In Pursuit of Disruptive Politics: Rand Paul at Berkeley — Jon Gabriel

 

Most Republican senators choose to speak at a post office opening, a county GOP fish fry, or the local Rotary club pancake breakfast. Meanwhile, the junior senator from Kentucky is hanging out at Howard University, Detroit and now the University of California at Berkeley.

Delivering a rare speech for a Republican at this bastion of liberalism, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday was given multiple standing ovations by the left-wing audience after railing against government surveillance and warning the students: “Your right to privacy is under assault.”

“I am here to tell you that if you own a cell phone, you’re under surveillance,” he told the crowd.

Paul’s address at the Berkeley Forum on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley focused on the National Security Agency’s collection of telephone metadata and the debate over privacy.

Tech titans seek to invent disruptive technologies: revolutionary new products that displace established products and create a completely new paradigm. In this post-Snowden era, Paul’s warnings on government snooping are finding a receptive audience across the right, the middle, and the left. He rightly sees privacy as a disruptive politics that can shake up long-stagnant political alliances:

Paul noted that he was taking his campaign to places that don’t traditionally vote Republican. “Like Berkeley,” he said to cheers.
“Part of it might be the Republican Party (must) … evolve, adapt or die,” he said.

“Remember when Domino’s finally admitted they had bad crust?” he said to laughs. “We need a different type of party.”

…Paul’s Berkeley appearance dramatized his ability to fire up under-30 voters, the same group that helped put Barack Obama in the White House. Paul, however, delivers a far different libertarian message that government – particularly the agencies that scoop up millions of Americans’ phone-call and e-mail metadata – needs to be restrained.

“He’s helping to subvert what people think of when they think of Republicans,” said John Dennis, who is mounting a GOP challenge to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in her San Francisco district. “He’s challenging the administration on the NSA more than anyone else. And his filibuster was so successful, the people on the left were cheering him on.”

For years, many conservatives have pleaded with Republicans to go into hotbeds of liberalism, a la Jack Kemp. As an old “bleeding-heart conservative” myself, I’m thankful for Sen. Paul’s bold, possibly game-changing outreach.What do you think, Ricochetti? Was Paul’s visit worthwhile or a waste of time?

There are 28 comments.

  1. Kofola Inactive

    If he can somehow convince them that other parts of the government as just as bad, then I’ll call this outreach a success. I’m skeptical, but time may tell, I guess.

    • #1
    • March 20, 2014, at 12:37 PM PDT
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  2. Profile Photo Member

    Libertarian ideas have the ability to transcend traditional left-right politics and find support from all sorts. Paul has the “cool” factor, which is something we have lacked in the Republican Party for many years. This kind of outreach is what we need. I’m all for it.

    • #2
    • March 20, 2014, at 12:52 PM PDT
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  3. David Clark Inactive

    Hurrah! Fighting instead of hiding, what a novel strategy.

    • #3
    • March 20, 2014, at 1:03 PM PDT
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  4. Profile Photo Member

    I’m glad someone is at least trying. I don’t expect overnight dividends. I have not heard his Berkeley speech, but I heard Senator Paul’s Howard University speech. I think he tried to show some common ground there, but mostly in areas where he contrasted himself with more traditional conservative positions. I would like to see him argue the value of at least one or two right-of-center positions in a way that might appeal to liberal audiences to get the camel’s nose into the tent.

    • #4
    • March 20, 2014, at 1:51 PM PDT
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  5. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    Quinn, I also have not yet listened to this Berkeley speech, but in the Howard speech, he began with a killer history lesson, in which he explained to the audience that the Republican party was begun as the party of equality and reminded them of the history of the Democrats with regard to Jim Crow. 

    I also love that Rand Paul is willing to talk to anyone about anything. He took questions at Howard, and I think earned some respect.

    Of course, his economic freedom zones got almost no media play and will go nowhere in Harry Reid’s Senate, but he does make the case for the Constitution and individual liberty wherever he goes.

    • #5
    • March 20, 2014, at 2:05 PM PDT
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  6. Z in MT Inactive

    David Clark:
    Hurrah! Fighting instead of hiding, what a novel strategy.

     The so-called “establishment” Republicans seem to think that Republicans can win by pretending that they are not conservative. While Rand is mostly libertarian, I think that even conservative Republicans can make headway with middle of the road voters if the candidate tries to engage them intelligently.

