One of these things doesn’t belong. And I think it might be Rand Paul.
The Republican Senator from Kentucky delivered an intriguing, but head-scratching speech at Howard University today in an effort to reach the historically black university and expand the reach of GOP influence everywhere.
The speech, where he essentially begged students for Republican support, was chock-full of semi-apologies from the party to minorities, inaccurate history lessons, and a few shout outs to famous Howard alumni that Paul probably thought could get him some brownie points.
But what Paul doesn’t know is that Howard students can see right through the veil. A quick peek at commentary from professors and students showed that they weren’t really buying the nervous, shaky sales pitch.
It did, however, make for some interesting dialogue and a few “WTF?” moments.
Crazy or brilliant? Whatever these statements were, they definitely made us go “hmmm.”
Here are some of our favorites:
On how the Republican Party lost the black vote:
“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? During the Great Depression … African Americans understood that Republicans championed citizenship and voting rights, but they became impatient for economic emancipation.”
Nope. No. I don’t think that was the turning point. Maybe Paul needs a history lesson.
On why he doesn’t agree with raising taxes:
“Using taxes to punish the rich, in reality, punishes everyone because we are all interconnected. High taxes and excessive regulation and massive debt are not working.”
Ehh…I think the problem here is that poor people and rich people are actually pretty separate. So…
On the perception that Republicans always favor war:
“I want you to know that all Republicans do not clamor for war, that many Republicans believe in a strong national defense that serves to preserve the peace.”
Oh, please, tell me more about how Republicans favor peace!
On former Howard University professor and author Toni Morrison:
“Toni Morrison said, ‘If there is a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’ I can recite books that have been written, or I can plunge into the arena and stumble and maybe fall but at least I will have striven. What I am about is a philosophy that leaves YOU to fill in the blanks. I am not black. I am not Latino. I am not Asian American. I am like many Americans, not definably of any one origin.”
What the fuck is he talking about? No, seriously, what is the meaning of this?
On the war on drugs:
“I am working with Democratic senators to make sure that kids who make bad decisions, such as non-violent possession of drugs, are not imprisoned for lengthy sentences. I am working to make sure that first-time offenders are put into counseling and not imprisoned with hardened criminals. We should not take away anyone’s future over one mistake.”
Mind officially blown! Clap it up for Paul Rand, ladies and gentlemen! Finally, something that we can both agree on!
On two kids, one black, one white, who could have fallen victim to non-violent possession of drugs. Their names: Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
“Instead, they both went on to become presidents of the United States. But for the grace of God, it could have turned out much differently.”
Well, no because there’s this thing called equality and fairness that I’m not sure America has grasped yet…
On being nervous to speak at an HBCU:
“Some people have asked if I’m nervous about speaking at Howard. They say “You know, some of the students and faculty may be Democrats…” My response is that my trip will be a success if the Hilltop will simply print that a Republican came to Howard but he came in peace.”
Because you are an alien. And you know this.
On civil rights:
“What gets lost is that the Republican Party has always been the party of civil rights and voting rights. I have never wavered in my support for civil rights or the civil rights act.”
More on how the Republican Party favors civil rights:
“The tragedy of segregation and Jim Crow in the South is compounded when you realize that integration began in New England in the 1840’s and 1850’s.”
No. I don’t think it began there. But moving on…
“The Republican Party’s history is rich and chock full of emancipation and black history.
Republicans still prize the sense of justice that MLK spoke of when he said that ‘an unjust law is any law the majority enforces on a minority but does not make binding upon itself.’ Republicans have never stopped believing that minorities, whether they derive from the color of their skin or shade of their ideology should warrant equal protection.”
On the only famous person he knows from Howard University.
“As Toni Morrison said, write your own story. Challenge mainstream thought.”
Dude, that’s not winning us over.
And as a bonus:
“I hope that some of you will be open to the Republican message that favors choice in education, a less aggressive foreign policy, more compassion regarding non-violent crime and encourages opportunity in employment.
And when the time is right, I hope that African Americans will again look to the party of emancipation, civil liberty, and individual freedom.”
Way to dodge the real problems of race and equality!
Good try Rand Paul. But whatever you’re selling…we’re not buying.
(Want to see the rest of the speech? Click here)