The Kentucky Case Study

Cross-posted at CorieWhalen.com

The Republican primary for the race that will replace retiring Senator Jim Bunning is heating up in a major way. The tension between the moderate, if not liberal GOP Establishment and Outside-The-Beltway conservatives is on full display. This is an internal fight familiar to those of us who feel we have a stake in the fate of the GOP – and it’s a battle that’s been brewing intensely since George W. Bush and the Republican Congress under his leadership governed like intellectually dishonest, somewhat muted versions of the Democrats they claimed to oppose. Ever since the GOP was relegated to super-minority status in the 2008 elections, the epic battle for the intellectual heart of the Republican Party has been playing out in an intense manner – through everything from the the grassroots Tea Party movement to the polite but pointedly political battle between Senators like the conservative Jim DeMint and Establishment lackey Mitch McConnell; two men who have come to play a major role recently in this particular race.

Long before official candidacies were declared, I’ve had my eye on the Kentucky Senate race. This is largely because I’m a big fan of Rand Paul, and knew he was considering a run. I had the pleasure of meeting him on multiple occasions in 2007, and Rand was even kind enough to come to Boston to be the keynote speaker for an event I was the principal host of at Faneuil Hall. I’ve always thought that he had the talent, principles and political savvy to take the liberty movement mainstream. Turns out I was right.

Anyone who has been following the Kentucky Senate race has likely taken note of how unconventional the politics of this particular Republican primary have been. It’s no surprise, really. It’s not everyday that the Establishment is challenged by a strong, principled, liberty-minded conservative like Rand Paul; which is what makes this race a case study for those of us interested in the battle for the GOP’s heart. As we’ve seen via endorsements of Rand’s liberal opponent, former Democrat Trey Grayson, the Old Guard of the GOP is threatened; in a big way. Why else would they get involved in a primary race in Kentucky?

Take a look at some of the big boys who have endorsed Trey Grayson:

Rudy Giuliani

Dick Cheney

Rick Santorum

… And last but not least in a surprising move yesterday, Mitch McConnell.

McConnell is absolutely correct. These are critical times. But the issue really isn’t Obama’s spending and how that threatens to destroy more jobs. That matters very little if Big Government Republicans like McConnell continue to be the only alternate choice offered to conservatives on election day. Folks on the right fully expect Democrats to keep acting like Democrats. What we don’t expect, however, is for our leaders in the Republican Party to spend like Democrats when they’re in the majority, and to roll over and let the Democrats ram their agendas through when they’re in the minority. Mitch McConnell has been the poster boy for both grievances. Grievances, might I add, that were a factor in the onset of the Tea Party movement – which largely rejects the notion that all Republicans are created equal. They aren’t – and mainstream conservatives (Sean Hannity be damned) are finally starting to comprehend that important truth.

The best news regarding this race, which I view as a response to McConnell’s official backing of Grayson, is Senator Jim DeMint’s recent endorsement of Rand Paul. Just hours ago, DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund  officially endorsed him – a move I’ve been praying for, but didn’t think would happen given the fact that at this point, the primary is a mere week and a half away. This will be a huge boost for Rand both financially and politically. I couldn’t be more thrilled – and for the first time ever, feel compelled to thank Mitch McConnell for something.

All of this is why Rand Paul – and candidates like him, are so excruciatingly important. Conservatives are being offered an alternative to an Establishment that has let us down – and it’s not everyday that we’re presented with such a choice. When we are, however, it’s important to take a stand; to fight, as I said before, for the very soul of the Republican Party. Jim Bunning, Jim DeMint, Erick Erickson, Sarah Palin and Jim Dobson are engaged in the fight- and while I don’t particularly care for the latter two, I know that their endorsements mean a great deal to many conservatives – and I think it’s great that for their own reasons, they like Rand. As I said, he’s the kind of candidate with incredible crossover appeal. Libertarian leaning conservatives such as myself, all the way to the Focus on the Family social conservatives see Rand as a great choice. Frankly, I think we’ve got amazing coalition on our hands; one that will propel Rand into the Senate – and if my wish were to come true – yes; President. (Premature, I know, I know – but a girl can dream).

The May 18th Kentucky primary is going to be huge. A Paul win would be fantastic for the Commonwealth, as it would benefit Kentucky immensely to replace the anti-establishment independent minded Senator Bunning with an equally principled leader like Paul. More than that, even, the nation would do well to have a man like Rand in the Senate to join the likes of DeMint (I’m salivating over the filibuster prospects). Most importantly in my mind, however, will be the aggregate affect on the Republican Party; and in turn, the country overall. If the Republican Party once again stands for liberty, limited government and the Constitution, imagine the kind of good that would bring about. A transparent Federal Reserve, a Congress that doesn’t abdicate its duties and controls spending, not to mention the return of an American ethic of freedom; one that has been under attack by the political class in both major parties for far too long now.  

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