    • #6
    • March 20, 2014, at 2:16 PM PDT
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  7. Franco Member

    Yeah baby!

    • #7
    • March 20, 2014, at 2:43 PM PDT
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  8. Umbra Fractus Inactive

    Kofola is right. It’s easy to get people excited about restraining the government when they’re the ones being leaned on. It’s getting them to accept that other people, businessmen, sexually conservative Christians, etc. also deserve to be left alone that’s the problem.

    • #8
    • March 20, 2014, at 2:59 PM PDT
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  9. George Savage Contributor

    I am a fan. The Republican brand is broken in both directions: On the right, we rail against big-spending, crony capitalist, go-along-to-get-along establishment RINOs, while on the left the regnant stereotype is of war-mongering, morally obtuse penny-pinchers policing the borders, bedrooms, and wombs of the electorate.

    Rand does not fit either stereotype. He therefore has a shot at convincing voters to take a fresh look.

    • #9
    • March 20, 2014, at 3:07 PM PDT
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  10. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author
    By speaking to traditionally Democrat constituencies, Republican candidates achieve several electoral goals:
    • It could peel off a tiny percentage of audience members to vote Republican.
    • It can make a small percentage of the audience less overtly hostile to Republicans, which reduces the voter intensity on that side.
    • It does make a larger number of suburban voters feel better about voting for Republicans. In good conscience, they can vote GOP if they believe the candidate isn’t one of “those” Republicans.
    • #10
    • March 20, 2014, at 3:31 PM PDT
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  11. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    On the member feed, Pete EE posted a conversation in which he included a link to a Maclean’s story about a Canadian politician, Jason Kenney, who is the immigration minister and is constantly making his face and presence known in immigrant communities. At one point a young woman in a heavily Asian neighborhood says that Kenney is like Justin Bieber in her neighborhood, he is so well known. People of different backgrounds trust him and feel comfortable with him, but he is not a patsy or an apologist for what he belives. He is an advocate. To quote from the Maclean’s piece, “human contact, proximity, and the fight for values undertaken by the Conservative Party have gradually won over a large number of new Canadians.”

    The more politicians like Rand Paul (not that there are many politicians like him at all) can get out and speak to people directly without the distortion of the media, can convince people that he speaks their language, can get multiple standing ovations at Berkeley !! of all places, the more normal and acceptable and attractive the message of personal liberty, restrained government, and vigilance regarding the Constitution.

    • #11
    • March 20, 2014, at 3:44 PM PDT
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  12. flownover Inactive

    I read this and wondered what I would say to an audience of African Americans about how I perceived the truth to be. The facts seemed to speak for the purpose: abortion targeting their children at a much higher rate, welfare gutting the community of it’s will to work and form families , and education failing their children in order to protect teacher unions . It looks easy , but there are obstacles . A student audience is always easier, but they are students. How do we reach out to mature voters who have been marching in lockstep to the desire of the left and the democrats ?

    • #12
    • March 20, 2014, at 4:03 PM PDT
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  13. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    I honestly think that politicians would do better to listen rather than talk. A Republican candidate should volunteer at, say, a Spanish-speaking community event in an off-year. Instead of talking at an audience for 30 minutes, talk for 5 and takes 25 minutes of questions. Even if there are catcalls, just stay there, listen and honestly respond. Even if you don’t change the crowd’s mind, you’ll gain some respect.

    • #13
    • March 20, 2014, at 4:39 PM PDT
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  14. David Berens Inactive

    I would be appalled if I was an American. A President Paul would leave America vulnerable to its enemies. What ever happened to national security the first duty of any Government.

    I prefer this view from Richard Epstein which is more consistent with protecting limited government.

    http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/149766

    • #14
    • March 20, 2014, at 6:38 PM PDT
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  15. Profile Photo Member

    Rand is calm and cool. His language is understandable -Domino’s Pizza. Spoke about race and crime really well. Very good.

    • #15
    • March 20, 2014, at 6:48 PM PDT
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  16. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    David Berens:
    I would be appalled if I was an American. A President Paul would leave America vulnerable to its enemies. What ever happened to national security the first duty of any Government.
    I prefer this view from Richard Epstein which is more consistent with protecting limited government.
    http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/149766

     Why don’t you read what Senator Paul has to say about foreign policy? Or have you already decided he is an isolationist nutcase?

