As the 2016 presidential race starts to slowly take shape, one of the background questions has focused on Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). The question isn't whether he intends to run -- it seems pretty obvious that he will kick off a campaign -- but whether the Republican senator will temper some of his more eccentric instincts.
Paul, by any fair measure, is one of the most prominent conspiracy theorists in American politics. I've generally assumed, however, that he'll tone down his more colorful views in order to appear more like a mainstream candidate and less like a fringe ally of Glenn Beck and Alex Jones (which the senator is).
It was of interest, then, to see Paul express support yesterday for dissolving the United Nations.
Rand Paul is not a fan of the United Nations, and on a campaign-style swing through New Hampshire on Wednesday, the likely Republican presidential hopeful said that he would support dissolving the international governing body entirely. Speaking to a room full of gun rights advocates at the Londonderry Fish & Game Club, Paul said that while the concept of having a multinational body to "discuss diplomacy" isn't necessarily a bad one, he objects to the current structure, in which the United States has to foot "a huge chunk" of the U.N.'s bill.
"I dislike paying for something that two-bit Third World countries with no freedom attack us and complain about the United States," Paul said, according to the Real Clear Politics report. "There's a lot of reasons why I don't like the U.N., and I think I'd be happy to dissolve it."
To be sure, this doesn't come as too big a surprise. The United Nations is a popular foil for conspiracy theorists, and Rand Paul in particular has made some truly bizarre allegations about the world body in recent years.
In 2013, for example, the GOP senator wrote a letter on behalf of a radical gun group in which Paul argued that the United Nations intends to "force" the United States to "CONFISCATE and DESTROY ALL 'unauthorized' civilian firearms," while creating "an INTERNATIONAL gun registry, setting the stage for full-scale gun CONFISCATION."
The capitalized words originally appeared in Paul's 2013 ridiculous letter; I didn't capitalize them for emphasis.
And so, given the senator's often strange worldview, of course he'd be "happy to dissolve" the U.N. What I'm curious about, though, is whether Paul's ... how do I put this gently ... more peculiar beliefs may influence the 2016 race.
Remember, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Fla.) also has some strange concerns about the U.N., while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has raised concerns about a possible U.N. "takeover" of the Internet.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) isn't running for president, but her support will be sought out by every candidate competing in the Iowa caucuses, and she's arguably the only statewide politician whose conspiracy nuttiness rivals that of Rand Paul. Indeed, Ernst has warned Americans that the United Nations may try to force farmers from their lands and dictate which cities we're allowed to live in.
As silly as this may sound, it's possible the existence of the U.N. may be an issue in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries.