Why I Do This: From Neocon Foreign Policy to Old Right
Some people’s primary political goal right now is to defeat Barack Obama and elect Mitt Romney president. I find this sort of useless to the degree that Obama’s potential replacement will be similar to Obama. Some people’s primary political goal right now is to re-elect Obama. I find this sort of useless to the degree that Obama is pretty much like his predecessor. Some people, and this includes dear friends and political allies, eschew the whole political process and instead find gratification in arguing over who is more libertarian. If this is what makes all three of these groups happy, this is fine. To each his own. I find all of it useless to the degree that it is, well, useless.
What interests me is more principled than the presidential horse race yet still more tangible than mere political theory. I came to the Ron Paul movement as a traditionalist conservative who had been a staunch supporter of Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaigns in 1996 and 2000. As a conservative, I believe in the 2nd Amendment. I believe in the 10th amendment. I’m a strict constitutionalist. I am pro-life. I want to abolish the IRS. I want to end the Fed.
But the issue that animates me the most is where I believe too many of my fellow conservatives think in liberal terms without even realizing it: foreign policy. A primary goal in my political life’s work has always been to steer conservatives and the Republican Party away from neoconservatism, a progressive and dangerous ideology, and back toward a more traditionalist conservative foreign policy.
Ron Paul was the beginning of making this attitudinal shift a reality. His son, Rand Paul, is integral in being part two of this revolution. A few choice quotes from this fantastic Politico piece published today, Rand Paul Goes National.
First and foremost:
Paul’s main goal, another adviser said, is “to fundamentally transform the way Republicans view foreign policy…”
Paul is staking out unorthodox ground on foreign policy for a Republican. Most prominent members of his party still hew closely to a George W. Bush-style philosophy of interventionism. It was only two years ago that Paul’s opposition to neo-conservative foreign policy led former Vice President Dick Cheney to cut an ad against him in the 2010 GOP Senate primary.
That makes Paul a rare Republican delivering a “come home, America” message at a time when polls show voters increasingly skeptical of overseas entanglements and concerned about government overspending. It gives him a distinctive issue on top of the many positions — on health care, deficit reduction, social issues and more — that he shares with the rest of the GOP. And as Ron Paul’s quirky coalition showed during the 2012 campaign, there’s an audience for an anti-interventionist message outside the Republican Party, too.
“Rand Paul is a key leader inside the GOP driving a return to a traditional, pro-American foreign policy that ensures a strong national dense, international commerce and diplomacy but avoids unneeded conflict and expensive, draining nation-building that uses our military as a global police force,” said Jesse Benton, a Paul family confidant who was recently named McConnell’s campaign manager for 2014.
Paul’s most immediate goal, however, is firmly claiming the role of foreign policy maverick within the Senate Republican caucus, even if that puts him at odds with the bulk of the conservative establishment.
“He is, at least right now, kind of following in his dad’s footsteps in the libertarian mode,” said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat. “He is becoming a national spokesman for that kind of philosophy and that kind of approach.”
What Republicans think about the issue of foreign policy is far more important than whether or not they hold power. If they believe the conservative position truly is spending trillions on mindless wars, sacrificing our soldiers for no discernible reason and making countless enemies needlessly, there really is little hope for our country in a fiscal, national security or even moral sense. To the degree that the Right begins to further follow the foreign policy path of Sen. Paul, conservatism wins. America wins. I win.