At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture


Rand Paul and GOP “Messaging”

posted by Jack Kerwick

Rand Paul’s nearly 13 hour filibuster on the Senate floor last week was a stroke of political genius that still has not yet been fully appreciated.

Those who compose the base of the GOP lost much of their morale during George W. Bush’s second term.  When the Democrats took back the Congress in 2006 and Barack Obama won the presidency two years later, it all but vanished.

Spirits began to stir once more during the midterm elections of 2010, it is true, but since then, they’ve again been reduced to dust and ashes.  Anyone who doubts this need only consider that some four million self-identified Republicans refused to vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan back in November.

Yet now, thanks to Rand Paul, and he alone, millions of Republicans from around the country have gotten their second wind.  They have been rejuvenated in a way, and to an extent, that the party hasn’t seen in years.

But even this understates the magnitude of what’s happened courtesy of Rand’s Senate stand, for it isn’t just that he reinvigorated the traditional base of his party.

Rand Paul’s move last week was a potential game-changer inasmuch as he garnered the respect and admiration, yes, but, also, the enthusiastic support of legions of just those voters who the GOP ceded to their competition long ago: independents, the young, and even some Democrats.

Even his critic John McCain acknowledged the influence that Rand Paul exerts over young voters when he castigated his colleague for exciting “impressionable libertarian kids in their dorm rooms”—you know, exactly those “kids” who would rather die than vote for most Republicans, but particularly the McCains of the party.

Many of us on the right have been arguing for quite some time that Republicans have what some have called a “messaging” problem.  As far as popular opinion is concerned, image has always counted for more than substance in politics.  For no people is this truer than our image-obsessed generation.

In other words, even if “the facts” are on a politician’s or party’s side, this by itself means nothing electorally speaking.  What does matter electorally, though, is that if those facts aren’t articulated passionately and in a way that provokes the popular imagination, those who possess them can go down to defeat. 

Rand Paul proved last week that he is well aware of all of this.

The substance of his filibuster concerns the issue of drone strikes against American citizens on American soil—an issue with which Americans from across the political spectrum are concerned.  However, it is the style with which Senator Paul packaged the substance of his speech that awakened Americans to this topic.

And it is the style that called forth their sympathies for Paul’s position while endearing him to them personally.

Frank Capra’s, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, is vintage Americana.  The film captured the heart of a nation.  But it did so in more than one way.  Countless millions of Americans from across generations love this film—including those who have not seen it. It is one of those stories that all remotely decent persons are supposed to love.  Yet Americans love this story because, like an air-brushed photo, it helps them to see just how good they can be—both individually and as a country. 

Paul invoked–and evoked–all of those wonderful emotions that are wrapped up in the popular consciousness with this Capra classic. He styled himself the quintessential idealistic non-political, or trans-political, politician concerned with nothing more or less than defending the American Way against the power lust of “the people’s” elected representatives.

As a result, his political fortunes, as well as those of his party, are looking much brighter now than they looked before Mr. Paul went to Washington.           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Previous Posts

Eric Garner and the Natural Law: What To Do When a Law is Unjust?
Eric Garner, many libertarians seem to think, was innocent as far as the natural law is concerned. “Natural law” is an ethical tradition with an illustrious pedigree stretching back millennia.  From this perspective, natural law is a transcendent moral order that provides the standard of jus

posted 8:33:32pm Dec. 14, 2014 | read full post »

More on the Eric Garner Grand Jury Decision
In this column, I recently argued in favor of a grand jury’s refusal to indict Officer Dan Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner.  To my dismay (and, frankly, shock), a great many “conservatives” and “libertarians,” I’ve had the great misfortune to discover, disagree vehemently with the

posted 7:56:58pm Dec. 09, 2014 | read full post »

The "Eric Garner" Case: Truth versus Ideology
From the rough that is contemporary America, the grand jury that just decided that there were no grounds on which to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner is the second diamond to be retrieved.  The first is the grand jury that refused to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the d

posted 10:02:40pm Dec. 04, 2014 | read full post »

How and Why TNT's "Dallas" Failed
Word broke last month that Dallas—TNT’s contemporary version of the spectacularly successful 80’s series—has been cancelled after three seasons.  The “Save Dallas” campaign designed to relocate the show to another network bore no fruit. To long-time fans like yours truly, this news i

posted 12:49:28pm Nov. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Two Things to Think About This Thanksgiving Day
With the exception of the usual suspects on the hard left, most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  Like Independence Day, Thanksgiving is a quintessential American holiday. Thanksgiving Day is a golden opportunity for celebrants to accomplish a couple of things. First, we should bear in m

posted 12:11:17pm Nov. 27, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.