George W. Bush has not gone away. Alluding to the former president directly, or simply to the years directly prior to this presidency remains a go-to-move for the current president. But in all fairness, isn’t it time President Obama add a new move to his repertoire?
The Sierra Club may be on to something with Rand Paul. The environmental group is taking aim at Paul with a new video entitled “Rand Paul: In His Own Words.” I wasn’t surprised that the Sierra had produced it because the video simply outlines Paul’s ideas about several environmental issues. The Senate candidate’s ideas are clear and divisive. Making the election a mandate on Paul, which comes with risks that I will soon discuss, may be a plan that Democrats should consider.
Like I said, Paul’s ideas are clear and divisive. President George W. Bush was and is divisive, but he was rarely clear. Paul has been outspoken, to say the least. And, unlike Bush, he is running for office. The Sierra Club’s assault simply points out what many on the left would call extreme positions. Naturally, the video focuses on Paul’s feelings about the environment. In the video, Paul calls the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) an agency “run amuck;” he said Obama’s COP 15 visit was an “apology for the Industrial Revolution;” he said “accidents happen,” when talking about the BP oil spill; Paul begins the video by saying mountaintop removal mining is okay. This doesn’t even get into Paul’s questionable views on civil rights. It seems that making this election a mandate on his views may be the wedge issue Democrats need.
Now for the risks.
Paul was the first big Tea Party name to get past primary season this year. His libertarian ideas are the same ideas that so many Americans are rallying behind from coast to coast. In a time of huge national debt and frustration over a seemingly ineffective government, Paul is for fiscal responsibility and rugged individualism. And let’s not forget his Libertarian pedigree. Other than Barry Goldwater, there is perhaps no bigger name than Ron Paul, father of the “Ron Paul Revolution,” and Rand Paul. Rand Paul has Libertarian legitimacy that Joe Miller in Alaska, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, and even Sarah Palin in a Fox studio near you, don’t have. Attacking him may ignite a bigger fight from the right — and it may be a losing cause.
But this move would draw a clear line in the sand — a line that would provide voters with choices. The line may fire up the environmental and progressive and even moderate wings of Democrats as much as it could fire up the Libertarian wing of the GOP. By my count, that’s a three-to-one wing advantage for Democrats.
Rand Paul’s own words provide choices on real issues. It keeps the debate away from momma grizzlies and witchcraft. It focuses the debate on ideas. If Democrats think they are in the mainstream, they should make this election about the Libertarian prince’s ideas.
Let the votes be cast and the results fall where they may. Democrats may win or lose, but at least they will all know where the country stands on the issues — and at least this time it won’t be about George W. Bush.