Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rand Paul's "Mr. Smith" Moment

Unless you've been hiding under a rock that last few days, you know that the biggest story in politics this week has been the nearly 13 hour filibuster by the junior senator of Kentucky, Rand Paul. The purpose of Senator Paul's filibuster was the issue of how the US government can and could use so-called "drone", including potentially using them against US citizens. While that issue is certainly an important one, not to mention terribly complicated, it's the aftermath of this filibuster that interests me more.

For a little while now, I have been calling for some "political chaos" in America since the current "status quo" in D.C. is only getting worse everyday and some chaos couldn't possibly be any worse than the crap we see coming out of of late. So imagine my surprise on Wednesday when I check the news sites and find that the good senator from Kentucky has staged a twelve plus hour, old-fashioned filibuster (aka the kind made famous in the epic film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington). Now in the past, Senator Paul has made a habit of not exactly holding the party-line and wandering a bit into left field (likely a family trait) on certain issues, but rarely has this talk every amounted to much. His actions Wednesday night however have changed all that. If folks in Washington (especially the current occupant of the White House) weren't talking Senator Paul serious before, they most certainly are now.

Now you may be asking yourself, how could such an old-fashion political tactic like the filibuster be the kind of political chaos I have been calling for as of late? Well, a good test of whether the actions of a politician are properly chaotic, you have to look at the response to his actions. So what kind of response did Senator Paul get? Well here are a few prominent quotes in response:

Senator John McCain: "If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids." (1)

Wall Street Journal editorial: ""If only his reasoning matched the showmanship"; "He's apparently serious, though his argument isn't"; "He needs to know what he's talking about." (1)

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell: "stark raving mad," classifying his filibuster as "infantile" and "empty-headed." (2)

Daily Show's Jon Stewart: “[I] can’t say I agree with Rand Paul about everything,” Stewart added. “But as issues go, drone oversight is one certainly worth kicking up a fuss for.” (3)

ACLU's Christopher Anders: "It’s certainly a courageous and historic effort by Senator Rand Paul and his colleagues, who are now increasing in numbers and coming to the fore in support of his filibuster,” (4)

Charles Krauthammer: "Stroke of political genius. He will be remembered. This raises his image and he's completely sincere about this. I think I think he will be – This will be a moment that people say launched him as a national figure." (5)

Now to sum that up, more "traditional" Republicans (aka, cranky old farts) and hardcore supporters of President Obama were irritated by Paul's filibuster while "proper" conservatives and some far-lefties supported his move. The phrase "strange bedfellows" hardly seems to cover this rather unusually support group for Senator Paul.

And that ladies and gentlemen, is the real point for me. This move of Paul's was so out there compared to the political norm that it caused a rather unpredictable reaction from the entire American political spectrum. That is exactly the kind of political chaos I have been hoping for as of late and I hope this filibuster wasn't just a one-time event and will be the start of things to come from Senator Paul. Further, I hope this bold move will inspire some of his fellow senators to cause a little bit of chaos of their own.

So my hat's off to you Senator Paul. While I may not necessarily agree with your stance on drones (that's a conversation for another time), I do applaud your use of a good old-fashioned filibuster and the chaos it wreaked in Washington for the last few days. Keep up the chaos Mr. Senator!


Any opinions and/or views expressed in the above piece are purely those of the author and not of any political or non-political organization(s). Any re-posting of this work MUST include this disclaimer.

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