Young people of differing backgrounds and ethnic origins attended his speech, which fired up the crowd with its promise to end massive surveillance, conduct a more pragmatic foreign policy, and reform policies that have a disproportionately negative impact on minorities.
Unlike current President Obama, who as candidate and former senator resorted to a more conciliatory rhetoric to appeal to a larger section of the public, Senator Paul actually has a record as a legislator that backs his promises.
During his time in the Senate, Obama abstained from voting on controversial legislation or bills that had strong bipartisan support — 130 times. Rand Paul, on the other hand, has chosen to sidestep on such issues only on 41 occasions.
However, in Brazil, the media see Paul as “ultra-conservative”.
According to Globo, the largest media network in the country, Paul will have an uphill battle to win over the votes of young people and women because of his association with the Tea Party movement. How can a presidential candidate be judged so shallowly?
Rand Paul: No Neocon
Just a little more research would have revealed that Paul is a serious contender, who appeals to broad demographics precisely because he distances himself from the GOP’s more conservative factions.
His concern for how the US criminal justice system unjustly punishes minorities, and the legal battles he’s fought to force the government to rethink its war on drugs, puts Paul squarely ahead on social issues relative to his Republican colleagues and many Democrats.
When it comes to abortion, Paul confirms that he’s pro-life — but he doesn’t think that a federal ban on abortion is the solution and is open to debate on the issue.
Young supporters in almost every state are celebrating his candidacy and collecting funds for Paul’s campaign during “Liberty Karaoke” sessions, he’s the only candidate so far to accept bitcoin donations. Minority groups listen when he talks about issues affecting them, and poor patients in Guatemala lined up to have themselves treated by Paul (alias “Dr. Pablo”), a qualified ophthalmologist.
This is evidently no run-of-the-mill GOP candidate, so why do the Brazilian media have such a hard time portraying Paul in a balanced manner? The answer is more simple than you think: in Brazil, as in many parts of Latin America, the debate surrounding left and right is still very basic.
But US politics is more complicated than that. Before candidates, politicians are first and foremost individuals, and many are true outsiders that don’t care much for party loyalty.
Unlike in Brazil, a candidate’s principles matter. Unfortunately for US citizens, a president’s beliefs as proclaimed during elections rarely end up making any difference in office.
Rand Paul, however, seems to want to break that trend.
Translated by Daniel Duarte. Edited by Laurie Blair.