He probably needs no introduction, but Rand Paul is in any case the junior United States Senator from Kentucky, serving since 2011. Son of Ron, Rand Paul’s main qualification for an entry here is the fact that he is one of DC’s most prominent antivaccine apologists (after Congressman Bill Posey). NowPaul is
in fact arguably an MD (ophthalmologist), but he is also a member of the deranged crank organization the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which sort of negates any credentials he might (perhaps) have on paper.
With regard to vaccines, Paul has bought heavily into the antivaccine propaganda, claiming in 2011 that “I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.” There is, of course, no link between vaccines and “profound mental disorders”. In fact, Paul clarified his comment a few days later, saying that “I did not say vaccines caused disorders, just that they were temporally related ... I support vaccines, I receive them myself and I had all of my children vaccinated.” Indeed, for all we know, Paul may, in fact, not believe that vaccines cause “profound mental disorders” (though the evidence is at best inconclusive and may have made the first comment just to appease the conspiracy theorists that tend to flock his events; it doesn’t matter – the mere willingness to cater to the antivaccine crowd in this manner makes you a serious loon. (In fact, the “temporal relation” claim is dubious, too.) In any case, Paul subsequently tried to frame his point, in typical antivaccine fashion, as a “health freedom” issue – what he opposes is really state- og government-mandated vaccines: “I think the parent should have some input. The state doesn’t own the children. Parents own the children.” Parents do not own their children. More recently, Paul has come out in support of conspiracy theorist and antivaxxer Michael Snyder’s run for Congress.
An opponent of rights to health care, Paul has stated that a right to health care equals slavery for health care workers, since you would in that case “have a right to come to my house and conscript me” and “have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you.” This is not how having a right to something works, but the description may be instructive when it comes to understanding how Paul conceives of e.g. constitutionally enshrined rights. He seems to have some serious difficulties with ownership-slavery relations, to the extent that normal people should be a bit concerned about putting him in any position of power.
As you’d expect Paul has also voiced support for a number of crank wingnut conspiracy theories related to the North American Union, such as the NAFTA Superhighway and the Amero. He has also toyed with religiously motivated historical revisionism, including claiming that the US is a Christian nation whose laws must be based on the Bible; in fact, we wouldn’t need laws if everyone were Christian, said Paul, which is demonstrably idiotic unless intended – we suspect it is – as a no-true-Scotsman gambit. Like David Barton’s books, Paul’s books are riddled with fake “quotes” by the founding fathers to support his agenda.
On climate change, Paul’s position is that “while I do think that man may have a role in our climate, I think nature also has a role,” which is such a feeble attempt at waffling that it justifies chalking him up as a denialist. In 2011, Paul chastised President Obama – not BP – for BP’s handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill; apparently Obama’s criticism was “anti-business” and “un-American”. Then he thought that people should stop playing the blame game because shit just happens.
There is a decent Rand Paul resource here.
Diagnosis: Conspiracy theorist and, more significantly, conspiracy theorist enabler. And Paul has a significant following (even though he seems to lack his father’s charisma) and as such quite a bit of power to realize the deranged aims of such conspiracy theorists. Extremely dangerous.