By Noah Rothman
Much will be written about Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) filibuster. It may be viewed through the prism of history as a turning point. It may be quickly forgotten as subsequent events diminish its relevance. Before Wednesday, however, Paul spoke for a narrow slice of the Republican Party’s coalition. Today, he speaks for a reinvigorated GOP base. But as the hours wore on, another phenomenon began to take shape – Paul’s ultimately unsuccessful efforts to rein in the president spoke directly to the forgotten millions of Americans wary of the ever-expanding scope of the unconstrained global war on terror. Paul offered himself up as something of a martyr. His voice, once lonely, grew in stature as his Republican colleagues – one after the next – shared his demand for redress from the White House, though all knew that would not be forthcoming. It was poetic. It was romantic. What may be most important, it re framed Congressional Republicans. All of the sudden, they were fighting for a cause with self-evident nobility that requires no public education campaign: life, liberty, and due process. In filibustering, Paul chipped away at the monopoly on romance that the left has enjoyed for more than a century.
The Republican Party’s consulting class has been beating their heads against the wall since well before the November election as they determine the best way to reach out to and convince young voters to consider the GOP’s programs. They are frustrated that their message of economic liberty, a check on the government’s power to confiscate wealth, and the preservation of America’s role as the guarantor of global security do not seem to resonate with the youth.
Too often, Republican officeholders and commentators give in to despair in the face of what at times appears to be an intractable problem. The least sanguine of them see the GOP’s inability to appeal to the youth vote as a terminal condition.
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