For many, the word that comes to mind when they hear the name Rand Paul is likely “libertarian.” While he gladly embraces the label, Paul brands himself as more a pragmatist than purist, and he’s seeking a way to bring libertarians and social conservatives—long warring cousins on the right—together.
If successful, Paul’s effort could be the start of a fresh form of fusionism on the right that could be a significant asset if he seeks the White House in 2016.
Instead of adopting a hard line on issues like drug legalization and non-interventionism like his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the younger Paul speaks about these topics in a way he hopes will spark collaboration instead of squabbling. And it seems to be working.
Paul’s efforts were on display Wednesday night at a gala for the American Principles Project, a conservative group that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage and aims to promote religious liberty. The group’s board includes Maggie Gallagher, one of the foremost advocates against same-sex marriage and Robert P. George, the chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. APP is led by Francis P. Cannon, a conservative activist who authored a rebuttal report last year to calls within the Republican Party to de-emphasize social issues.
Speaking to a few hundred APP supporters at Washington, D.C.’s Mayflower hotel, Paul, knowing his audience, began by conceding that “libertarian,” is still “a bad word” to some. A few in the audience nodded.
“But libertarian, or liberty, doesn’t mean libertine,” Paul said. “To many of us, libertarian means freedom and liberty. But we also see freedom needs tradition.”
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