After finally getting a chance, over this past weekend, to listen to Senator Rand Paul’s entire epic 12+ hour filibuster, several things jumped out at me that haven’t been widely reported. So, I’d like to share my take with the readers of The Trenches and, hopefully, help to bring into focus the larger picture.
Why? Because, despite what all those who “doth protest too much” to the contrary would have you believe, Rand Paul is not his father, and his points did not just play to a tiny group of “Libertarian college kids”.
In a little over 12 hours, Rand Paul was able to do what the GOP at large and two Republican nominees for President have not been able to do in nearly 6 years: back Obama down and get him to admit defeat. This fact alone scares the hell out of the GOP establishment, and for a few reasons.
First, lifelong politicians being shown up by a freshman Senator inflicts a grievous wound on their fevered egos. In their minds, this affront by Rand Paul was far more damaging than winning a narrow victory over someone challenging them in a primary, because the latter is merely political. Rand damaged them philosophically.
Second, his principled stand had the effect of shining the harsh light of contrast onto the typical political theatrics, which never amount to more than the “sound and fury, signifying nothing”, that Americans are used to witnessing inside the 495 beltway. The average citizen, even one with only a vague interest in politics, could see the impact this one man had, and is beginning to wonder why the “leaders” in Congress can’t do something so simple. The filibuster has been at the GOP’s disposal for over 3 years, after all, so why couldn’t these wrinkled old white guys ever muster the virility to whip it out?
Third, the purveyors of global “Democracy Project” interventions, in both parties, realize their applecart has lost at least one wheel since last Wednesday. And Rand’s arguments, due mostly to the brilliant premise and presentation, have loosened the lugs on the three remaining wheels. Just how much depends on where he goes from here. Personally, I hope a few more join in, kicking the remaining wheels calmly, but firmly, until they fall off, as well.
And that leads us right into the final reason the beltway elites are terrified: the momentum now belongs to Rand, to harness as he sees fit.
Why does he have the momentum? For the same reason (whether you like the comparison or not) Ronald Reagan had momentum, and harnessed it to achieve back-to-back electoral landslides: principle.
You see, Rand Paul said during the filibuster (and his strength of conviction leads one to believe his words) that he would have been in the exact same spot, doing the exact same thing, if this drone question had come up during, and been so casually dismissed by, a Republican administration.
Further, it is evident, to anyone who watched and/or listened to his filibuster, that he would have stayed there just as long and made just as passionate a case, whether anyone had been shamed into joining him on the Senate floor or not.
The fact that some chose to join him further illustrates that they, and hordes of people on social media who spontaneously spawned the #StandWithRand hashtag, recognize a principled stand when they see one, and generally flock to the one making it. Lest I be accused of casting aspersions on those who joined, or throwing them under the bus as “unprincipled”, I’m not. But, given the previous actions of a few of them, it certainly appears their decision to join Rand was motivated by shame or posturing. Not all of them, but some.
This rush to join Reagan or Rand, among the masses, was not done out of loyalty to a personality and his or her perceived celebrity or “rock star” status, but out of a recognition that the principles espoused by that person are correct, and holding firm on them is paramount.
I have castigated the GOP “Big Tent”-ers for years, because they keep getting the analogy wrong. The conventional wisdom is that the fabric of this tent must be stretched and pulled and pried and strained to accommodate more people under its shelter. That notion is utter nonsense.
The “big tent” Reagan spoke of did not require planners, pullers, and builders. Why? Because the material of the tent, its very fabric, was supposed to be organic, made up of the very individuals who would flock to its central tent stake, provided that stake was firmly planted in principles.
This is a core tenet of our founding philosophy: the free will of individuals to choose Liberty or Tyranny, and live with the consequences of that decision.
Fortunately, as evidenced by Rand Paul’s filibuster and those who (however unlikely it may have seemed just a few months ago) came running to stand with him, large numbers of Americans get this point, if only on a subconscious level.
One final note that I should explain before closing: I mentioned earlier the “brilliant premise and presentation” of Rand’s filibuster, and this requires a bit of clarification.
The words themselves were not particularly erudite. As with any filibuster, there were a lot of points made that were simply restated in slightly different terms over the next several hours. But the presentation was, nevertheless, brilliant. And for two complementary reasons.
First, the fact that Rand’s source material and cited articles came, almost exclusively, from publications that are not typically associated with “right wing extremist” causes. Why is that? Because, in general, the “conservative new media” is far more consumed with inciting knee-jerk hyper-partisan reactionary uproar than they are with engaging their audiences on civil liberties, the Constitution, or (God forbid!) thoughtful dialog on First Principles and their application to modern society and culture.
The fact that Rand had to quote from articles by Glenn Greenwald, and writers at the HuffPo, The Atlantic, the L.A. Times, and Wired Magazine points out how completely “conservative” media has been subverted by neoconservative dogma.
What better proof of this could we find than the recent disinformation campaign waged against Chuck Hagel? Video snippets, taken completely out of context, and utterly false charges of “ties to Friends of Hamas”, which certain mainstream Hagel critics have yet to rescind or apologize for.
When narrative hysteria and agenda-driven smears take precedent over honest reporting of facts, and letting chips (or Chucks) fall where they may, how can we trust even the “new” media?
But Irving Kristol smiles at these practices, I’m sure. After all, his own definition of neoconservatism is as follows:
…the historical task and political purpose of neoconservativism would seem to be this: to convert the Republican Party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy.
Irving Kristol – 2003
Just as importantly, though, is another shocking fact Rand’s filibuster brought to the forefront: with the exception of the aforementioned writers he cited, David Swanson, and Code Pink, the once-vocal and militant “anti-war Left” has been deafening in their abject silence since about noon on January 20th of 2009.
This filibuster may serve to shame them into action yet again, which will ignite a powder-keg in the ranks of the Left. And, to be honest, it’s about damn time there was some principled debate within those circles.
Rand’s filibuster, then, has put him on a path, not unbeaten per se, but certainly overgrown from neglect. The neocons have effectively locked down substantive discussion of civil liberties on the right, while essentially claiming to be smarter than John Jay (Federalist 2-5), in the realm of foreign policy.
Likewise, the neoliberals have supplanted the minority civil libertarian faction within the ranks of the Left, and largely devolved to the Progressive-era foreign policy of Wilson and the Roosevelt boys.
This has left the (l)ibertarian/(f)ederalist contingent as the only consistent voice for Founding Principles with regard to personal Liberty and the rule of law. A fact that, since last Wednesday, has become much more clear, with Rand even citing candidate Obama’s position on FISA wiretaps and stating that he and Obama agreed on that issue at the time. But somebody moved.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I want to briefly presage the longer-term ramifications (or, perhaps, Randifications?) of this seismic event.
With thousands in the noecon-influenced echo chamber loudly proclaiming their support for the principles Rand laid out, even at the risk of being aligned with Code Pink on this one issue, we can begin exploring further common ground we may share with “the Left”. And, maybe, find a way to bridge other gaps, as well.
If we can find Code Pinks who agree with us on the 4th & 5th Amendments, then we can find Anons who agree with us on the 1st & 2nd Amendments. Then we might begin looking for more avenues.
Maybe some OWSers will agree with us that corporatism, mercantilism, and cronyism are not capitalism, and that the latter should be defended against the former. And, if we can do that, we can show them all that the main instigator, villain, and obstacle to those principles is large government, and that the 9th and 10th Amendments are pretty darn important to curbing that.
After all, if the Federal executive branch refuses to admit that they can’t arbitrarily take your very life, no limit to their powers is left.
And that, we should all be able to agree, is a dangerous scenario indeed.