To be fair, Sen. Paul has come down on the correct side on several issues. I’m glad that he’s been willing to work with Democrats on legislation like the REDEEM Act, reinstatement of voting rights and mandatory-minimum-sentencing reform. But the fact that he has been unable to corral any significant support from his Republican colleagues for these bills speaks more to his party and his leadership abilities than his willingness to take bold stances. These issues are low-hanging fruit if the GOP wants to make inroads with the African-American community.

Doing the bare minimum, though, doesn’t make you a hero; and it doesn’t make up for rejecting countless other policies that would help. And this is barely the bare minimum. Nor do you get much credit just for showing up.

Sen. Paul’s willingness to speak to African-American audiences is certainly a better alternative than what most of his Republican colleagues are (or aren’t) doing. But talking to a community is not the same as speaking for a community.