I know not what path he had to walk, endure, or navigate through the emotional landmines of events called his earlier life as a son, student, doctor, husband and father.
I have somewhat of an idea of the path he is walking now in Washington and back home in Kentucky. Having worked in both political arenas, I saw firsthand how the White House, Congress, and the states dance the dance of intergovernmental relations. The dance is all about power gained, power lost, and the perception of power or positioning for power. Most often noble ideas and moral principles are the first casualties of political shove and counter shove.
Many of my liberal, progressive Democratic and independent friends have criticized me for my writings and observations of the Kentucky junior senator. On the surface, it is easy to label Rand Paul. Some of my liberal friends think of him as “so anti government” as to be a threat to America’s future. Many of my friends who are very conservative West Kentucky old guard Republicans tell he is something of a modern day “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” – a man who is very confused about how government should work.
A MAN WITHOUT LABELS
This man is without labels. You cannot call him conservative, liberal, independent, progressive, or libertarian. He is all of these. His core values reflect elements from each of these philosophical movements. Yet, so far he is resisting the seductive ease of becoming full of himself and being placed on the pillar as Washington Insider for life as a professional politician much like First District Congressman Ed Whitfield.
In some ways, he has moments of Wendell Ford about him. He doesn’t know it yet, but like Wendell, he is a man of the people. He moves like a reformer while making his way through the Republican jungle of conflicting and competing national and Kentucky GOP power games.
And unlike many of his contemporaries within the GOP leadership, Rand Paul connects with the people in feeling their pain. At town hall meetings or at public hearings over shortages of money, Paul has given no promises, save one, that he would work toward finding answers to problems.
With every conflict, debate, town hall meeting he grows in strength and sureness of his purpose. I suspect Rand Paul views his role within American politics to be that one place where all of us must eventually move: the calm center in the hurricane of fiscal irresponsibility and mindless wastefulness of modern American life.
The yellow brick road of modern America is brick by brick being redefined as a political, social, economic, military, and environmental battlefield over who will have the right to shape and lead America into the 21st Century. We are no longer in Kansas. America is deep into an alternative space. For many there is no longer a safe haven. All that is old, familiar, stable, known, and comfortable is rapidly being jettisoned for the greedy speculation of Wall Street, power of dominance over whole economic classes of people, and the siren call of empire in a troubled world.
When the fog of public discourse from the many voices right, left, and center have stopped screaming at each other; when the day is passing into tomorrow and the future is being born from the present; Rand Paul will become the right man, at the right time in history, with the right core message, with the right blend of common sense and internal stubbornness to force history to bend.
Throughout history, such times where the fabric of civilization had to “bend” were a part of national internal revolution of ideas, power, wealth, and the charting of a future controlled by the victors of the “bending” process.
Some political experts write of this moment in American history as being much like that period of 1850s in which the nation was torn apart by the rancor of regional political and economic agendas. The result of that bending was the blood letting of the Civil War.
Others compare this time to the Robber Barons era just inside the turning of the 20th Century from 1900 through 1928/29. It was an age of pure capitalism run amuck over the American economic and social landscape. A newer theory being developed is that we are entering into a 1960s hippie protest period with the arrival on the national scene of the Wall Street Occupiers movement.
Each theory has merit but each is also wrong. The commonalty of these theories is (1) distrust of authority (2) misuse of public funds to aid corporations (3) destruction of working class (4) massive bank crisis and corruption (5) disruptive technology (6) weak or corrupt leadership in Congress, and (7) a helpless feeling by the general population that America had lost its way.
The major difference now and then is the rise and struggle of the American middle class. The social and economic experiment rising out of World War II and the New Deal gave power to a new way of life and prosperity. New towns and suburbs of new homes, new cars, new appliances defined a new kind of strength in America as a global power. From the 1950s up through the 1990s, this way of life endured for millions of Americans.
With the dawn of the 21st Century and wars in the Middle East, Americans were told by their President and economic leaders to shop ‘till they dropped as their best way to ensure the true spirit of American power and consumerism. With the economic banking frauds of 2007 and 2008, the middle class way of life collapsed. Millions of homes went into foreclosure and millions of jobs were lost.
The crisis before us in 2012 is, at least in part, from the seeds of destructive leadership that practiced bad government as well as the long (100 year-1912/1913) cycles of banking corruption and short (1960 - 2001) social realignment of American culture. Always within the challenges arising from crisis or chaos is the prospect of opportunity. Such is the time and space we now call our present. This is a great opportunity for real leadership to step forward and move the American experience forward.
The beauty of America is that it is a nation and people that are always at a crossroads in our evolution. We are still just an experiment in the annals of history. The verdict is still out on how America will survive our future.
DEBATE AND DIALOGUE
All this to say, that the voice and strength of character that is Senator Rand Paul will be at the center of designing a new future for America. His latest product for his time spent in Washington is Fiscal Year Budget: A Platform to Revitalize America.
The simple truth is that he will not back down on his principles, nor will he be a part of the classic way of doing business in the Congress. Senator Paul is his own man.
Therefore, in the annals of history he becomes a force of spirit that will demand a thorough debate and dialogue during the next two election cycles (2012-2016).
Be we Democrat, Republican, Independent, Tea Party, Wall Street Occupier, the actions and words of Rand Paul will force the nation to look inward to the very soul of what we were, who we are and where we must travel to rebuild America.
This is a very painful process that we must undertake. In the looming dark days of 2006 and 2007, I wrote that we, as a people, must move out of the Age of Sheer Consumerism and into a new Age of Awareness. This meant that we had better take the time to honestly review how the budget for this country actually works.
To become aware is to look behind the screen of Oz and confront how the system is played by the power brokers. We must be honest with ourselves over how taxes are leveled and who benefits from them.
We no longer have the time to make mistakes in our leadership at the national or state levels. Millions of American lives now are at risk because of poor leadership in this 21st Century.
Senator Rand Paul’s attempt to draft a balance budget is not nice nor is it pretty. In many ways, I am shocked at its brutal handling of resources and long standing public policy commitments. However, I realize that much of what he is trying to say is a large dose of reality. We can no longer afford what we call government. On so many levels it is broken.
I hope that Senator Rand Paul’s “A Platform to Revitalize America” will reawaken the spirit of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his dream of an America that cares about all of its people and not just a few privileged people. Democrats must now become energized into a dialogue over our national path for rebuilding the American dream.
Senator Rand Paul has the ability to grow beyond his station in life. A passionate effective leader at the right time with the right message can become the moral high ground for merging all the harsh and overbearing voices of status quo into a new “Big Tent” of American politics.