There are true believers, inside the Republican Party, and then there are the pretenders. The ones willing to say anything, for a bit of publicity or applause, and to say the opposite a few weeks or months later when the circumstances change. Sen. Rand Paul may be the poster child for the latter. The man exists as somewhat-sentient fundraising letter. He may have never harbored a deeply held belief in his life.
Rand Paul was not one of the nearly 150 Republican lawmakers to vote to throw out electoral votes that went against Donald Trump for farcical, demonstrably hoax-based reasons, but you can’t chalk that up to any shred of integrity on Paul’s part. He was on television again today to very boldly promote those same conspiracies, making claims of unspecified fraud that may have been responsible for Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump despite no such evidence being found or even credibly offered up to any courtroom, after 60+ pro-Trump attempts.
He’s lying, and his response to being called a liar is to blame the “liberal media” for not granting his hoaxes equal weight to the truth. That he is doing this after an attempted assassination attempt targeting multiple top public officials—an attempt goaded by these precise hoaxes–is a good demonstration of the man’s endless cynicism. There is no good or evil in the world, no truth or fiction: There is only what Rand Paul wants to say so as to best craft his next fundraising ask.
All Paul had to do was assert that no, the election “was not stolen” from Trump. Not only did he refuse, he pretended that he was being oppressed by the media not taking his evidenceless claims seriously. It’s all a game. This has been the conservative schtick in every venue, in this new post-truth era. From climate change denial to invisible “fraud” that nobody can see but somehow manages to throw national elections, possibly due to the lingering influence of dead Venezuelan leaders, every power-seeking conservative hack proclaims that false information must be given the same dignity granted to true information, and to do otherwise is yet another conspiracy against conservatives.
Look at me, whined Senator Fundraising Letter soon afterwards. Look at me standin’ up for factless bullshitting.
He has none. He hasn’t even pretended otherwise. The game is to claim that the hoaxes ought to be considered because it benefits Rand Paul, personally, to promote them. Promoting the hoaxes gains him followers among Trump’s forever-gullible, easily cheated base; gaining such followers is, for any conservative powerbroker you can name, the Holy Grail of mailing-list influence. These are the people who have proven themselves willing to believe anything; you could sell them protein shakes made from pureed bicycle tires, if you told them it would drive away communism.
Rand Paul once painted himself as a libertarian, mainly because he inhered his father’s mailing lists and knew which lane he had to park himself in to keep the checks rolling in. But he has adapted effortlessly to the new fascist environment, one premised on useful lies to goad the party’s base into believing that non-Republican rule is illegitimate, regardless of who wins elections or who does or does not turn the White House into a den of organized crime.
He is doing it for the money. That is all. He is doing it because he wants to be a Big Cheese, in government, and have his name bandied about, and appear on television programs to roll out new marketing approaches. He is for and against everything you can think of. He is an independent thinker and a relentless peddler of other people’s talking points, all at once. The man is quite thoroughly hollow.
There are a great many within the Republican Party who genuinely believe the lies their fringe elements craft to explain away all party failures, but Paul, like counterparts Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, are not among them. They believe they can ride fascism’s tiger to gain higher and higher levels of personal power, and seem to never even consider that they could just as easily be its next meal.