What Rand Paul and Bill Clinton have in common

The secondary problem is that this coalition Paul is forming is one built around himself, and his own unique brand of politics, as opposed to an attempt to make a broader case for the right over the left. You can understand why this is, but it’s a basic distinction: Jack Kemp spent a significant portion of his career making the case that Republicans could be good representatives of inner city minorities, not that only Jack Kemp could do that. What Paul is doing will not help another nominee in 2016, only himself. We can talk of “expanding the party,” but the more accurate reality is that he is trying to create a list of voter preferences that goes: Paul, Warren, Clinton, and so on.

Right now, Paul enjoys the luxury of every Senator – the prerogative to weigh in on issues of his choosing and avoid thornier questions. Executives have no such problem – they have to respond to the issues that come to their desk. In election years, front runners have the same challenge. Will Paul be able to withstand it? Or will he have to make peace with the New Deal, the Great Society, the federal Department of Education, fiat money, Civil Rights law, and the foreign policy establishment to get there?

Yet the Clinton “all things to all people” model contains some hope for Paul’s approach. It was an appeal to the middle class in tax and regulatory policy. For Wall Street, it offered a lighter regulatory touch paired with an emphasis on free trade. To the hard hats, it offered Sister Souljah and welfare reform. To the feminists, it was Hillary at the policy forefront. It managed to build a coalition of middle class and elites and EITC.