By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
I had the privilege of interviewing Sen. Rand Paul on my Focal Point program on Wednesday, January 30 (which you can see and hear here.)
My takeaway from my conversation with the junior senator from Kentucky is that he ought to be on the shortlist for 2016 but not at the top.
Now there is no question he’s running for the presidency. The staff member with whom I corresponded in preparation for the interview had an email address @randpaul2016.com. So he’s in. The question for conservatives is simple: is he the guy?
When Sen. Paul talks about a “libertarian-conservative” blend, and talks about the need for the GOP to “evolve” and “adapt” that understandably sends shivers down the spine of true conservatives who see conservatives principles as timeless, principles which do not stand in need of evolution or adaptation. They are fine just as they are, and need only to be articulated and implemented.
Going into the interview, I had five questions in my mind with regard to Sen. Paul and 2016. Three of my questions were answered to my satisfaction and two were not.
First, there is no question that his bonafides with regard to the sanctity of human life are solid. He spoke at the March for Life this year, and would have last year had he not gotten tangled up with the chuckleheads at the TSA.
Second, he is an unapologetic fiscal conservative. He will not vote for an increase in the debt ceiling without a balanced budget amendment attached. And he agreed with me that all we need to do to balance the budget is simply refuse to raise the debt ceiling. If Congress doesn’t do that, we’ll have a balanced budget by the end of that day.
Third, he is a true friend of Israel. His trip to Israel solidified his position with regard to Israel’s security, and he famously said on his return that “an attack on Israel is an attack on the United States.” And he proposed withholding our F-16s from the Islamist government of Egypt in part because of the threat that represents to Israel’s security. So no worries there.
But I’ve got problems with him on marriage and immigration. With regard to marriage, he’s solid on protecting the right of states to deal with this issue without federal interference, and supports Kentucky’s marriage amendment. But he was quite elusive and even evasive on support for the provision in DOMA that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for federal purposes.
Conservatives are going to need to press him hard on this issue between now and the official start of the campaign. If the federal government is going to pay people, and provide benefits to their spouses, then it must have a definition of marriage to identify those who are eligible for those benefits. This is quickly becoming an issue with regard to benefits in the military, and has implications for many other issues such as the performing of same-sex wedding ceremonies on military facilities.
We, in fact, are ultimately in need of a federal marriage amendment to establish uniform policy for the United States. Inter-state divorce and custody issues are becoming thorny and complicated with the patchwork of state policies that are currently in place.
A constitutional amendment is, of course, the ultimate expression of state sovereignty, since the Constitution cannot be amended unless at least 37 states agree. But Sen. Paul apparently wants to keep the federal government out of the marriage debate altogether. This is a recipe for chaos and confusion and the further crumbling of the institution of the family in America.
Last, Sen. Paul believes in amnesty. To be sure, he believes in amnesty only after Congress has voted for up to five consecutive years that the border is secure, based on reports from an independent inspector general, not administration lackeys. This makes his position far less objectionable than the one Sen. Rubio and the Amnesty Eight are flacking for.
But once Sen. Paul’s threshold has been reached, he is apparently prepared to grant instant legalization to every illegal alien in the land.
This is a serious departure from the standard conservative principle of respect for and adherence to the rule of law. No responsible conservative immigration policy can grant such a massive waiver on such a fundamental principle. His view on this is libertarian, not conservative.
(As an aside, we can reform immigration immediately by requiring E-Verify for every job and every welfare benefit. If illegals can’t get work and can’t get taxpayer-funded benefits, they will self-repatriate. From their homeland, they can start the same process that every one of our one million annual legal immigrants must follow.)
I personally will be unable to support Sen. Paul’s presidential ambitions until he supports the man-woman definition of marriage for federal purposes, and until he changes his position on amnesty for illegal aliens.
Thus Sen. Paul grades out at three stars out of five, maybe three and a half if you give him points for believing in state sovereignty on marriage. It’s not enough to boost him to the top of the list, but it’s enough to put him in the top tier.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)