With eyes on 2016, one prominent Republican spent two days wooing technology advocates and entrepreneurs in one of the country's most liberal cities.
Rand Paul, widely presumed to be gearing up for the 2016 presidential race, held two days' worth of private meetings and public stumps in San Francisco -- not traditionally conservative-friendly territory -- to discuss privacy concerns, innovation and government involvement in business.
These are the topics, the Kentucky senator told TheBlaze, that could create a few bridges between some members of sparring political parties.
“Most of the people I meet out here say … ‘the government has gone too far, we need to protect the Fourth Amendment, a warrant should have a person’s name on it, it shouldn’t be non-specific or cover millions of people,” he said.
“I think after eight years of President Obama they’re also frustrated that the big government regulations and taxes hasn’t necessarily been good for Silicon Valley,” Paul said.
The central event in Paul’s weekend was a keynote speech at the Lincoln Labs conference, a primarily conservative-backed technology summit. He said a multiplying breed of constituents dubbed "conservatarians" — found in pockets of the country like Silicon Valley and at similar tech conferences around the country — will likely have a big impact on the way partisan politics take shape over the coming years.
“It isn’t that somehow Silicon Valley has gone from candlestick makers to lightbulb makers, you’ve created de novo – something that didn’t exist,” he said, using the Latin for “from the new.”
Paul spoke to conference attendees during an individual speech and then on a panel of technology entrepreneurs, touching on a wide variety of likely presidential debate topics, with the exception of immigration. On education, the freshman senator said a rebellion could be on the horizon.
“What’s going to happen, whether the government likes it or not, is there’s going to be a revolution,” Paul said, describing what thinks the future classroom will look like as enhanced by better organization and technological advances. His ideal: imagine the LeBron James of math or science leading an online tutorial –- in the vein of Khan academy-style video instruction -- and then on-site teachers guiding students through their practical work.
“There is already a revolution brewing, but I think we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Oh, and Paul's lawsuit against the NSA? It's still happening; Paul told several conference attendees he is pursuing the case against the government agency on the grounds that it illegally spied on American citizens.
Sen. Rand Paul recently made headlines for his clash of policy with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, but Paul says the party should grow to include groups it hasn't reached out to as of yet. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)
When Paul’s conference tech panel was asked to pontificate on "where has our freedom gone, and where will it go?", the senator closed with thoughts on how to grow business.
“One of the things that does annoy me ... is when people who are successful don't appreciate how they got there, you meet a guy who is very rich but hates capitalism," he said, "well, how are you going to tell the next guy you want to destroy the system that gave you that opportunity?"
"It's the same with the Internet," Paul said. "Does the government have something to do with it? Sure, much like they built some of the roads I came here on today. But the government didn't make you good at coding, calculus or math; the roads didn't do that. I'm not against the government being involved, but if mistakenly think the roads cause genius, we're really screwed up."
When polled whether they thought Paul should “take on this fight and make this for president,” the Silicon Valley crowd erupted in applause.
Check out TheBlaze's exclusive interview with Paul, in which he explained a growing number of Americans' "leave me alone" attitude toward the government:
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