Primary voters in Kentucky delivered an unmistakable message to the Republican establishment on Tuesday: They want principled conservatives, not accommodating career politicians, to represent them in Washington. It looks increasingly likely that their wish will be granted now that Rand Paul has secured the Grand Old Party's nomination by a crushing 23-point margin over his nearest opponent.
Dr. Paul, an eye surgeon by trade, has never held elected office. He defeated Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, whom the party leadership had anointed to take the Senate seat held by retiring Republican Senator and baseball Hall of Famer Jim Bunning. The party bosses' plans were upset by a campaign marked by one candidate's superior organization skills and clear vision for the country.
"We need to be proud of capitalism," Dr. Paul noted in an acceptance speech that hit on the fundamental cause of our current economic woes. The failure of arrogant congressional leaders to restrain themselves from spending other people's money, not capitalism, created our $13 trillion debt. The same unrestrained spending triggered the economic collapse in Greece, but instead of taking this as a lesson to the world about the failure of socialism, established politicians are proposing more bailouts. Dr. Paul's most pointed criticism was reserved for President Obama's December trip to Copenhagen to apologize to "petty dictators" like Hugo Chavez for the Industrial Revolution in the name of solving the purported problem of so-called global warming.
The alternative message is simple, direct and conservative: Restrain government by following the Constitution. Credit for getting that message out in the Bluegrass State goes to the Campaign for Liberty, a group that grew out of Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul's surprisingly strong 2008 run for the GOP presidential nomination. This week's victory by Rand Paul highlights the effectiveness of his congressman father's insurgent political operation and the resonance of his combination of libertarian and conservative ideas. With the support of the Tea Party movement, these grass-roots activists proved that their enthusiasm was worth far more than endorsements from Washington insiders.
The ordinary men and women who make up the Tea Party want candidates who embrace the values of our Founding Fathers and can communicate them clearly. They know that the politicians who rely on focus group-tested statements to appeal to both sides of contentious issues are the same ones who will later compromise once in office. Even the Republican establishment must now grudgingly admit that the voters made the right call in selecting the man who will take a stand when it counts.
"We're confident that Dr. Rand Paul will be elected the next U.S. senator from Kentucky this November," Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, wrote Tuesday night in a memo to fellow Senate leaders. We're confident it will be good for the Republican spine to have a Dr. Paul in both houses of Congress.