Most of the time, what is done in politics is seen as ineffective, useless, boring or even destructive, amongst many other things. But ever so rarely, there is a pleasant surprise that reminds even people like me, who see America in an identity crisis, that there are still remnants of patriotism willing to spring forth and not back down.
Recently, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky filibustered the U.S. Senate for 13 hours, over the nomination of John Brennan as C.I.A. director after he received a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder refusing to rule out the use of drone strikes against U.S. citizens and after he asked the President if he could kill an American on American soil, to which the President responded that he hasn’t killed anyone yet. This set Senator Paul off.
Paul had this to say: “I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the C.I.A. . . .I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”
Senator Paul has been able to get Republicans and Democrats to reconsider the nomination. He’s also made it so that some want there to be debates on the nomination as well. To top it all off, the White House issued a statement saying that no, the President does not have the authority to kill U.S. citizen not engaged in combat on American soil with a weaponized drone.
While the answer is a bit specific (U.S. citizen not engaged in combat), it is surprising that there was an answer given to this effect.
It’s not often that limitations of power are admitted by those holding it.
Senator Paul also gained more recognition for staging a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”-style filibuster, meaning he talked the whole time and apparently stayed on topic as well, receiving questions from fellow Republicans.
It’s not often when there’s a satisfactory political move, but this certainly was one. Some may say it was only a small thing, which I don’t think it is; I think it’s the start of bolder patriotism, being pragmatic and upholding the importance of following the Constitution and the idea that our leaders are bound by it and are not above the law.
What Senator Paul did is important because it shows that our system isn’t completely broken yet and that there are still some angles the politicians haven’t figured out, because they just can’t, at least for now.
I think Senator Paul showed that the American spirit isn’t dead, just mostly dead. While what he did is highly inspirational, we are still confused as to who we are as a people and have much work to do. I’m hoping that such inspiration will cause others to realize the importance of a nation that has such potential and how important it is to hold the government to the law that is supposed to bind it.