By Robert Capehert
A few takes-aways might suffice regarding CPAC.
Sen. Rand Paul’s fusion of libertarianism and paleo-conservatism, hinting of past ideological marriages between folks like Frank Meyer and William F Buckley, Jr.—has now been successfully rekindled through Sen. Paul’s efforts. Circumstances beget ideological cohesion. The past failures of “big government conservatism”helped amplify a truer, sharper, conservative edge.
And so, it seems Sen. Paul’s tack is now, thankfully, mainstreamed.
Sen. Paul’s father, Ron Paul, had what one might call prototype shortfalls. Meaning, there were some great classical liberal positions Paul senior expressed; the innovation was impressive. And Paul the senior evinced an impressive ability to kindle interest among younger generations of the importance of American conservation of free minds and markets.
Still, there were large problems with Ron Paul’s ideological cohesion. Most of that bewilderment related to typical absurdity in any fringe movement. It would appear, Rand Paul the son is ready for Broadway, whereas Ron Paul was confined to suburban theatre. Often a quality endeavor, sure, but not ready for primetime under the lights.
Sen. Rand Paul has taken the best arguments by libertarians and paleo-conservatives, launching a new (and attractive) vision for the Republican Party. One hopes it leads to a lighter, quicker-footed political party, able to meet and animate itself where diverse peoples needed to win national elections reside. And is likewise, more passionate about government sticking to its business then scoring culture-warrior points.
It will require someone with Rand Paul’s gifts to codify and rebuild Republican Party ideas about foreign policy—hopefully learning from the quixotic failings of neo-conservatism, but avoiding the lack of submission-to-reality that pervades radical isolationism.
William F Buckley, Jr. was famous for saying—I’m paraphrasing here—all good conservatism is first based upon a submission to reality. One of the troubling aspects of progressive politics in our time has been its ability to convince majorities of the national electorate that a submission-to-reality is the one characteristic American “conservatism” lacks.
Too much of American conservatism over the past 20 years has lacked such ontological [the nature of things] heft, but that is not because it is “too conservative”—but the reverse: it has not been deeply conservative enough.
What appears nice about Sen. Paul is, he seems to be a candidate able to reform such notions. Whether Sen. Paul can be the communicative juggernaut Ronald Reagan was, remains to be seen. But his marathon filibuster, his speech to the CSPAC faithful, beholds good, classical liberal ascendancy.