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 believed that the populist Republican being referred to was Rand Paul. That was not necessarily the case then; however, it is now. This is not some naïve judgment. It is something that Democrats better take seriously before the coronation of our candidate. We better have a credible populist in the wing, as you'll see beneath the fold.
Rand Paul recently visited Howard University, one of the bastions of Black "intelligentsia." Yes, he had a few bouts of condescension. That said, Black folks are used to unnecessary pandering when visited by white conservative or liberal politicians who generally do not mingle with them. What he had to say about many policies that rank-and-file Democrats seem to run from have legs in communities that have seen the status quo maintained on drug and prison policies.
Paul’s recent immigration comments are lacking, but the truth is that a statement like the following has traction even with some Latinos, Africans and South Asians who simply want papers to stay:
"Are you willing to try to bring the 11 million people who are here, bring them out of the shadows, give them an existence, try to be more humane, and try to get a better situation for them? That could happen tomorrow,” Paul said on ABC’s "This Week."Paul has also visited the lion’s den of liberalism, the University of California, Berkeley, letting lose a speech in which he attacked the NSA and the CIA. This is something many young voters like. And this exchange appearing in Politico’s article is probative:
"The problem is, is the sticking point going to be we have to have immediate voting privileges for those who came here illegally," Paul added. "If the Democrats are willing to come halfway, I think we can pass some meaningful reform."
During the question-and-answer portion of the appearance, the moderator began, "There’s been pretty extensive media coverage of your recent visits to places that don’t usually vote Republican, like students at Howard University …"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.
"You mean like Berkeley?" Paul interjected, to laughter and applause.
Asked whether such efforts are an attempt to broaden his "personal appeal" ahead of 2016, Paul responded coyly, "Maybe."
"Part of it might be that," he said. "Part of it might be that the Republican Party … has to either evolve, adapt or die. … Remember Domino’s [the pizza chain] finally admitted they had bad crust? I think the Republican Party finally admitted it. OK, bad crust, we need a different kind of party."
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.