and his new found love for non-white people could pay dividends in our low information society. A new Mitt Romney finding love for the 47% by supporting a living wage may make some give him a second look. It is imperative that there are other credible candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Howard Dean, Amy Klobuchar, or other more middle class centric candidates in the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary. Otherwise the 2016 coronation of Hillary Clinton will look just like her 2008 coronation, not in a primary but in the actual presidential race.
In a polarized nation, Republicans do not vote for Democrats and there's no point in tailoring a message to attempt to appease them. Americans want a leader they believe speaks to their economic problems and yes, their safety, via a non-interventionist international policy. They want to know their new leader will be focused on their problems. That is why they elected and re-elected President Obama. If Hillary Clinton is to win, she must not come across as she did in The Atlantic interview. Hillary Clinton can only win with the Obama coalition.