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.

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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.