Primary

Rand Paul’s Brief Flicker of Liberty Shows the Power of Principle

“That Americans could be killed in a café in San Francisco or in a restaurant in Houston or at their home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an abomination. It is something that should not and cannot be tolerated in our country. I don’t rise to oppose John Brennan’s nomination simply for the person. I rise today for the principle.” — U.S. Senator Rand Paul

What’s interesting, and sadly unusual, about U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s victory over Obama on the issue of military drones is: His insistence on arguing from principle.

This attention to fundamental principle is not something we saw at the time Obamacare passed and — much worse — when ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court. We also don’t see it on the issue of raising taxes disproportionately on wealth creators, restricting the right to gun ownership, or just about anything else on the contemporary political scene.

In arguing against the use of drones on American civilians, Senator Paul made an argument from principle. In essence, the principle amounted to: “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder — not known for upholding any principles, other than the wrong kind — was forced to submit and answer, “No,” following a filibuster orchestrated by Senator Paul in the U.S. Senate.

The more basic principle at stake in this issue is: Does the American government have the right to do anything it wants, anything it sees fit, in the name of “the national interest?” They certainly do — according to most — when it comes to health care. Or guns. Or wealth redistribution. Or financial lending. Or sacrificing the currency to the unending debt. So why not drones, too?

What’s most relevant here is not the issue of drones themselves, since — in principle — there’s certainly nothing wrong with the government of a free nation utilizing every technology available to protect the freedom of individuals in that nation. What’s important here is that Paul’s argument reasserted the principle of individual rights, especially when that issue has gone by the wayside in every arena, including (most recently) the right to self-defense.

Unfortunately, none of this changes the fact that, particularly under the Obama Administration, the trend in the USA is completely away from individual rights. As Senator Paul well knows, the government is inflating our politicized currency, running up inconceivable debt, nationalizing medicine as well as the financial industries (subjecting both to arbitrary political pull), and further eroding the individual’s right to self-defense through owning a gun. Rarely has the U.S. Constitution taken the beating it has in the last 5-10 years under George W. Bush and Barack Obama (arguably two of the worst presidents ever).

Nevertheless, there’s no denying that such a victory, however temporary or meaningless in the larger picture, is a beautiful ray of light in the midst of an otherwise darkening sky. It’s nice to have a moment, if only a brief moment, where a “liberty warrior” can seize the agenda. Still, liberty is not causeless. For liberty to win, you must first have a nation of people deeply committed to individual rights and—their only possible basis—the rationality of man. Rand Paul cannot change that trend, not from the Congress (nor from the White House, if he were there). A true revolution, and we do need one, can only arise from the hearts and the minds of the people–schooled by intellectuals and leaders who actually grasp what freedom is, and what it requires.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee reportedly used Paul’s filibuster to raise about $75,000 for GOP candidates. Now that’s ironic. Most of the Republicans, such as that political reptile John McCain, don’t even agree with Senator Paul and would never support him on issues of more important principle, such as health care, taxes or the national debt.

Senator Paul is not always right, either. For example, he supported Obama’s dreadful nominee for Defense Secretary, a man who doesn’t even appear to view Iran (or, more broadly, militant Islam) as an enemy. Those on the “libertarian” side of things tend to forget that without a strong defense to protect the interests of a nation committed to individual rights, those rights will all go by the wayside. Put simply, it doesn’t matter how much economic or individual freedoms we enjoy if outside aggressors are permitted to destroy our nation’s security.

Perhaps my favorite line of Senator Paul’s from his filibuster: “I will speak until I can no longer speak.”

Paul was presumably referring to the time period of his filibuster. Yet if individual rights are not upheld, the very last and most important one remaining to us will be wiped out by the parasites who for the most part now rule us from Washington DC: the right to freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech is the most important right of all. Without it, there’s no freedom of thought, including no freedom to change the insane policies enveloping us. True dictators know that, which is why they eventually go after freedom of speech, especially as the failures of their economic policies become obvious.

It’s little wonder we have to worry about the American government going after innocent citizens with drone technology. Given all the rights those citizens have happily voted away, is it any wonder the government now thinks it can pretty much do whatever it wants to us?

Principle is such a powerful thing; people have no idea. Whatever you think of Rand Paul’s stance on drones, he brought down even the “mighty” and hopelessly arrogant Obama, if only for a brief moment. That’s because Obama, just like all the others, is a hollowed out shell of a man and in truth has nothing authentic to offer.

If Rand Paul can cause Obama to wilt so quickly, just imagine what a consistent and unyielding stand on principle might do.

  • mkkevitt

    But, as you indicate, a consistent & unyielding stand on principle coming from true politicians instead of excuses made by the usual crooks must originate from the masses of the people in order to make the criminal hordes, from the President on down, wilt & cave in, give up & lose elections and get outa the way for keeps. What do you think the chance of that happening are? Mike Kevitt

  • Mo

    Craig Biddle answers that question in his Trinity of Liberty lecture Q&A, fyi. Things are looking up culture-wise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005055009423 Facebook User

    There needs to be a critical mass of people devoted to principles and reason in education and in politics like the Pauls (Rand and Ron) to get the USA back onto a sound footing.

    I wonder if and when Jamaica (my home country) will get even one person in a seat in our parliament to talk like them.

  • Dale Holmgren

    I disagree with the writer’s contention that libertarians “tend to forget” that a strong national defense is necessary to liberty; there is no evidence of that. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that indicates that some conservatives tend to construe “defense” as parking a military base in over 100 countries. We have never invited another country to park their military over here and we never will, because we quite rightly view that as an aggressive posture, not a defensive posture.