STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Why Rand Paul Is in Position to Become DC's Most Powerful Pol
By Staff News & Analysis - March 12, 2013

House Democrats demand Obama release 'full legal basis' for drone strikes … In a letter sent Monday, Lee said a leaked Department of Justice memo showed an "increasing devolution of accountability, transparency, and Constitutional protections in U.S. counterterrorism operations." The 16-page memo provided an outline of the Obama's administration legal justification of targeted drone strikes against U.S. citizens. – Raw Story

Dominant Social Theme: Rand Paul, a nutter, represents the loony right of Teabaggery. Who would listen to him?

Free-Market Analysis: One of our main points throughout the life of this Website has been that the Internet itself is increasingly creating fungible coalitions of those who believe in freedom and free markets on both sides of the political spectrum.

This seemed to us to be especially possible in the US where there are libertarian-oriented Democrats as well as Republicans. In the case of Rand Paul's recent filibuster on drone strikes in the US, we find an issue that is galvanizing both sides of the aisle.

It is a national security issue rather than a free-market one but nonetheless, it shows the evolution of US politics in this Internet era.

While Rand Paul has been criticized by Libertarian-Republicans for being too mainstream (we, among his critics), there is no doubt that he has swiftly carved out a persuasive political niche as a recognized leading spokesperson for the so-called Tea Party.

The mainstream Tea Party, by eschewing criticism of the nation's military-industrial apparatus, has evolved into an acceptable political entity that stands for roughly what Ronald Reagan espoused in the late 20th century.

Fewer regulations, less bureaucracy, less taxation and more freedom from federal government were all positions that Reagan espoused. While Paul may be slightly more radical than Reagan in some areas (though not by much), he has seized a niche that has hitherto been unoccupied and for this reason we recently forecast he could be the next President of the United States: Rand Paul the Next GOP Nominee for President.

Ronald Reagan's sensibility is still a great deal closer to what a majority of US voters believe than President Barack Obama's positions. It is only common sense. Given the choice between more rules from Washington DC, more taxes and more bureaucracy, people will choose less.

In the past several elections, however, the GOP has not presented voters with a clear choice. John McCain was a conservative redistributionist and Mitt Romney was an elite technocrat. Rand Paul is as close to Ronald Reagan in terms of his positions and representations as the Republicans have got now.

Paul has made his peace with party leaders and has, in return, no doubt received assurances that he will be treated as the "leader" of the Tea Party in the Senate. In fact, he has been ordained as such.

By moving away from his father's free-market purity, Rand Paul has made himself palatable to the political establishment. By then adopting less extreme positions that are still attractive to Libertarian-Republicans, Rand Paul is emerging as the heir-presumptive to Reagan.

One can see this process at work with the recent filibuster that Rand Paul presented in the Senate over the Obama administration's lack of clarity regarding drone strikes. While Paul received some criticism from both sides of the aisle, the Democratic criticism was muted by the obviousness of Paul's position and the inadequate response from the Obama administration.

Now, House Democrats have done what modern US politics dictates they must do: They have sent a letter to Obama asking him to clarify his position on drone strikes. Here is more from the article excerpted above:

The letter was signed by Democratic Reps. John Conyers (MI), Keith Ellison (MN), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Donna Edwards (MD), Mike Honda (CA), Rush Holt (NJ), and James McGovern (MA).

The House Democrats were particularly concerned that the memo appeared to have no defined geographic boundaries, did not identify officials with the authority to approve so-called "kill-lists," provided a vague definition of feasible, and used a broad definition of "imminent threat."

"The executive branch's claim of authority to deprive citizens of life, and to do so without explaining the legal bases for doing so, sets a dangerous precedent and is a model of behavior that the United States would not want other nations to emulate," the letter stated.

"Therefore, we ask that you release, in an unclassified form, the full legal basis of executive branch claims in the areas which are the subject of this letter. The Executive's claims of authority need to be fully articulated to the whole Congress and the American people."

The Raw Story article we've quoted from doesn't focus particularly on the irony of Rand Paul's role in all of this, but it is likely a sign of things to come. Paul easily seized leadership on this issue because it is one that appeals to both right and left.

There are libertarian sensibilities on both sides of the aisle, and it was this coalition that Ronald Reagan capitalized on when he built his successful political run for the presidency. Rand Paul is showing similar skill in reigniting this coalition and if continues to exploit it, he will become one of Washington's most powerful political players.

After Thoughts

Perhaps he already is.

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