What Happened to Rand Paul?

Rand Paul was supposed to be a different kind of Republican — a Republican who championed individual liberty, but who also did not wade into the culture wars or any war for that matter. He was supposed to be the Republican who could pull in younger and perhaps even more liberal voters frustrated by the lack of progress on civil issues.

However, the senator from Kentucky’s campaign has been troubling to some who believed he would be a standard bearer for a new kind of Republican. Instead, he is campaigning like he is running to replace Sean Hannity.

Running to the right is nothing new in the early phases of the Republican primary, but if Rand Paul is going to be the general election contender he says he is, he is going to have to start building a broader coalition. And so far he is doing a terrible job.

If there is a chink in the liberal armor of California, it may rest in Silicon Valley. The tech Garden of Eden has earned a reputation as a libertarian strong hold, with many start-up companies having a natural aversion to government regulations and taxes. It is the perfect spot to campaign for anyone who might want to flex their libertarian muscles — like Rand Paul.

But on a recent trip to the West Coast, Paul came out against the recent net neutrality ruling that affirmed that major Internet service providers (ISPs) cannot throttle or dilute service to companies or consumers for any reason. The ruling is widely believed to both level the playing field for young tech companies who are looking to gain a foothold in the market and protect consumers from spiking service prices.

When asked about is opposition to net neutrality, Paul changed the premise of the question and said:

“One way of fixing (spiking service prices), rather than regulating the Internet — let’s deregulate and get rid of government monopolies for the final end run, the final mile of distribution.”- U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

What is frustrating about this argument is that it reverts everything back to trying to prove a negative. “If there was no government, this wouldn’t happen” is a common trope in many political circles, but it ignores the reality that of course there is a government and there are real world consequences to having a government.

Paul’s position comes in direct opposition to not only young start-up companies, but major tech players like Google and Facebook — and people are taking notice.

Shelly Kapoor Collins, CEO and founder of Enscient, a San Francisco-based science and technology firm, told the SF Gate that “Rand Paul and San Francisco go together like oil and water, and voters shouldn’t be fooled by his claims that he’s a ‘different’ kind of Republican. He’s just not.”

This comes on the heels of a very bizarre couple of weeks for the Paul campaign. After Rand botched a response to Baltimore and gave credence to a wild conspiracy theory, a Paul staffer licked the lens of a videographer at a campaign rally. It is starting to feel like the wheels are coming off for the Rand Paul campaign.