    • #16
    • March 20, 2014, at 7:13 PM PDT
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  17. James Gawron Thatcher

    Jon,

    The speech is exciting because of one phrase “unalienable right”. The American Constitution is based on two principles, Limited Government and Unalienable Right. Both ideas are focused on the same end, that the power of government must be moderated by reason and morality. The left has trouble with limited government cold turkey. They can grasp the unalienable right argument much more easily. As Paul speaks to this they begin to see that the rest of his mind set is worth considering too.

    Senator Paul is correct that there is an Unalienable Right to Privacy. When Snowden happened I described the Right to Privacy by the phrase “a reasonable expectation of privacy”. Obviously, “a reasonable expectation of privacy” requires a Supreme Court to make judgments and settle specific cases to precisely define this in practice. Especially in practice for our ever more sophisticated information age.

    This whole constitutional process requires respect for American Exceptionalism. This in itself is a defeat for Obama Age Multi-Culturalism. Paul shows great political instincts by this kind of speech. We take back the high ground. If we believe in American constitutional values, then we will handle Security too.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #17
    • March 20, 2014, at 9:06 PM PDT
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  18. Profile Photo Member

    Send that man on a speaking tour of every major college in this country.

    • #18
    • March 20, 2014, at 10:29 PM PDT
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  19. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    Change doesn’t happen by doing the same things over and over again. We have to have these conversations with the people who disagree with us, or nothing will change. Paul seems to understand that part of it, and the more he does this, the less he can be marginalized by the institutional Right that seems quite happy with the status quo.

    • #19
    • March 21, 2014, at 3:52 AM PDT
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  20. Iceman25 Inactive

    I think it is a great thing. Whether the Berkley students disagree with him is irrelevant. At least they get to see and hear Sen. Paul in person and realize he is not a forked tongue demon. 
    The GOP needs to get away from their safe havens and engage young college aged voters all over the country. 

    • #20
    • March 21, 2014, at 7:06 AM PDT
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  21. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Wow, that was a solid speech. I hope this blew some kids’ minds who were expecting something wildly different.

    David Berens:
    I would be appalled if I was an American. A President Paul would leave America vulnerable to its enemies. What ever happened to national security the first duty of any Government.

    The particular methods the NSA has been using are not synonymous with national security, any more than beating confessions out of murderers is synonymous with justice.

    Moreoever, Paul said repeatedly that he’s not against the existence of the NSA or against surveillance in general. He is against the government issuing general warrant, which is exactly what the NSA is doing.

    If the government has reason to suspect someone of terrorism, file a warrant and tap their phones. Leave the rest of us out of it.

    • #21
    • March 21, 2014, at 8:25 AM PDT
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  22. swatter Inactive

    Actually, Jon, it makes them respect you more and make them realize they have to bring their A-game when debating. It makes them less rabid during elections when they know the opponent has good arguments.

    I doubt you do any convincing.

    • #22
    • March 21, 2014, at 10:14 AM PDT
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  23. mikesixes Inactive

    It is frequently and correctly pointed out that lefties don’t understand how righties think. The lefty establishment would like to keep it that way, because if the choir to whom they preach doesn’t know how we think, the establishment can simply attribute all disagreements to racism or greed or hate. I doubt if Mr. Paul will actually convert many of these people to the GOP, but he at least lets them see that we are people who have principled and rational reasons for the positions we hold. That’s got to be a good thing.

    • #23
    • March 21, 2014, at 11:05 AM PDT
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  24. Hartmann von Aue Member

    Yes, more like this please. Especially more Republicans going to Historically Black Colleges and minority student groups. And challenge the left’s premises on every point.

