If you're interested in knowing which scepters of power the Warfare State is most unwilling to relinquish, try wrenching a few from its grasp. The volume of the cacophony will let you know just how grievously the beast in DC has been wounded. And it's never roared as loudly as it did at midnight on Sunday, when Rand Paul forced the expiration of the NSA's domestic surveillance program. ABC News reports:
Three key provisions of the Patriot Act expired at midnight – Section 215, which authorizes the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' phone records; a roving wiretap provision that allows law enforcement officials to monitor terror suspects that use multiple phones; and a program that officials can use to monitor "lone wolf" terror suspects, not connected to any known terrorist organizations.
Virtually the entire Washington DC Establishment dogpiled Rand for his stand, outraged that anyone should shield American citizens from a Leviathan State that is accustomed to getting what it wants from its senators. To have its sustenance denied sends it into a rage. Sustenance, that is, in the form of slaughtered liberty. And Rand Paul's peers in Congress are behaving predictably like the spoiled toddlers they are when their toys are taken away.
This piece from Politico illustrates the attitude Rand's fellow senators have toward a scaling back of any government power whatsoever. John McCain had this to say about Rand's filibustering: "I know what this is about – I think it's very clear – this is, to some degree, a fundraising exercise… He obviously has a higher priority for his fundraising and political ambitions than for the security of the nation."
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch couldn't help but engage in a bit of red-baiting when discussing Rand's actions: "I think he's nestled in with a very large bunch of very radical people – from the left to the right… I don't know if he feels comfortable being with all those leftists who hate the PATRIOT Act. But he has a right to do what he's doing."
The article goes on to state: "The stinging personal criticism of Paul showed just how unpopular the Kentucky Republican's demands to kill the surveillance law is among party elders – and portended how this battle is likely to continue to hover over his presidential campaign, for better or worse."
Liberty is only theoretical to our political class. It sounds good. It flatters us to hear talk of liberty waft to us from the heights of the Imperial Capitol, but when something concrete is done to advance liberty, they close ranks and attack. The political class benefits from the decay of liberty, not its growth.
This editorial from the Daily Caller, entitled "The Fall of Rand Paul?" makes a feeble case that Rand might have ruined his presidential prospects by standing for principle rather than adhering to non-specific wishy-washiness that is typical of presidential contenders. The article goes on to state:
Paul's attempt to go mainstream may have worked for a time, but it is much harder task for the instinctually non-interventionist Kentucky senator to pull off when threats to American security dominate news cycles. Seeming more concerned with the threat of bulk metadata collection by the government is unlikely to win over many primary voters.
Contrary to what the author says, Paul's attempt to "go mainstream" was the very thing that turned many off to his presidency. It was depressing to witness the Son of Ron attempt to cater to the more mainstream Republicans, but with his heroic actions on Sunday night, the real Rand came roaring back. Whether his victory will last, though, is debatable. A vote on the US Freedom Act, in effect a repackaged and expanded Patriot Act, will be had this week. Cut off a head of the Hydra and two grow in its place. But regardless of how long it lasts, watching the entire DC Establishment squirm is too good to miss. Expanding power has been too easy for them for far too long.
The Warfare State's reaction to Rand's stand on Sunday displays clearly what we're up against when attempting to bring any semblance of limitations on the power of our government. When confronted with principle, or the ideas of liberty and privacy, it screeches and screams, and utilizes every weapon in its arsenal to repel the threat. A free society is a threat to the health of the State, and something to be feared by it. The State builds its power upon our own fear, fear of "terrorism," fear of any and every enemy of convenience that it can effectively make use of. Every base emotion is appealed to when agitating for expanded power – more power is needed to "keep us safe," etc. It hijacks the natural patriotism of the people and twists that love of country into support for the expansion of the State.
A government that recognizes no limits on power will do anything to eliminate a threat to that power. A government that scoffs at the liberty of its citizens is a tyranny, elected or otherwise. Like the Terminator, or the Blob, it can't be reasoned with or bargained with or reformed, and it won't stop. Its death is the only path to liberty and peace.
Rather than attempting to manipulate the emotions of the public to cajole us into abandoning piecemeal our heritage of liberty, Rand Paul is attempting to appeal to our reason, the way his father did. They implore us to ignore the appeals to emotionalism and plastic patriotism the War Machine in DC uses to get another bombing campaign, healthcare bill, surveillance bill, tax hike, etc. Our liberty is too important to sacrifice to the bogeymen of the moment.
The lesson to be learned from Rand's stand is this: Every person who denounced Rand's actions is an enemy of liberty and should not be trusted with political power.
Shane Smith is an accountant living in Norman, Oklahoma. He writes for Red Dirt Report. Liberty is his religion.