Kentucky Senator Rand Paul hopes to be the Republican Presidential nominee in 2016. But his chances of appealing to a wide swath of Americans are sinking, especially since his speech at the Texas Republican Convention on Friday.
During his speech, Paul once again whined about President Obama swapping five members of the Taliban for Bowe Bergdahl, the last remaining American POW in Afghanistan. Conservatives, despite once complaining that President Obama hadn’t brought him home, are now throwing a temper tantrum because he did just that. For the first time in American history, a political party is actually saying that we as a country should have left a captured soldier behind. But Rand Paul took it a step further during his speech. After telling a story about a Marine named Andrew Tahmooressi, who was arrested in Mexico for crossing the border with three firearms in his vehicle, Paul called upon President Obama to make a trade. The Tea Party senator said Obama should trade five Democrats to Mexico in exchange for Tahmooressi, drawing cheers from the crowd:
“Mr. President, you love to trade people. Why don’t we set up a trade? But this time, instead of five Taliban, how about five Democrats? I’m thinking John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi. Couldn’t we send them to Mexico?”
Afterwards, Paul told reporters at a news conference that his little quip was merely a “joke.”
“It was a joke. Except for Nancy Pelosi, I was serious about her… Well, I mean, it’s humor, and I hope there’s room for humor. I thought it was funny. It was meant to be humorous.”
Paul even posted the “joke” on social media:
“Mr. President, let’s set up a new trade. Instead of 5 Taliban, let’s trade 5 Democrats!” #RPTCon14
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) June 6, 2014
The conservative extremists in Texas may have laughed, but most people didn’t find what Paul said funny at all.
Many of the comments on Paul’s Twitter feed are critical of what he said. After all, Paul pretty much suggested that Democrats be used as bargaining chips in future negotiations to bring home captured soldiers. And considering how much conservatives hate Democrats these days, it wouldn’t be surprising if many actually take what Paul said seriously. He openly compared Democrats to members of the Taliban and chose to keep Taliban prisoners instead of Democrats who were elected by the American people.
Such rhetoric, even if meant as a joke, is destructive and is why the political discourse in this country has become so divided. It encourages an atmosphere of hatred and partisanship that has brought the government to a near standstill. Furthermore, it degrades the democratic process. Republicans like Paul seem perfectly willing to trade elected officials they don’t like or agree with to terrorists. Interestingly enough, Paul mentioned trading Hillary Clinton, who could very well be the Democratic nominee in 2016. According to a poll, Clinton would destroy Paul in a head to head match-up by a crushing 17 points, 53%-36%. It’s understandable that Paul would want to get rid of Clinton by sending her out of the country permanently. It’s probably the only way he’d have a chance to win in 2016.
Just kidding. He still wouldn’t win.