Senator Rand Paul is described by many as a black sheep in the Republican Party. His career prior to his election into The US Senate doesn’t necessarily stick to the status quo of a politician. His highest level of education is not in political science or law, rather he’s a graduate of Duke University School of Medicine. After dropping out of Baylor University in 1984 he was later accepted into Duke University and finished his ophthalmology residency there by 1993(Senete.gov). In 1999 he married his wife Kelly and they moved to Bowling Green Kentucky, to start a family and begin Paul’s medical practice. He established his own clinic in December 2007 and had started a family with Kelly raising three sons. Rand Paul became involved in politics in 1994, when he founded Kentucky Taxpayers United, a group that tracked taxation and spending in Kentucky until it dissolved in 2000. His political activism gained real national attention when he campaigned for his father, Ron Paul’s run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. As Rand’s time in politics carried on he gained a strong following of people in the state of Kentucky who supported his ideas of focusing on shrinking government power and strengthening constitutional rights(ontheissues.org). His stance on these issues along with other policies such as lowering taxes and government spending helped him win the U.S. Senate seat for Kentucky in 2010. The demographic profile of Kentucky is heavily populated by white citizens, with a lopsided 85.8% majority(census.gov). The conservative views of the self-proclaimed libertarian Jack Conway allowed Paul to beat him out with a total of 755,411 votes and a 55.7% majority win(Ballotpedia.org). Paul’s main campaign contributions came from itemized individual contributions totaling over 4 million dollars and received a mere $43,700 from his party committees’ contributions(opensecrets.org). This further highlights that Rand Paul is a foreigner in regards to the Republican Party.
Senator Rand Paul spoke at the Voters First Presidential Forum and referred to himself as “A different kind of Republican”. The senator’s legislative policies can be viewed as atypical compared to his congressional peers. Though he is a Republican he can best described as a Tea Party Libertarian. Socially he is more conservative with a states right slant that makes him such a unique politician. His consistent ideological track record along with the general public’s distaste for Congress has allowed Paul to obtain significant roles such as a place on The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and as a member on Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism. Rand Paul’s foreign policy focuses heavily on how the US cannot dictate policy in other countries(heritage.org). Paul is no isolationist, but his view on foreign aid being handed out to countries all over the world is a topic of controversy. When the Senator introduced S. 633 to prohibit certain assistance to the Palestinian Authority he raised interesting points on the subject of foreign aid. Each year millions of dollars in the form of tax payer’s money are given out to countries to project American ideals (Rand Paul). Unfortunately, the only thing consistent with foreign aid is that is continues to flow out regardless of the behavior of the recipients. During his introduction of The Stand with Israel Act, Paul first mentions the nation of Egypt as an example of how foreign aid is stolen or taken in graft by the Mubarak Family. When we establish restrictions of foreign aid it seems to always be evaded. The US has contingencies stating if military take overs occur in foreign nations we support; Our government is supposed to cut aid when such actions occur. Rather than uphold the standard set in law, we allowed Egypt to still receive our tax payer’s money even though they have violated our foreign aid policy. The senator believes that if we want our money to go to activities America stands for than it should be written into law. Attaching an amendment to foreign aid stating that progress towards democracy must be noticeable in order for our foreign aid to flow out to our “allies” was proposed in an earlier Senate congressional meeting by Senator Patrick Leahy. Paul’s ideology on foreign aid has changed over his years serving in Congress. In 2011, Paul who had only been serving for 1 year proposed, eliminate all foreign aid & rebuild America instead(ontheissues.org). Over the years Senator Paul’s policy has shifted towards a more progressive approach. When he proposed S. 633 any political scientist could observe his foreign aid approach had altered since 2011. Pushing for real democratic progress in other countries with the incentive of restrictions on continuous financial support could bring real change to the world in Paul’s opinion(randpaul.com). The Senator asked for unanimous approval of the Stand with Israel Act to show our ally Israel we are here to help, along with a firm statement to the Palestinian authority that they need to formally recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State. Paul claims this to be a pertinent mainly due to the issue of the terrorist group Hamas along with the Palestinian leaders have formed a unity government. Hamas originated in Gaza, but with financial support from their new ally in the Palestinian authority, the ability to grow and spread their ideals increases exponentially. Part of the charter of Hamas is heavily focused on the destruction of the state of Israel(haaretz.com). Fatah, the leaders of the Palestinian state are not only receiving our hard working tax payer’s money in the hundreds of millions, they are now highlighting the hypocrisy of all the US officials that claim to be pro-Israel.