    • #24
    • March 21, 2014, at 11:32 AM PDT
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  25. David Berens Inactive

    In reply to Tom Meyer

    Please read Richard Epstein’s article “Finally, the NSA surveillance program signals a strong categorical shift in the balance to the government side. In these cases, the government has collected information that might be useful in tracking down future terrorists. So far, critics of the program have been far too glib, as in Jim Harper’s recent post on [email protected] Harper suggests that the very act of data collection brings back the sordid British practice of issuing a “general warrant,” which is the very abuse that the Fourth Amendment was intended to curb. But such a statement is simply not accurate: What sparked the Fourth Amendment was the 1765 case of Entick v. Carrington, in which Lord Halifax, a Secretary of State, ordered his agents, one of whom was Carrington, to ransack John Entick’s premises, which they did for four hours collecting charts and pamphlets, and causing damage of some £2,000, which Entick was eventually allowed to collect. All the evidence suggests that nothing remotely like this outrage has taken place. In the NSA case, the key point is that it takes a search warrant to examine the contents of the phone calls collected. Yet, there is no evidence of any breach of the line between collection and use.”

    • #25
    • March 21, 2014, at 6:11 PM PDT
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  26. David Berens Inactive

    Mama Toad:

    David Berens: I would be appalled if I was an American. A President Paul would leave America vulnerable to its enemies. What ever happened to national security the first duty of any Government. I prefer this view from Richard Epstein which is more consistent with protecting limited government. http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/149766

    Why don’t you read what Senator Paul has to say about foreign policy? Or have you already decided he is an isolationist nutcase?

    Rand Paul is very much his fathers son, he just speaks with a silver tongue. Snowden is a traitor who has done enormous damage to America’s national security … I view what is happening to the American conservative movement with dismay. A Rand Paul nomination would enable Hilary to run as the national security candidate and hand the keys to the White House to her. 

    • #26
    • March 21, 2014, at 6:21 PM PDT
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  27. George Savage Contributor

    David Berens:

     In the NSA case, the key point is that it takes a search warrant to examine the contents of the phone calls collected. Yet, there is no evidence of any breach of the line between collection and use.”

    I cannot help but wonder if the NSA’s massive data collection apparatus isn’t the end result of political correctness run amok. The logic runs as follows: We can’t target data acquisition based on a suspicious background, like muslim immigrants from Chechnya with radical ties and a specific warning from Russian intelligence. Smacks of racism. Why don’t we acquire data on absolutely everyone? That way it’s fair. We have the budget and it would be an awesome project.

    Sure, and it would also consume massive amounts of time, attention and resource to no good purpose except to crowd out real intelligence work. After the fact, I wager the NSA managed to reconstruct the Tsarnaev brothers’ relevant communications. Small comfort for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

    It is not a proper function of the federal government to amass information on the citizenry generally. The fact that the NSA data trove is not being misused today does not mean that it will never be misused. Remember when the EPA was focused on reducing pollution, not warring against coal-fired power plants and development generally? Remember when presidents–even those with a pen and a phone–respected the Constitution and enforced statutes as passed by Congress?

    We never have to worry about waking up in a police state if we ensure that we never build the internal security apparatus needed to create and sustain such a dystopia. I’d rather not rely solely on the good and moral behavior of our public officials.

    • #27
    • March 21, 2014, at 9:46 PM PDT
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  28. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    David Berens:

    Mama Toad:

    David Berens: …

    Rand Paul is very much his fathers son, he just speaks with a silver tongue. Snowden is a traitor who has done enormous damage to America’s national security … I view what is happening to the American conservative movement with dismay. A Rand Paul nomination would enable Hilary to run as the national security candidate and hand the keys to the White House to her.

     Did you even listen to what Senator Paul had to say on Snowden? “….I’m very upset about what our intelligence community is doing, we might not have ever known about it, had Snowden not leaked it. Some say Snowden should have tried to become whistleblower. I don’t know if he did try, or what the process is, but I think on the one hand you have chaos, you know, Bradley Manning released 24,000,000 pages. There’s a chance that people could die from that, intelligence could get out that could endanger our agents — and I’m not against spying, I mean we will have people gathering intelligence around the world, and I don’t think we can allow willynilly indiscriminate release of documents. But at the same time, I’m sympathetic to what was released, because I think it’s a real problem, so I have mixed feelings.”

    He also thinks Snowden being in Russia is not a good sign, and he also thinks that James Clapper should face charges for directly lying about spying in testimony in Congress.

    I think your analysis of a Rand Paul-Hillary Clinton matchup bears little resemblance to reality. 

    But please, don’t allow what the Senator has actually said and done to color your preconceived notions of him.

    • #28
    • March 22, 2014, at 6:31 AM PDT
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