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Thank you, Rand Paul: His “Liberty torch” began to transform the GOP

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., waits for an interview during a campaign event at the University of Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., waits for an interview during a campaign event at the University of Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Although not as successful, Rand Paul continued a legacy begun by his father, Ron Paul, by becoming a voice for the GOP’s libertarian-leaning voters — many of whom are young voters. While the suspension of his presidential campaign is a disappointment to many, his “Liberty torch” helped illuminate the pathway to what could be the future of the Republican Party.

“We hoped [this election] would be about ideas. We wanted to champion small government,” wrote one supporter on Facebook after this morning’s announcement. “It’s a shame we let such a great candidate exit so dismally soon before the Fiorinas and the Santorums. Rand Paul talked the talk and walked the walk when it came to liberty.”

Paul’s campaign was a unique alternative to the usual faces and policies of the Republican establishment candidates, and resonated with the fiscally-conservative, socially-modern GOP youth. He was the only person on the debate stages who spoke about reducing federal spending across the board, who called for criminal justice reform and an end to marijuana prohibition, who was anti-war and anti-NSA spying, and who was a true conservative when it came to individual liberties and reducing the size of the federal government by giving more power back to the states and to the people.

The fact that he was a millennial favorite in the race is an indication that the future of our Party might be shifting away from ‘Bushism’ or ‘the establishment,’ and heading towards a more libertarian platform.

“Nearly a decade after I joined this movement, I detect a strong generational shift,” wrote Corie W. Stephens in an article for Rare. “The young Republicans I know are much friendlier to liberty than in older generations,” she said. “The ideas of liberty are far more mainstream in both politics and public life than they were when I entered my twenties…”

If the liberty movement does continue to transform the ideals and policies within the GOP itself, it could lead to the rise of candidates like Paul in years to come — and to an eventual change in the Republican brand.

“Across the country thousands upon thousands of young people flocked to our message of limited government, privacy, criminal justice reform, and a reasonable foreign policy,” Paul wrote in an email to supporters announcing his campaign suspension. “Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.”