The Stand with Israel Act consists of seven major requirements for the Palestinian government to abide by. Besides formally recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, it demands Palestine publicly recognize the state of Israel specifically, renounce terrorism, purge all individual with terrorist ties from security services, terminate finding of anti- American and anti-Israel incitement, publically pledge to not engage in war with Israel, and honor previous diplomatic agreements (congress.gov). As a member of The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Rand Paul has been able to travel and actually speak with the Prime Minister and President of Israel about this ongoing war between Palestine and Israel. Paul even met with the King of Jordan and they agree in regards to the fact that there cannot be a separate peace in the region. The entire region has a true lack of partisanship between nations(Rubin). Hamas being part of a unity government in Palestine will hinder any progress towards peace. Israel has missiles launched and bombs planted on their homeland by Hamas. The terrorist group acquired even closer real estate to their borders of their enemies. Paul raises all these points in the 114th congressional session to highlight to American people along with all the senators that our tax dollars are going to a cause that we won’t see any change in unless we level the playing field. Senator Paul claims the money is better spent in our own nation fixing bridges and funding school programs. The contingencies and restrictions of our foreign aid are so easy to get through, Paul compares the hole in our rules big enough to “fit a truck through”. The limitations on foreign aid in our nation are not seen as practical in the eyes of Paul. The loopholes have gone on for long enough and S. 633 is the first step in the right direction to revolutionary foreign aid policy.
Rand Paul is a politician for the people, and carries out their views into the Senate very well. Most Americans (51%) believe that the U.S. gives too much in foreign aid, while only 9% think that the U.S. should give more to developing countries(yougov.com). In our class reading on the defeat of Eric Cantor is another example of how the American people are now voting against the establishment. Rand Paul and David Brat, the professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, that toppled Senator Cantor are a new breed of politicians in the 21st century. Politicians like these two have the support of the people, but their battle against the lobbyists and other political figures involved in congressional action have hindered their success in passing their bills. The truth is that Congress’s legislative process can be purchased through massive campaign donations(Bobson). This is bribery at its finest. When Eric Cantor spent one million dollars in the last week of his senate race when the poll predictions showed his lack of attention to the actual issues of the people: This illustrates to the American people another instance of the establishment trying to buy elections regardless. The process of law making in Congress is heavily influenced by the millions of campaign donations, due to every politician’s main priority is reelection(Slingshot). Since the laws are federal and the influence is at a national scale, the money is spent in the hundreds of millions in Congress.
The Supreme Court passing of legislation in 2010 reversing 20 years of restrictions on corporate campaign contributions has not favored Rand Paul’s influence, but rather his stereotypical by the book republican constituents(foxnews.com). The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the country’s top pro-Israel outfit is the specific lobbying group will not support new legislation that would cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinians(Kredo). AIPAC has both many republicans and democrats in their pockets through their massive campaign contributions. The Zionist lobby gives millions to pro-Israel US politicians and gives millions to the enemies of politicians that criticize Zionism and Israel. They make sure the USA gives Israel free money, weapons, and continues to fight wars for Israel (like Iraq) and use USA’s power at the UN for Israel(Bobson). Its rather ironic the most influential pro-Israel lobby group believes the law currently on the books is strong and ensures that aid is contingent on key conditions that help maintain America’s influence, keep Israel secure, and advance the peace process. An AIPAC insider touched on this topic stating “I want to be very clear, AIPAC supports a cut off of aid to any Palestinian government that includes an unreformed Hamas, and this is what is provided for in current law” (Kredo) yet they do not support Rand Paul’s bill that proposes those exact actions. The worst part is that American tax payers are the ones who really get the short end of the stick. The hugely expensive apartheid wall in Israel and all the weapons we send them for defense actually fuels the conflict in the region, rather than help resolve it(Bobson). Not only does AIPAC buy U.S elections, it funds the foreign conflict of Israel and Palestine with supplying military power rather than focusing on reaching peace; The American people are paying for the demise of their own democracy. Rand Paul symbolizes David fighting the near impossible battle against goliath otherwise known as the establishment.
Our Congress simulation removed all factors of lobbying and the concern of re-election for Senators through the evidence of the majority of bills proposed in class were passed. Starting with the committee meetings, the process of decision making of each senator mainly was influenced on party affiliation along with a small margin of research and information from websites such as (ontheissues.org). During the simulation of The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations my justification of The Stand with Israel Act received an almost unanimous win only missing one vote for the outcome of the bill. Meanwhile, the stand with Israel Act in the actual committee has been read more than once and has been brought to the floor. The bill failed to get the support similar to the simulation where only one objection on the floor was stated. The floor simulation passing of S. 633 shows us that the bill justification was a complete success with a margin of victory of 14-6. Overall my analysis of the committee meetings was that they were heavily influenced by party affiliation, while the floor meeting ironically highlighted the student’s personal views more. This explains why the process of passing laws is so elongated and when there are no outside influences, change occurs much quicker. If the Senate wasn’t filled with senators who are more focused on their own self-interests, there would be progressive action in foreign aid and other important issues the United States has to deal with.
