Rand Paul

Rand Paul at Howard University

by Jennifer Rubin, WashingtonPost.com  |  published on April 11, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) delivered an important and intriguing speech at Howard University as part of his determined effort to expand the reach of the GOP and take his message everywhere.

His remarks, as prepared for delivery, highlighted the best and the worst aspects of his thinking, and they left some question marks.

First, he was on firm ground in acknowledging the Republicans’ failure to connect with African Americans. “How did the party that elected the first black U.S. senator, the party that elected the first 20 African American congressmen, become a party that now loses 95 percent of the black vote? How did the Republican Party, the party of the Great Emancipator, lose the trust and faith of an entire race?” He bracketed that question by reminding his audience of the long and storied involvement of Republicans in emancipation and civil rights in his own state of Kentucky. And he posited an answer: “During the Great Depression … African Americans understood that Republicans championed citizenship and voting rights, but they became impatient for economic emancipation.”

He then explained the contrasting visions of the two parties, and, in doing so, made the case for conservatism as a more effective approach to fighting poverty and increasing upward mobility:

African Americans languished below white Americans in every measure of economic success and the Depression was especially harsh for those at the lowest rung of poverty.

The Democrats promised equalizing outcomes through unlimited federal assistance while Republicans offered something that seemed less tangible: the promise of equalizing opportunity through free markets.

Now, Republicans face a daunting task. Several generations of black voters have never voted Republican and are not very open to even considering the option.

Democrats still promise unlimited federal assistance and Republicans promise free markets, low taxes and less regulations that we believe will create more jobs.

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