Like Father, Like Son

By Bobbie Kirkhart

PaulRand Paul emulates his father in almost every way. Almost.

:: Ron Paul is a physician; Rand Paul is a physician.
:: Dad was in the House of Representatives; son is in the Senate.
:: Ron is a Libertarian-leaning Republican; Rand is a Libertarian-leaning Republican.

The Senator Paul and the former Congressman Paul are in the mainstream of the Republican Party on many issues:

On economic issues, they would lower the corporate tax and generally lower taxes on all businesses, support a constitutional amendment to force the government to maintain a balanced budget, reduce Social Security, and substitute the current progressive tax system with a flat tax. They oppose, as economically bad, regulation on industry to lessen climate change.

Both are against national education standards, in favor of school choice (government giving money to parents to send their kids to private schools), and would eliminate the cabinet Department of Education. They oppose affirmative action to create diversity.

Both are anti-abortion.

They differ from other Republicans, often greatly, in their zeal for equality in the justice system, in their support for a substantial relaxing of drug laws, both on the grounds of privacy and on the observation that enforcement is unequal, too often targeting minority communities. Dad would like to see Guantanamo Bay closed, while son won’t go that far but advocates for trials and habeas corpus rights for detainees.

With the above exception on abortion, they are adamant on privacy. The young Dr. Paul spoke to the senate for ten and a half hours straight in his ultimately successful attempt to remove the power of the National Security Agency to maintain telephone records of Americans.

Both men differ most prominently from other Republicans on military and foreign policy. They would slash the defense budget, deeply cut foreign aid, especially that which goes to Israel, and maintain a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Ron Paul ran for president three times, and Rand is running now. And this is the big difference between them: although he did his best, Ron was content to be a gadfly, not softening any of his opinions for political gain. Rand seems to think he can win. To this end, he has modified some of his stances, though only slightly. Also, he has emphasized his support for civil rights and our anti-ISIS air strikes. He makes numerous statements that he stands “with Israel.”

Can he win the presidency? He has no more chance than his father did, but if the field stays crowded late into the process, he has an outside chance of winning the Republican nomination, and that would change the definition of Republican for years to come.

Bobbie Kirkhart is vice president of the Atheist Alliance of America and serves on the board of Camp Quest, Inc., a summer camp for children of freethinking families. She is a past president of the Atheist Alliance International as well as a frequent contributor to U.S. freethought publications.