Kentucky Senator and capitalism enthusiast Rand Paul had a decent night where he stuck more closely to his libertarian principles rather than pander to the popular, authoritarian streak that figures like Donald Trump are currently capitalising. Admittedly he wasn’t given a particularly large amount of airtime but whenever he was on the screen he did the his usual thing of being right about 40% of the time before ruining all chance of me supporting him by his unbelievably moronic economic policies.
When discussing the temperament of Donald Trump, Paul derided him has using careless language and questioned whether people would want someone like Trump negotiating with Putin or Iran; he also likened Trump to somebody in Junior High because of his use of childish insults.
On China Paul vocally disagreed with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by saying that President Obama should negotiate with Chinese President Xi Jinping drawing comparison with negotiations with China and Ronald Reagan’s negotiations with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He also said that the US should continue speaking to Iran and that he would only tear up the Iran deal is they didn’t comply, reiterating his overall point by saying that it is important to “keep the lines of communication open”. The Kentucky Senator then went on to speak about Syria, specifically that had the United States bombed Assad, as was the position of President Obama and some other Republican candidates, ISIS would have been in control of Damascus. He also pointed out the fact that “every time [the US] has toppled a secular dictator, we’ve had chaos, the rise of radical Islam. and we’re at greater risk”; he also made the point that most US interventions in the Middle East have back-fired.
On the issue of birthright citizenship Paul said that Trump “has a bit of a point”, and explained that the 14th Amendment was written in regards to slaves and therefore may not necessarily apply to illegal immigrants. If, however, we are in the business of discounting amendments from the Constitution because they were contextually about slaves and are no longer applicable, then the 2nd Amendment, the sacred cow of conservative Republicans, should also be ignored, as this was added in order to allow Virginian militias to patrol the state border to prevent slaves escaping to Maryland where slavery had been banned.
On the economy Paul revealed his tax plan which was a flat 14.5% tax rate for both corporations and individuals, which is a massive tax break for the rich, as well as closing all tax loopholes. He also said that he believed that jobs were going overseas because of the burdensome tax code of the US, however this is false. The reason jobs are being outsourced is because many other countries have lower wages, and because of free trade policies like NAFTA and CAFTA, there are no tariffs on foreign goods coming into the US thus creating the economic incentive for companies to move jobs overseas where they can get away with paying lower wages.
On foreign policy the Kentucky Senator said that he had opposed the Iraq War, the Syrian intervention, and arming the Syrian rebels which he described as “our enemies”. He also pointed out that as a result of the chaos that came as a result of the Iraq, Iran has becoming more influential in the region as a counter-weight to Saudi Arabia- which is accurate. When later asked about what he would do if he were president, he said that there would be no more Iraq wars, he would arm the Kurds and use the USAF to assist them, and summed up by saying that it was not in the US’ national security interest to have another war in Iraq.
Paul was asked about his view on marijuana in which he said that he preferred “more rehabilitation and less incarceration”, pointed out the hypocrisy of candidates on the stage that smoked marijuana but supported the War on Drugs, such a Jeb Bush, and also pointed out that privileged people get caught less often than poorer people even though they do drugs at the same rate. He specifically said that if he was the president he would invoke the 10th Amendment and allow the states to decide. He was challenged on this position by Chris Christie who said that ‘gateway drugs’ shouldn’t be legalised, and responded by saying that Chris Christie didn’t believe in the 10th Amendment. The final comments of Rand Paul, who is a medical doctor, were about vaccines who, although admitted there was no medical basis for scepticism towards them, agreed with Donald Trump that all vaccines shouldn’t be given in a very short space of time by invoking the abstract idea of ‘freedom’.
In comparison with the first debate Paul did a much better job particularly in articulating his views on drugs and foreign policy which many Republicans, Democrats and independents agree with. His economic policies, despite their lunacy, would play well with a GOP base that think the idea of a flat tax is a good one however I would say that his potential boost in the polls was restricted by CNN’s appalling (no pun intended) allocation of time to each of the candidates. The policies of Rand Paul that would play well in the general election will not be as relevant in the Republican primary where detailed policy proposals and facts are treated with contempt.