Rand Paul 2016: Paul Throws Libertarians Under the Bus in Outreach to Evangelicals

In preparation for a 2016 presidential run, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is courting evangelical leaders. And we all know what that means! It's time to throw those hedonistic, libertine, drug-obsessed libertarians under the bus. The Washington Post reports on how that's going:

At a lunch Friday with about a dozen evangelical pastors in a Cedar Rapids hotel, the younger Paul assured the group that he disagrees with libertarians who support legalizing drugs. When one pastor inquired about ideological ties between Paul and his father, the senator asked that he be judged as his own man.

Paul said he believes in freedom and wants a "virtuous society" where people practice "self-restraint." Yet he believes in laws and limits as well. Instead of advocating for legalized drugs, for example, he pushes for reduced penalties for many drug offenses.

"I'm not advocating everyone go out and run around with no clothes on and smoke pot," [Rand] said. "I'm not a libertarian. I'm a libertarian Republican. I'm a constitutional conservative."

"He made it very clear that he does not support legalization of drugs like marijuana and that he supports traditional marriage," [said Brad Sherman of the Solid Rock Christian Church in Coralville, Iowa].

Just to hammer home what's been said already: Paul isn't a libertarian on drugs. He wants to keep everything illegal, but institute gentler penalties. That's not remotely libertarian. (Is it politically practical? Sure. So are farm subsidies.) 

As for "traditional marriage," here's how Paul is selling his position to evangelicals:

He said he's not ready to "give up on" the traditional family unit. But he added that it is a mistake for conservatives to support a federal ban on same-sex marriage, saying, "We're going to lose that battle because the country is going the other way right now."

"If we're to say each state can decide, I think a good 25 or 30 states still do believe in traditional marriage, and maybe we allow that debate to go on for another couple of decades and see if we can still win back the hearts and minds of people," he said.

"Win back the hearts and minds of people"? What does that even mean? That if we give the country enough time, a majority of voters will change their minds about extending equal protection to same-sex couples, and revoke it? And that would be a good thing?

Considering just how "radical" candidate Obama was, I can't help but wonder how Paul would be different from any other Republican president.

Mike Riggs is an associate editor at Reason.com, where this piece first appeared.

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Mike Riggs

Mike Riggs is an associate editor at Reason magazine and Reason.com. Prior to joining Reason, he was a senior staff writer at The Daily Caller, which he helped launch, and an entertainment editor at the Washington City Paper. Once upon a time, he was a Reason Burton C. Gray Memorial Intern. He has written about politics, policy, and culture for GQ, The New Republic, the Awl, GOOD, and the Washington Times; and appeared on Chicago Public Radio, the Dennis Miller Show, CNN, RTTV, and Fox News. In 2013, his story "How a Single Oxycontin Pill Nearly Ruined One Man's Life," was nominated for an award by the Western Publishing Association.

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