No, Rand Paul, The GOP Is No Captain Kirk: Why The Senator Got 'Star Trek' All Wrong

Sen. Rand Paul has a message for his colleagues: To really get in the game, the GOP should be like Captain Kirk. The Kentucky Republican referenced the Star Trek character while appearing on Fox News, urging the example of the Enterprise's iconic leader as a symbol for how the GOP should be outreaching to to new, broader demographics in typically liberal areas:."Sort of like what Captain Kirk used to say, we need to boldly go where no Republicans have gone before." He added: "So we need to go to Harlem, East L.A., Berkeley, maybe even Hollywood, though that may be dangerous."

I can't and won't pretend to be a Star Trek expert, but there are a few obvious issues with Paul's point of comparison. First and foremost, known to anyone with a passing knowledge of the multi-racial, profoundly anti-racist original series of the 60s and 70s, is that the political and cultural perspectives of Kirk and his crew are in no way similar to those in modern, mainstream Republicanism — either on tolerance within their own ranks, or the diplomatic outreaches they make to outsiders. Nor, frankly, are they much like the ideals of Rand Paul himself.

Indeed, while different iterations of Star Trek have at times tackled issues of racism and "otherness" through the prism of their characters, the inclusionary, decidedly left-wing narrative thrust of the show, as originated by creator Gene Roddenbury, is very clear. One famous example — the 1968 episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," which overtly challenged the intellectual inanity of racism. Considering how tense things can get in inter-conservative groups when the time comes to challenge racism, or even politely discuss it, this may be a spot for improvement.

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Beyond the telling awkwardness of comparing a space traveller landing on an alien world to a Republican going to Harlem, there are positions in Paul's own ideology that look drastically strange under the progressive light of the Star Trek universe.

Perhaps the foremost example: Rand Paul once voiced (and has since tried to disown) doubts about the 1968 Civil Rights Act, because he thinks forcing businesses to serve black patrons is an infringement of personal property rights. He's since tried to deny this — but look, here he is, doing it.

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Nobody on the Enterprise ever raised an issue with Uhura's presence, but if they did, it's a safe bet that say Starfleet wouldn't have ceded to such racism.

Basically, if Paul would seriously like the Republican Party to adopt the mantle of Captain Kirk and his indefatigable crew, well, they'd have a long way to go. As, for that matter, he would himself.