Rand Paul changes his mind sometimes. As horrific as this may sound in today’s world of ideological purists demanding nothing less than absolute compliance from their party, it is the stuff that thinking men are made of.
It’s also how a thinking man gets elected. I am of the mind that a man should hold some virtues as sacrosanct, and keep everything else open for constant evaluation. It’s a proper mental exercise, if nothing more. If you are constantly evaluating your views, you are less-likely to fall into the party line trap.
I don’t agree with Senator Paul on aid to Israel. I stand with them in their right to self-determination and self-defense. That will never change. I support North Korea’s right to self-defense, as well. I do not support foreign aid, per se.
As a duly-licensed, board certified, practicing pragmatist, I support being realistic over ideological purity. I may choose to live my life in a largely ideologically pure manner, but my personal views are mine. You are not required to agree. Nor is my government. Rand Paul is solid on individual liberty, national defense, and most issues of import to me. Our disagreement over some issues doesn’t make him my 20% enemy, it makes him my 80% friend.
And what about same-sex marriage? Paul’s position — such marriages are morally wrong, but Republicans should stop obsessing about them — seems so muddled that an Iowa pastor recently confronted him in frustration.
“With all due respect, that sounds very retreatist of you,” minister Michael Demastus said he told Paul (R-Ky.) after the senator explained his position during a stop in Des Moines.
Paul has built a reputation as a libertarian ideologue, a Washington outsider guided by a rigid devotion to principle.
But his policy vision is, in fact, a work in progress. While he has maintained his core support for cutting spending and protecting Americans’ privacy rights, Paul has shaded, changed or dropped some of the ideas that he espoused as a tea party candidate and in his confrontational early days as a senator.
So what, exactly, does Rand Paul believe?
Taken together, these sources provide a picture of Washington’s most intriguing politician — a candidate still tinkering with his platform, even as he stands on it.
Paul’s evolving views have been on display most recently amid the national debate over how to confront the brutal Islamic State.
In June, when the militants had already seized large swaths of Iraq, Paul seemed skeptical about the value of targeting them with U.S. airstrikes.
“I’m not so sure where the clear-cut American interest is,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He noted that the Iraqi military had folded in the face of the group’s attacks: Why should the U.S. military have to intervene?
“What’s going on now, I don’t blame on President Obama. Has he really got the solution?” Paul said. “Maybe there is no solution.”
But more recently, after the videotaped beheadings of American journalists, Paul has come out in favor of airstrikes and other actions to “destroy” the group.
“If I had been in President Obama’s shoes, I would have acted more decisively and strongly against” the Islamic State, he wrote in Time magazine this month. “I would have called Congress back into session — even during recess,” to ask for explicit authorization.
For Paul, advisers say, being a realist means he is skeptical of every possible military action, until he is convinced that there is a crucial U.S. interest at stake and that the action will succeed.
This was not the first time Paul made a public reversal on a matter of foreign policy. In 2011, in his early, fire-breathing days as a senator, he proposed eliminating all U.S. foreign aid — even aid to Israel, considered sacrosanct in the Republican Party.
But after an outcry, he soon altered his proposal; he wanted instead to cut all foreign aid, except for $5 billion a year.
Why $5 billion? A Paul aide said that amount would give Israel its full share — more than $3 billion per year — and still have money left over.