The most precious commodity in politics today is clarity. The entire process is designed to confuse, obfuscate, or make things seem more complicated than they actually are. In February 2009, CNBC contributor Rick Santelli gave birth to a movement, not because of anything in particular he said, but rather because he gave voice to what millions of people were thinking in their hearts. It was an appeal to a basic principle. On Wednesday, KY Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is doing the same.
Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Paul invoked a time-honored Senate tradition and led a classic filibuster against John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA. As of this writing, he has commanded the floor in the Senate for 4 1/2 hours. Rand’s filibuster is not driven by a partisan disagreement over a nomination. It is driven by the historic role of the Congress in defended the Constitution against an Executive Branch that always looks to expand its authority.
John Brennan, as Deputy National Security Advisor, has pioneered the Obama Administration’s use of drone strikes and the development of a “kill list.” Under Brennan’s protocols, the US President has the authority to order the assassination of those, including US citizens, suspected of terrorist activities. The President is prosecutor, judge, jury and, ultimately, executioner of those suspected of plotting against the United States. The President may have made every correct decision about drone strikes, to date, but Sen. Paul is right to ask; What are the checks on this power?
This is a fundamental constitutional question. We lose freedom by allowing small incremental moves that cede greater power to government. Few people will see, or even know about, Sen. Paul’s filibuster. It should be required viewing for all Americans.
Three years ago, Rick Santelli gave voice to millions of Americans who opposed bailing out people for their own irresponsible choices. On Wednesday, Sen. Paul gave voice to those of us who fear we’ve already ceded too much of our liberty to government.
Clarity. It is our path home.