Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) doesn’t understand how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 improved America. He doesn’t understand why you shouldn’t introduce unfounded WorldNetDaily conspiracies into Senate testimony. And now he doesn’t “understand” same-sex marriage.
“I believe in traditional marriage,” Paul told Bryan Fischer on the Focal Point radio show. “I really don’t understand any other kind of marriage. Between a man and a woman is what I believe in. I just don’t think it’s good for us to change the definition of that.”
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What Rand Paul does understand is how to thread the needle between being a “libertarian” and a “social conservative” much better than his father — former congressman and serial presidential candidate Ron Paul — did.
Both father and son share the same far-right anti-abortion rights view that allows them into mainstream Republican politics. But Rand, who seems to be positioning himself for a run for the presidency in 2016, has figured out how to de-emphasize the stands that marginalized his father — non-interventionism, smaller military, drug legalization — and play up the issues that endear him to the right — spending cuts, conspiracy theories, hating Obama.
Just the fact that Rand Paul appeared on the radio show of American Family Association’s Fischer shows that he knows how to pander to the far right.
Fischer, who recently used Todd Akin as an example of how the GOP isn’t the “stupid party,” was one of the few public figures to attack Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. Fischer’s views are almost a Picture of Dorian Gray of American society. As we grow more progressive every day, his ferocity at gay Americans and women only deepens.
Yet the younger Paul — whose “let the states decide” view on same-sex marriage veers toward the views of President Obama and Dick Cheney — was able to find common ground with Fischer by exposing the anti-marriage rhetoric that social conservatives love before moving on to his actual view, which seems to be in opposition of the Defense of Marriage Act that House Republicans are spending millions to defend. But he even frames that defense in terms social conservatives will appreciate.
“We should try to keep it as a state issue,” he said. “My fear is that in federalizing it, we’re going to lose the battle for the whole country. And keeping it state-by-state, which is the way marriage has always been adjudicated, that we’ll still have areas that will continue to have traditional marriage. I think we’re losing in large areas of the country now. If the urban centers are able to dictate for the rest of the country what our definition on marriage is, I’m a little concerned about that.”
States do have their own guidelines for marriage, but the issue of marriage equality was nationalized by the Supreme Court when it invalidated all laws banning interracial marriage in 1967. The Supreme Court could make a similar stand on same-sex marriage when it rules on California’s Proposition 8 later this year. DOMA will also be contested in the Court in the next session. Federal judges have already overturned the law and few expect it to stand.
States’ rights is the sweet spot for Rand Paul to connect with social conservatives. As a libertarian, he believes that government shouldn’t be able to limit freedom. But as a social conservative, he makes an exception for state governments — and things he “doesn’t understand.”Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 The National Memo