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Rand Paul’s Filibuster: A Giant Step for Mankind

rand-paul-filibusterOkay, the subtitle of this article is a little overblown, but I heard something I found just plain fascinating the other day. In fact, it is something I haven’t heard for a long time.

I was researching in a university library, sitting at a table looking for data in a stack of scholarly journals, when I heard the most unlikely thing in such a place.

“Rand Paul’s filibuster is so cool,” a girl’s voice said. My mind was focused on tables of World Bank summaries of currency values in industrial nations, and there were a lot of voices as students walked past and talked. Most of them talked about classes, romances or roommates, and I tuned out to their words as I researched.

But my ears perked up and my mind tuned in when I heard these words. I looked up to see a college girl, probably late teens or early twenties walking with three friends. The others nodded in response to her words.

“Really?” I thought, “Somebody thinks a national Republican figure is cool?”

When I’ve heard such words before, it was always reserved by President Obama. I mean, Ronald Reagan gets his share of praise from the older crowd, but the college students I’ve overheard recently saying a politician is cool have all mentioned either Obama or Ron Paul.

But a Republican who really could win the nomination, this was something different.

As a writer, I like to read and research in libraries (‘cause that’s where the books are, to paraphrase Willy Horton), restaurants and other public areas. People walk by talking about things, and often they say something that helps an author’s thought process.

I went back to my research, and I forgot about the incident until I went to lunch. As I balanced my attention between a salad and copies of the World Bank tables, I was shocked to hear a girl from the next table say, “Did you see the filibuster yesterday? Rand Paul is so cool.”

I turned my head, expecting to see the same group of students, but to my surprise a whole different group sat there nodding.

What has happened?

Is it possible that Republicans will come up with a cool candidate in 2016? Maybe. It’s a long way off, to be sure. But the hippest candidate always wins, or at least has in every election since the technicolor media age began in earnest around 1980.

Howard Dean once said that the way to know who won a presidential debate is to turn off the sound and just watch their body language. On an even bigger scale, just turn off the television and internet and ask college-age students which candidate is really cool.

Jeb Bush suggested recently that he might run, Time magazine called potential candidate Marco Rubio the Savior of the Republican party. Or did it just ask us if Rubio might redeem a party that can’t seem to get the Latino vote vital to winning the White House.

The whole idea of electing a cool president is frustrating for many on the Right, who see this as shallow popularity contesting in what should be one of the most serious votes anyone makes in an election year. Still, the cool test wins every time, whether or not it should.

One thing is for sure. Hillary Clinton is considered way cool, so if Republicans have any desire to take back the presidency in 2016 they need to meet a high standard.

More Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibusters may be ahead, but Senator Paul’s filibuster seems to have caught many young people’s attention because it was so sincere. That’s hard to duplicate, but for now Rand Paul’s popularity in the college crowd is worth watching.

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