Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul swung back at critics within his own caucus in a Wednesday morning op-ed, saying his fight via old-fashioned filibuster is one the American people wanted.
“Last week, a Senate colleague of mine said that when I questioned whether or not the President could order a drone strike on American citizens on American soil, that I was just catering to ‘libertarian kids in their dorm rooms,’” Paul wrote in the Wednesday op-ed, published on PolicyMic. “Standing up for the Bill of Rights and the Fifth Amendment was not a political stunt designed to appeal to certain audiences. I took an oath to protect the Constitution and it is an oath I intend to keep.”
Ultimately, Paul won his filibuster battle because Attorney General Eric Holder admitted in writing that the president does not have the power to use drones to kill American citizens on American soil in the absence of an immediate threat.
In the lead-up to the fight, Paul and his allies like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Utah Sen. Mike Lee learned they had massive public support on their side. Nothing demonstrated that populist support better than Cruz reading tweets into the Congressional Record on the Senate floor while giving Paul a break.
The Paul fight against establishment Republicans like McCain and Graham is representative of a much larger fight that is happening in the GOP. Younger and more conservative members are pushing for a more populist theme within the Republican Party, whereas more veteran Republicans are angling for what they consider a more measured GOP.
Paul’s obvious choice to side with the populists was on display in his PolicyMic op-ed, which is part of the publication’s pre-CPAC coverage focused on millenials and the future of the GOP. “I believe a Republican Party that is more tolerant and dedicated to keeping the government out of people’s lives as much as possible would be more appealing to the rising generation,” Paul wrote. “Most young people I encounter simply have no desire to tell other people what to do or how to live.”
“Young Americans — conservative, libertarian, independent — are as fed up with big government as their parents and grandparents,” Paul added. “A Republican Party willing to address their unique concerns could build a new majority that might finally turn this country around.”