Yesterday on his MSNBC telecast, Ronan Farrow, like too many other seemingly naive members of his generation, confessed to being a fan of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in spite of the fact that Farrow, seconds earlier, aired a clip of the senator vocally endorsing the idea of "traditional marriage" and attributing the redefining of marriage as the leading cause of poverty in the U.S.
We'll circle back to the surge of fanboy admiration for the would-be Republican presidential frontrunner, but first some history.
The ascendancy of Rand Paul might be the one true barometer for the mainstreaming of the political fringes. If you recall, as I do, the previous two presidential elections, you might remember how Paul's father, former-Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), was widely considered to be the wacky wild-card candidate during the GOP primaries in 2008 and 2012. As the analogue to, say, Dennis Kucinich on the Democratic side, no one other than his legion of doomsday-bunker-squatting, money-bombing John Galt disciples seriously regarded Ron Paul as a serious candidate and therefore laughed his hopeless candidacy.
In just about every Republican debate, whenever Ron Paul was humored with a question or two and subsequently filled his time with fantastical libertarian tall-tales from aboard his huffing, puffing, whimsical steam-powered jalopy, the other candidates along with with most of the audience-members could barely contain their snickering and smirking.
But just two short years following the 2012 primaries, Rand Paul, who's generally the same political creature as his father is widely regarded as a serious contender for the GOP nomination. This is how deeply into the pits of screwball insanity the political discourse has descended. The Son of Weirdo Ron Paul is the real deal.
And it seems as if this surge of relevancy for Rand Paul in the presidential sphere is partly fueled by easily-deceived, privileged voters on the left who are climbing aboard an all new whimsical wheezy jalopy, evidently unaware that Rand Paul is an opportunist who's views are generally anathema to progressivism. Among those naive leftists are Ronan Farrow and Ralph Nader in spite of his horrendous views on an entire roster of critical issues, many of which are torn from his father's mystical playbook.
Simply because he occasionally tosses a few token scoops of chum to the left (then quickly backpedals), the left appears to be more than willing to ignore the following positions:
1) Rand Paul opposes gun control measures and voted with his party to filibuster the Manchin-Toomey amendment, which would've merely expended background checks to include internet sales and gun shows.
2) Rand Paul, like Ron Paul before him, has repeatedly objected to key provisions of the Civil Rights Act.
3) Rand Paul is opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Just because he's expressed an openness to a life-of-the-mother exception doesn't make him a hero.
4) Rand Paul, as mentioned earlier, believes that redefining traditional marriage is the leading cause of poverty, rather than a long list of other poverty-creating economic factors.
5) Rand Paul voted against the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
6) Rand Paul wants to cut the corporate tax rate in half and attacked Obama's "you didn't build that" quote, which was widely taken out of context.
7) Rand Paul is a fan of paleoconservative conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and has appeared on Jones' show numerous times. He's also endorsed his share of wild conspiracy theories.
8) Rand Paul proclaimed that the scientific consensus behind climate change isn't "conclusive."
9) Rand Paul has repeatedly voted to de-fund and repeal the Affordable Care Act, and would very likely do so as president. He's also spread "horror stories" about the law in Kentucky even though his state's exchange is one of the best in the nation.
10) Rand Paul famously filibustered the president's drone policies, but later suggested that the government could use a drone to gun down a criminal who just robbed a liquor store. He suggested we should use drones against the Taliban.
11) Rand Paul supports the partial privatization of Social Security and once called the program a "Ponzi scheme." He also referred to Medicare as "socialism."
12) Rand Paul supports the flat tax.
13) Rand Paul marketed in the widely debunked "Obamaphone" myth, stating: "For those who are struggling, we want you to have something infinitely more valuable than a free phone, we want you to have a job and a pathway to success."
14) Rand Paul supports Voter ID laws, saying there's "nothing wrong" with them.
15) Rand Paul, in addition to a series of racially-questionable associates, is a supporter of both states' rights and nullification, archaic tent-post beliefs held by neo-Confederates.
Should I go on?
Just because Rand Paul falls in line with Glenn Greenwald on NSA and one or two other far-left issues doesn't mean he's a golden-egg-laying transformational candidate who will bridge the left/right divide. He's more of a Trojan Horse than anything else and his ascendancy to the White House would be extraordinarily bad on numerous levels, the least of which happens to be the fact that he's an undisciplined political mess. On nearly every position, he often says one thing, then is forced to clarify. Those of you who "stand with Rand" on drones, see if you can ascertain where the hell he stands the issue from one quote to another. And this is one of his best-known positions.
Support from anyone outside of the usual Paulite subculture should be regarded as a shibboleth for the politically ignorant and unserious, especially on the left where there's a tendency to be smitten by wackos who trip and fall onto buzzwords like "drones" or "Snowden." Liberal overlap is completely incidental and cosmetic. Where liberal opposition to drones is a feature of anti-war pacifism, and liberal opposition to NSA surveillance is a feature of civil libertarianism, Rand Paul's opposition to these policies grows directly from an anti-government, nullification, states' rights posture. And left is clearly being suckered into supporting it.