People who follow me on Twitter know that I criticize Rand Paul. I do this not because I think he should be a clone of his father, and that he’s somehow “betrayed” Ron Paul’s followers. On the contrary, as I’ve noted before, I think Rand has always been quite up front about his non-libertarian views. I don’t think he’s attempted to deceive anyone on this.
My primary motivation in criticizing Rand is to illustrate the reality of his positions to many of his followers who seem to think that the libertarian movement should view Rand Paul as the next Ron Paul. They should not, regardless of the last name of the Senator from Kentucky, because Rand Paul is not, in my view, enough of a consistent defender of liberty. Nor is he enough of a known commodity to warrant all of the uncritical and blind support I see coming out of the so-called, and oxymoronically named, “libertarian conservatives.”
However, I have to give credit where it’s due, and Rand Paul’s filibuster today is good for at least two reasons.
First of all, it’s good because it’s a filibuster. The claim that the US Senate is “the world’s greatest deliberative body” has long been laughable. The Senate mostly rubber-stamps the edicts of the president when he’s in the same party as the Senate majority. Even when the majority is in a different party than the president, rarely is anything more than token resistence offered to the president’s appointments and treaties. This is made obvious by the fact that filibusters are so incredibly rare as are any actual rejections of the president’s nominees. The Senate was created as a check on both the foreign and domestic policy of the president, yet, we see virtually no such thing ever out of the Senate.
The fact that Senator Paul is willing to stop the government in its tracks for a few hours with a filibuster is a credit to him and probably stems from a decent understanding of what the Senate is supposed to do. Not only is the filibuster a good thing because it can obstruct the will of both senators and presidents, but it is also good because it serves to empower minority rights over the majority. This speech by the late Senator Robert Byrd, delivered back when it was the GOP that was trying to kill the filibuster, explains how the filibuster stands as a bulwark against the tyranny of the majority and outlines many of the filibuster’s virtues.
Secondly, this particular filibuster is good because it has been specifically used to oppose and discredit one of the worst abuses of the presidency in many years. And that’s saying a lot, since the history of the presidency is primarily a history of usurpation. If presidents can claim the right to kill anyone they want at any time, as the current president has indeed done, then we have entered the final phase of complete lawlessness. I think Rand Paul is sincere in his opposition to this, and the fact that he is laboring nearly alone in his efforts to discredit this practice illustrates just how utterly useless and immoral the US Senate actually is. (I should note by the way, that I do not think the opposition to drone killings offered today by Sens. Rubio and Cruz is sincere.)
Moreover, Paul’s filibuster is simply an embarrassment to the regime which counts on -and gets!- nearly unanimous and bipartisan support of all its most horrible abuses from TARP to NDAA.
I’m glad that Rand Paul has finally found the issue that he is willing to go to the mat over. For all his inconsistencies and caving to the neocons on Iran and other issues, he’s still apparently one of only a tiny handful of politicians in Washington who is willing to say much at all about the final destruction of the Bill of Rights. While Paul may be conventional on many issues, his peculiarity and commitment on this issue is laudable. And, the fact that he stands nearly alone should frighten anyone who is still uninformed enough to think there is a functioning system of checks and balances in Washington. Paul’s stand should also serve as a source of everlasting shame to the so-called Progressives who obviously care not one iota for human rights, democracy or decent government at all, as long as one of their own is the current elected dictator.10:22 pm on March 6, 2013 Email Ryan McMaken