Republican Sen. Rand Paul said that relations between Democrats and Republicans are strong at a talk on campus Monday.
Paul, a U.S. Senator from Kentucky and School of Medicine '88, spoke at an event at the Sanford School of Public Policy hosted by Young Americans for Liberty and POLIS in a wide-ranging speech, but predominantly emphasized the possibility of compromise between the right and the left.
Paul acknowledged that there are differences in opinion between the two sides, but denied accounts of incivility in Washington. Contrary to popular belief, relations between the right and the left are very good, Paul argued.
Paul pointed to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two Founding Fathers who diverged on many issues, to convey that differences in opinion have always existed, but they but that it in no way determines the ability of the two sides to cooperate.
“You do not always have to define yourself in terms of your party,” said Paul. “A good example is a libertarian.”
Reaching a compromise does not always have to involve settling the difference—a model like that of trial by jury is unfit for deciding such questions, Paul said. Rather, the two parties must actively embrace other methods of reaching common ground.
Paul was asked about how how officeholders could be more mindful about the language they use. He argued that officeholders need to realize that yelling and screaming do not do any good. Americans need to value immigrants and other minorities as great asset to the American melting pot, Paul said.
In relation to social issues, Paul referenced famed German theologian Martin Niemöller's work.
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist….Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me,” Niemöller wrote.
In this vein, Paul argued that there is a need to take a stance against evils such as the widespread racial disparity of the justice system. Too many people of color spend years in prison awaiting trials because release bonds are set at too high a price, Paul said.
Paul also said that the most fundamental job of the government is “to protect people's liberty.” He is an advocate of a small government, one so small that you “almost cannot see it.”
Although he emphasized that it is the government’s duty to ensure that there is universality in the way people are treated, he does not believe that “the government should be in the redistribution business.”
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In light of a shooting Wednesday night that left 12 dead in a California bar, Paul said that that banning guns will not need lead to any less gun violence—California's strict gun regulation didn't stop the most recent mass shooting. Instead, communities must recognize potentially threatening individuals and take early warnings signs seriously.
Paul answered a final question about libertarian perspective on abortion. Libertarians advocate for non-intrusive principles, but there is no clear pro-life or pro-choice consensus, Paul said. Libertarians are divided on the issues because they have diverging opinions as to whether and when a fetus can be considered a living child, Paul said.