No one was surprised by Mitt Romney’s unending position changes during the 2012 presidential campaign. He was, after all, drifting from the fervently conservative primary crowds toward moderate general election voters. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), on the other hand, can’t seem to wait for his 2016 candidacy, and has gotten an early start on his political fluctuations.
In a recent interview with Breitbart News, Paul offered a surprising viewpoint regarding Israel, saying, “We should announce to the world … that any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States.”
This is a stark turn from the libertarian platform that helped him rise in the Tea Party ranks. Paul has frequently decried U.S. foreign aid programs, and stipulated that we should not engage in military conflicts unless the United States is directly threatened. So what’s motivating this change?
Israel’s recent elections certainly surprised many pundits, with a strong moderate and liberal showing, but that’s unlikely to be the reason for Paul’s turnaround. His early career flourished under the guidance of his father, Ron Paul, and they both capitalized on their libertarian popularity. Some spoke of a new father-son dynasty, akin to the Bushes, but those hopes were dashed when Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign fizzled out. Like any calculating politician, Rand was quick to distance himself from his father, and began concentrating on his own image.
In that vain, Rand has shown interesting contradictions in his policy positions. He is against abortion, even in instances of rape, but supports the morning-after pill. He refuses to support campaign finance reform, but stipulates that congressional contracts should be limited. He wants to eliminate the Department of Education, but keep student loans and allow other government agencies to manage them.
So what are we to take away from this recent flip-flop? Perhaps he’s informing himself of various positions in order to better assess what policies are in America’s best interest. The more likely scenario, is that he is dipping his toes in populist positions to test the waters for 2016. If the Benghazi hearings are any indication, it’s clear we can expect a lot of spotlight seeking by Rand Paul in the coming years, and a drop in consistency.