Rand Paul announced his candidacy for president today, and with him — at least in spirit — was a man many people in Paul's party consider a traitor: Edward Snowden. Paul and others in Congress with similar libertarian sympathies have been railing against the NSA for a while, but it's pretty remarkable to see a presidential campaign from a major candidate begin with a nod to the information that Snowden provided to the public about the US government's massive surveillance programs.
Echoing comments he made at CPAC 2015, Paul said today during his announcement that "phone records of law abiding citizens are none of [the government's] damn business." He also pledged that "as president, on day one, I will immediately end this unconstitutional surveillance."
"On day one I will immediately end this unconstitutional surveillance."
Paul is definitely one of the most controversial candidates now in the running because of how much he strays from the mainstream consensus of both Republicans and Democrats. Paul would, for instance, slash the budget of the National Parks by 30 percent and sell some of them off to the highest bidder. Those kind of radical policies probably won't win him much favor with millennials, but he's definitely ahead of the current presidential pack on civil liberties issues. He might not win the chair or even his party's nomination, but the least we can expect is for Paul to hold his opponents to the fire on issues like warrantless spying that they might otherwise prefer to ignore.