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Opinion: Rand Paul is good (and bad) for young people

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Since Obama’s re-election in 2012, Republican leaders have been gearing up for the next election, ready to take back the White House. One thing the party lacks, though, is a consistent candidate on whom the majority agrees. As of now, at least 10 GOP hopefuls have thrown their hats in the ring, both officially and unofficially.

Wednesday, Rand Paul announced his candidacy for president, with hopes to bring a more neutral voice to the White House. As a Libertarian, Paul adopts some liberal principles but remains strong to his conservative roots—something the country needs in a time of plateaued unemployment rates and a crippling national debt. For young people, Paul could be the leader we need for a more promising future, but like all candidates, he comes with some baggage.

Paul does have a few things working in his favor. Constituent employment is a top priority, and since Paul took office in 2011, Kentucky’s unemployment has dropped from 9.8 percent to 5.5 percent. Additionally, his state’s youth unemployment has dropped from a staggering 18.1 percent to 14.3 percent.

He has proven that he can stand for his beliefs and will be a stern leader, not afraid to stand up to other political figures. In 2013 he stood in front of the Senate for a 13-hour filibuster. The filibuster came after Obama refused to confirm he would not use drones against Americans on U.S. soil, an issue Paul and all Americans can get behind. He also publically criticized Obama for his lenience with Vladimir Putin, claiming the president is “insecure” and has “inabilities” to deal with the Russian leader.

Paul already has a plan of action should he take office, possessing realistic goals that aim to hold leaders accountable and freeze the national debt so it is no longer a burden for our generation. One of Paul’s top priorities is to require Congress read all legislation that comes through before voting. He also plans to add term limits to avoid “career politicians” who do not take their jobs seriously.  His plan for government accountability is something all young people can get behind.

While Paul does have youth appeal, he may not be the GOP’s finest candidate for president. Paul currently holds a Senate seat and has never been in a gubernatorial or executive position. To name Paul head of the executive branch is a complete switch of careers, and he may not be adequately prepared for the position.

Additionally, Paul began his political career as a Tea Partiest in 2010. While his politics have certainly mellowed and he has established bipartisan grounds, it is extremely difficult for young people to connect with Tea Party values. The party has been criticized for pushing the GOP too far to the right, especially by moderate Republicans. Young Republicans have an especially negative impression, and their favorability of the Tea Party decreased by 12 percent in recent years, leaving only 25 percent of young Republicans in favor of the movement.

While Paul is clearly far from the perfect candidate, he offers young people the hope Obama still has not delivered. He has a good track record with decreasing unemployment; he stands up for his country and the safety of its people, and he plans to finally hold the federal government accountable. He is a promising candidate and a figure to watch in the coming months.

And to answer everyone’s burning question, no he has  not tried to legalize weed yet. But he did say, “I’m against the federal government telling [the states] they can’t.”

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