In last week’s debate, Sen. Paul finally did what many of his supporters wanted him to do all along -- sound more like his dad.

One of the brightest sparks from last week’s first televised GOP debate came when Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie clashed over the 4th Amendment.  As some have pointed out, Paul and Christie’s spar over the government’s mass surveillance programs and their relevance to the war on terror -- as well as our Constitution -- signaled a new era of 9/11’s role in modern politics.  When Christie was asked about his long held belief that Paul and others in the GOP who exhibit “strains of libertarianism” would eventually cause another terrorist attack, the Governor doubled down on his statements, saying he was the only one on stage to ever file “applications under the Patriot Act.”  Paul shot back that Christie’s support of the NSA spying programs was exactly what the Founding Fathers fought against.  Then Christie was like, “when you’re sitting in subcommittee, just blowing hot air about this, you can say things like that!”  Then Sen. Paul was all like go give Obama a “big hug!”  Then Christie was like, “I only hug 9/11 victim’s families!”  Then it was over and I’m pretty sure there weren’t any hugs.

But let’s face it -- a debate between these two very-different presidential candidates has been a long time coming.  Not only because the two have sparred in the media for years and Christie represents the “terrorists are still gonna kill us all” wing of the GOP, but also because it was just a matter of time before Paul finally began to channel his inner-libertarian again -- a trait he thankfully inherited from his dad.  Of course, people should remember that Dr. Ron Paul went through a similar ordeal during a GOP debate on Fox News in May 2007.  Then-Congressman Paul was asked about his opinion of the Iraq War and explained (as elegantly as he could) his position on the matter -- that non-interventionism was once the way of the Republican party, U.S. forces had been bombing the Middle East for decades, our presence there had earned Osama bin Laden’s hatred and more war was not going to stop terrorism.  As soon as Rep. Paul finished his humble anti-war monologue, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani piped in and said he was insulted that Paul suggested the U.S. deserved to be attacked on 9/11 -- which is not what Paul said -- and demanded an apology.  The crowd burst into thunderous applause.

It seemed like the campaign of the meek-looking, soft-spoken libertarian congressman from Texas was done, but instead the exchange later became known as the “Ron Paul Moment” and inspired a generation of anti-war conservatives and liberals to learn more about libertarianism -- myself included.  Similarly, Sen. Paul may have found his own “Ron Paul Moment” in last week’s debate, but in this case, the “Moment” marks the end of the 9/11 scare tactics that have driven the GOP for so long.  Sen. Paul even got to end his exchange with Christie with an eyeroll. If Ron Paul tried to do that in 2008, the jeers would’ve been brutal.  But this is 2015 and the political climate has changed.  Americans -- particularly young ones of the millennial generation -- are tired of war.  Some of us have lost friends or family to it, our veterans have lost their minds and/or limbs to it, and when they come home the government does a shitty job of taking care of them.  Heck, the federal government doesn’t even let veterans legally use medical marijuana to treat their illnesses.  So why should we vote for Christie, who’s just another bloated, war-loving, credit-losing, loud-mouth hypocrite?  When he says that people in Colorado should “enjoy” legal marijuana while they can, does he really think he’s making any new friends in the under-35 crowd?  On the other hand, Paul has said he’d respect states’ marijuana laws and has advocated for lowering mandatory minimums in cases of drug crimes.  Although he’s not as anti-war as his father, he’s still probably the least hawkish of the GOP presidential field.  Perhaps Paul realizes that his libertarian-leaning cards are different enough for him to stand out, but the more he puts them down on this crowded table, the more his father’s supporters will likely cheer him on.

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