What is Sen. Rand Paul’s position on China?
Young, good-looking, and well educated, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is rising high on Republican political radars, but this gapping question remains one that he will have to answer on the road to the 2016 presidential election.
For his second year in a row, Sen. Paul won the straw poll at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week in San Diego. The poll is a strong predictor of conservative political sentiments. Two of the last three Republican presidents won the poll before getting the Republican nomination.
With a libertarian leaning that is strong but not as radical as his father, Sen. Paul seems to be the man in the right place at the right time. Obamacare is unpopular, the extent of the U.S. government’s domestic spying is unpopular, and taxes are always unpopular. Thus, the traditional libertarian war cry for less government seems truer now than it has at all times since the Revolutionary War.
But, if CPAC indicates chances for a Republican at the White House, then the China question indicates ability to lead and inspire the American spirit. And, for Sen. Paul, the stakes are even higher. I’ll explain.
The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly. It is no coincidence that this is the first of the amendments in the Bill of Rights. These intangible freedoms are quintessentially what make Americans who they are. They are the philosophical foundation that the country was built upon.
Today in China, there is no real freedom of religion, speech, press, or assembly. Human rights there are a joke. The Communist regime’s zero internet freedom is an obvious slap in the face to every ordinary American. The regime’s brutal and systematic persecution of peaceful Falun Gong practitioners is representative of the situation of many segments of China’s 1.3 billion population. Falun Gong is the modern equivalent of the early Christians, the Jews in Germany, and African Americans in the antebellum U.S. South.
Yet, we have free trade with China. Are we Americans or are we not? In their foreign policy debate in 2012, President Obama and Gov. Romney both neglected to mention the word “human rights” or even “freedom” when discussing China. Instead, Romney’s barks over China’s currency manipulation were rendered empty when both Romney and Obama agreed that China is our “partner.” Romney, who went into the race sounding like the leader on the China issue, crumbled from the heights of a political visionary to the depths of a whiney dandy.
Sen. Paul prizes himself as a “constitutional” conservative and has built his political persona around that. If he actually values the U.S. Constitution as much as he says he does then he will value the First Amendment more than short term economic interests. To put it another way, the China question is the test for everything that Paul stands for.
If he values the Constitution as greatly as he claims, then he will absolutely mention human rights and freedom when talking about China. Otherwise, his integrity and campaign will undoubtedly suffer a credibility crisis.
The head fogs with today’s issues,
Such hot topics, social debates, and war;
They obscure the sky’s pure bright blue
Behind near, yet low-lying, blur.
The open sky is the clearest,
Distant and difficult to hold
Yet all know that it’s the grandest;
Your vision just has to be bold.