la-na-rand-paul-berkeley-20140320I had the opportunity to see Rand Paul give a presentation and interview on campus at the University of California at Berkeley on March 19, 2014.  I was curious to see him for a variety of reasons. As a product of the liberal/progressive indoctrination of the University of California, I was curious to see how the spawn of the father of the Libertarian movement would be received.  As a supporter and fan of his father Ron Paul, I was curious to see how he compared.  As a former Republican, I was curious about his relationship to the much maligned party.  As a libertarian, I was curious about how real is his message of liberty and a return to the constitution.  As an American citizen, overwhelmed by government abuses (i.e. NSA spying, Obamacare, drone wars, executive orders) I was curious to find out what is his plan to end them.

I must say that prior to this event, I was underwhelmed with what I had read and seen of Rand Paul.  I did admire his filibuster in opposition to the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA. I admired his lawsuit filed against the NSA and President Obama over the unwarranted surveillance of American citizens.  I was not impressed with his belief that Edward Snowden should not be pardoned for leaking information about the NSA.  I was not impressed with his endorsement of Mitch Mc Connell whose record, it would be safe to say, is not liberty oriented.  But I digress….

The UC grad in me was shocked when as his name was announced, the 800 plus crowd of mostly college students stood to their feet and gave Senator Rand Paul a standing ovation.  There were no protest signs outside the venue and no boos of dissent in the auditorium as he made his way to the stage from the back of the hall.  I was on the aisle where he passed and snapped a picture before putting my hand out to receive a handshake from the man. He gave me a friendly smile. He managed to receive two more standing ovations before the event was over.  This in itself gave me pause, that there is a new America, and perhaps, it is in the hopeful hearts of these young adults.  Change is a comin’ and none too soon.

Senator Paul’s speech focused on his outrage over the abuses of the NSA in obtaining the private information of millions of Americans through the surveillance of their phones.  The crowd cheered and clapped as he railed against a government run amok.  The angry American citizen in me resonated with his talk of reform and retribution needed for these offenses.

The next phase of the event was an interview led by a young Cal (correct local vernacular for UC Berkeley) student.  This is where it got interesting.  Although Senator Paul has been accused of “borrowing material” for his speeches, I knew he has a good orator.  What would he be like unscripted, and how would that be received?

The disillusioned Republican in me was vindicated when he compared the Republican Party to Dominoes when they admitted that they had bad crust, in that it is time for a reformed Republican Party or( maybe and abdication to the Libertarian Party?)  As he discussed a run for president he called himself a libertarian or liberty minded Republican.  The Libertarian in me likes this!

I must admit his flat tax platform was not something that impressed me, but his call for a reduction in everyone’s taxes sounded promising. It seemed in every question rather than focusing on the bi-partisan dynamic he focused on common ground issues.  He talked about working with his opponents on the two or three issues they do agree on rather that squabbling over what they don’t agree on.

My perception of him was as more of a moderate than a dogmatic like his father.  He may share the same principles but he communicates them differently.  He communicates them in a way that could move those from the left and the right to a more libertarian mindset that could embrace a freer America for all.

They say actions speak louder than words. The action that did warm me a little  more in his favor was when his car rolled passed  me and I saw that his window was down-I asked him if I could give him an article.  He said “Yeah I’ll look at it” and made the driver stop the car so that I could hand him an article by my friend Robin Koerner of the Blue Republican  I gave him my card too with my blogsite on it so just maybe he will read this too!

I don’t have an answer to the question in my title, but I have a few more years to decide. I do have a better view of Senator Rand Paul than before his visit.  Maybe- just maybe, he is the man.