As our unhealthy fixation on Rand Paul continues to grow, we at Combat! blog are impelled to consider the other prong of his narrative prod: authenticity. Paul and his ilk are, by their own avowal and by media announcement, outsiders—folks who feel the same way you do about the shysters in Washington because, like you, they watch ’em from afar. It’s a reform year. Two big stories dominate the news: 1) the entire country being economically, politically and environmentally fucked plus we’re losing two wars, and 2) people who cannot necessarily articulate the specific elements of #1 blaming the dang government. The trick, if you want to get elected in 2010, is to make yourself part of story #2. Hence the popularity of Rand Paul and his father, Ron, whose views are extreme but whose personae are paradoxically that of the everyman. As Meghan McCain put it, “I can’t help but interpret the congressman’s cult-like, libertarian-leaning following as yet another indicator of a growing resentment of all people incumbent and in power in Washington.”
Those of you who question the value of newspaper journalism should check out the New York Times’s torrential coverage of Tuesday’s midterm congressional primaries, which appear to portend a vast wave of anti-incumbent sentiment. The emerging narrative is one of Tea Party-style rage gone mainstream, at least in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Kentucky—where GOP-chosen and Mitch McConnell-sponsored senatorial candidate Trey Grayson was defeated by Rand Paul. Yes, that Rand Paul. The man who has argued that the Federal Reserve, the Department of Education and pretty much all of the New Deal are unlawful infringements on the Constitution, who said in his victory speech that “capitalism is freedom” and declared himself a card-carrying member of the Tea Party, if only they issued cards, will now have to sell a specific, non yelling-based political platform to a general populace. Candidate Paul, welcome to compromise country, population: the rest of us.