Rand Paul’s visit: Let the party begin
We were contemplating what to say about Sen. Rand Paul’s recent pre-presidential campaign stop in Concord when he sent us a letter, sort of. It had our post office box number, but the addressee was the Monadnock PAC. That’s a political action group affiliated with former Republican congressman Charlie Bass.
Senator Paul, Charlie doesn’t live here.
Neither Paul’s visit nor the letter is surprising at this point in the primary process. But together, they do suggest how much the senator and his party have to change if they want the next presidential race to end differently than the last one did.
Paul spoke at the state Republican Party’s Liberty Dinner, and in doing so he accomplished three things. He impressed the crowd of 500 true believers. He helped the party raise money – in part by writing a check for $10,000 himself. And he fueled expectations that he’s a candidate by refusing to say so.
On the other hand, there is the matter of his message. Paul offered this in the way of a mission statement: “We need to be that party of opportunity.”
If that sounds familiar, perhaps you are recalling the Republican Party’s 2012 platform, which runs to 62 pages and begins, right there in the second paragraph, with: “The Republican Party is the party of opportunity.”
So Americans get that already and voted no. Saying it again won’t change that. What will, Paul said, is showing that Republicans care for the downtrodden and “look more like America.” The party, he explained, needs black, brown and white people; people with or without tattoos; with long or short hair; and with or without beards.
That leaves out a lot of dimensions – what about height? – and doesn’t answer the question of how a party that has fallen out of step on gay rights and other social issues while offering nothing new in the way of policies is going to broaden its appeal.
But that’s not unusual, as a party gathers itself after a defeat. Democrats have been there, too. The next few years are for testing ideas and refining the pitch.
There is also the need to boost the spirits and tap the wallets of core supporters – which brings us to that letter. It was written by Paul on behalf of the Leadership Institute, a group dedicated to turning back “radical billionaires” on the left and their “socialist ideas” that President Obama plans “to ram down our throats.”
If the execution of the mailing is any indication, Paul and the institute need to step up their game if they hope to turn back anyone, never mind a mob of left-leaning billionaires with violent tendencies.
First, there’s getting details like the address right. The mailing is 11 pages long – in the Twitter age? – and each is printed on only one side. (Anti-government waste!) We pity the intern who licked the 10 stamps used to cover the postage, nine of them 13-centers celebrating the Founding Fathers and the 10th a conservation stamp featuring a Great Gray Owl who must be wondering why he’s associated with an interest group that equates regulation with socialism.
It’s amateurish. But again, there’s time, and perhaps Paul, the institute and the party will make the most of it. After all, Republicans are the party of opportunity.