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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Rand Paul and the GOP Establishment

The political right has suffered from a romance deficit with the left for generations. The struggle against entrenched interests and insurmountable establishments has been the exclusive province of the left for as long as there has been an organized left. The young conservative, instinctively attracted to the struggle against perceived injustice, must always wrestle with and overcome their heart first in order to join the conservative movement. This is a fundamental impediment to the right’s ability to speak to the young voter.
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Paul chipped away at the Democratic Party’s monopoly on romance yesterday. His actions broke through traditional firewalls that keep politics out of the homes of the nation’s marginally interested voters. He showed that the struggle for personal freedom is an idealistic pursuit. For a moment, the pervasive cynicism that has hardened voting patterns over the last two decades melted away. The political class will miss it, but the apolitical citizenry who could care less for what a consultant or a pundit says or thinks will not. The shift that Paul’s actions have ushered in will not remain imperceptible for long.
Rand Paul astutely lined up establishment support for his filibuster against John Brennan's nomination to head the CIA.  Shane Goldmacher and Beth Reinhard write at National Journal:
Paul, often accused of being a lone wolf on Capitol Hill, had laid some of the groundwork to win over the GOP establishment. McConnell and Co. knew the filibuster was coming, even if they did not know when precisely or what exactly it would look like.

Paul had personally informed some Republican senators that he planned to mount the talking filibuster the day before over lunch, said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., a member of the GOP leadership. “The day before, he said that he was going to start talking until he couldn’t talk anymore,” Barrasso said. McConnell, meanwhile, put out the word to the conference that he was supportive of Paul’s efforts.

Still, Paul spoke solo on the Senate floor for more than three hours Wednesday before any of his colleagues joined in support. The first was Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, another tea-party darling from the class of 2010. The National Republican Senatorial Committee soon showed camaraderie by posting supportive messages on Twitter and an e-mail pitch urging donors to “#StandwithRand.” Chairman Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, also went down to the floor.

As afternoon turned to evening, a group of GOP senators crossed town for dinner with President Obama at the Jefferson Hotel. Paul stuck to the floor, demanding answers to the legal limits of America’s domestic drone program.

Momentum built on Twitter and in the conservative grassroots. His speechifying was labeled a “filiblizzard” on C-SPAN, after the snowstorm that had threatened the Capitol all day but never materialized. By late Wednesday, the #StandwithRand hashtag was trending across the globe on Twitter.

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The outpouring of support climaxed at 11:43 p.m., minutes short of the filibuster’s 12-hour mark. That is when Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, typed out on Twitter: “Attention all Republican US Senators -->Please go to the floor and help out @SenRandPaul #StandwithRand.”