The political perspective of Rand Paul stems from his stance as a constitutional conservative(Hunter). Paul’s vision of bringing power back to the people and shrinking the influence of the establishment has gained him a large support from the millennials. The simulation was the perfect platform to show that younger people believe in his ideologies. All students in our class are under the age of 28 and not exactly political activists besides a few exceptions. Upon the beginning of my research of the Stand with Israel Act the shocking fact on how millions of tax payer’s dollars is flooded out to a stale mate in a foreign war angered me. I believe that when the floor and committee members in our simulation heard this they reacted in the same way. Many other Senators in our class discussed domestic change and how there are problems at home we need to solve first. On January 29, 2016, the U.S. national debt exceeded $19 trillion, more than America’s annual economic output as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The last time the debt to GDP ratio was more than 100% was to pay for World War II. The debt crisis is a real issue facing America(Amadeo). The younger generation fears this catastrophe will possibly affect our future as we strive to prosper and rejuvenate our nation. As my analysis of the simulation continued I saw how our results showed similarities to the results of the Presidential Election. President Elect Trump won because his political ideals and ideologies are not ones of the standard politician. As stated earlier, most politicians are bought and controlled by lobbyists. Rand Paul’s book Government Bullies tells the ongoing story on how everyday Americans are being abused by federal government. The people of America want advancements in infrastructure along with other aspects that actually effect the domestic issues of the country. We endure a federal government that has virtually invaded every aspect of our lives. Americans want to elect leaders who can be held accountable and aren’t focused on reaping the financial benefits of the establishment. Senator Paul’s brave political theories raise the touchy subjects that not many people want to discuss. In theory the recent political shift in the United States along with a non-avoidable influence by the millennials will bring more radical politicians like Rand Paul into office. As the 21st century continues to unfold and the access of public political information through technology increases, the power of the people has the change to return to the United States. The entire process of the simulation served as a great activity to practice partisanship even if it is just a class room situation. Paul’s ideology exemplifies the results we had in our very own congressional hearings. Paul believes The loyal citizens of this great nation are entitled to, and not only deserve a government that does not seek to control them, but one that encourages individual growth and mobility. The simulation allowed the students to play the role of a functioning constituency, propose renewed policies for the United States in which the government truly contributes to the wellbeing and success of its citizens. Removing the establishment from our political activity hopefully persuaded all of the class members to take interest in political process. Being a political science major during a time when the general public has such a distaste for politics is concerning. To see my fellow classmates, work hard and participate in a higher level of political awareness and activism in our simulation gives me hope for our future. The only way to get better at anything in life is to practice consistently. My explanation of the benefits of the simulation is it forced the students to adopt the mindset of a politician for an extended period of time. As the simulation progressed and more bills were proposed the number of debates increased. Led by most of the political science majors along with politically active and prepared students, the class adopted a more stereotypical legislative decision making process. For example, when Marco Rubio proposed The Foreign Aid and Transparency Act, which requires the President to establish guidelines for the establishment of measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans for U.S(congress.gov). Rand Paul, who cosponsored the bill in the actual Senate Foreign Relations Committee would voice his views if the bill faced opposition. Therefore, when Barbara Mikulski voiced her concern in our simulation stating the bill would allocate to much information to the general public, I was ready for my rebuttal. Rand Paul opposes Net Neutrality Rules and believes there should be no regulation of the internet(Liebelson). The debate between myself and Senator Mikulski modeled the format on how issues are argued in Congress.
The assignment forced the students to understand, explain, and justify their senator’s legislative decision making. The information collected about the senator’s constituencies, ideologies, and political perspective informed all class members to be prepared for political debate. Rand Paul symbolizes part of the political shift in our society. As the black sheep in the republican party, Senator Paul has gained a strong following in the people. The Stand with Israel Act was an excellent bill for this research because it is an example of a radical bill proposed by a different kind of republican. Analysis of the bill and its lack of success it’s had in the actual congressional meetings raises the potent influences of lobbying oversight of the legislative process in the United States. In theory the recent political shift in the United States along with a non-avoidable influence by the frustrated millennials will bring more radical politicians like Rand Paul into office. The simulations passing of 14 of the 17 proposed bills highlighted the potential progressive political action when all the outside influences of politics didn’t partake in the influences of voting. In conclusion Rand Paul being a constitutional conservative who wants the power returned of the people and the weakening of the establishment allowed this research to branch into many aspects of political science and the legislative process here in the United States.
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