NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 16, 2013

Could Rand Paul spark an American Spring?

Barbara Anderson
Newburyport Daily News

---- — We know about “the Arab Spring,” when people in some North Africa and Mideast countries had revolutions against unpopular governments.

Granting that some of those revolutions aren’t going well and our government is only annoyingly unpopular so far, I’m climbing way out on a limb that is covered with little buds to predict that the American Spring is coming!

It began with media icon Bob Woodward calling out the Obama administration for refusing to admit the sequester was its idea, and was picked up last week by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul calling out the Obama administration for not making clear that it won’t use drones to kill Americans on American soil.

As the Senate prepared to vote on the appointment of President Obama’s choice for CIA director, candidate John Brennan’s response to the Senate Intelligence Committee last month about drones seemed vague. Attorney General Eric Holder, asked to clarify, sent a letter stating that the U.S. government “has no intention” of carrying out drone strikes in the U.S. However, “It is possible ... to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.” Holder went on to say he would “examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the president on the scope of his authority.”

Whoa there! The correct answer is, the Constitution doesn’t give the president the authority to use military force against American citizens on American soil unless there is “imminent (i.e., immediate) threat.” Otherwise, it requires due process.

Just before noon last Wednesday, Paul took to the Senate floor in a rare standing filibuster, which turned into the ninth longest in American history.

Chip called that evening to tell me to turn on C-SPAN, and we watched spellbound as Paul, aided by questions from other tea party senators, then other more traditional Republican senators, talked about the Constitution and rule of law until after midnight.

Meanwhile across America, others were getting phone calls, Facebook messages and tweets telling them to turn on C-SPAN. As the American spring began springing, Holder sent a more definitive response: “Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil? The answer to that question is no.” Well, fine; why didn’t you say that in the first place?

Now look at this description of the filibuster by a young woman blogger pen-named Alexandria Hamilton:

“Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky who instigated the filibuster, came off as young (for an experienced politician), vibrant, intelligent, passionate, articulate. All the things America’s younger voters supposedly want from a politician. Joining him was a throng of similarly young and passionate Republicans, including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. These men used constitutional law, along with quotes from Jay-Z, ‘The Godfather,’ Shakespeare’s ‘Henry V,’ Reagan and Twitter to stand their ground, defying authority. I’ll repeat that: The filibuster was a defiance of executive authority.

“This was a defining moment in America. It was exciting. It was new. It was, dare I say, cool. Last night, C-SPAN was without a doubt the best thing on television. Here was the next generation of great political leaders standing up for the civil rights of every American citizen. I certainly cannot imagine anyone with any sort of independent, young, rebellious mind to not want to join in.”

Let’s hear it for independent, young, rebellious minds who may be about to join us older taxpayer activists/deficit hawks/tea partiers to take our country back from the Obama administration.

The filibuster was almost universally applauded, from the left and the right, with the notable exception of The Wall Street Journal. Made me think that, after drone attacks, the next piece of common ground between liberty Republicans like Paul and young independents might be some aspects of Wall Street, a connection with the various Occupy movements.

Many young people are already on board with Sen. Paul’s father, Congressman Ron Paul, and his desire to audit the Federal Reserve Bank while leaning on Big Banks to control the excesses that helped lead to the fiscal crisis in 2008. Let’s all sit down together, and we can discuss Barney Frank and Fannie Mae, too.

Then let’s revolt against the $85 trillion of national debt and unfunded liabilities that young people should be most concerned about, since they’re the ones who carry most of that burden.

Let liberty Republicans lead, and other Republicans join them, moving away from the social issues that divide traditionalists from the young voters who see gay marriage and legal abortion as settled political questions. Illegal immigration will remain a difficult issue, as will environmental concerns. But with enough in common on fiscal and military issues, there is hope that the Republican Party’s old and young libertarians can mount an effective future against the statist Democrats.

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Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation.