Right now, Senator Rand Paul is in the midst of his 5th hour of filibuster in the Senate, delaying a vote on the nomination of John Brennan for CIA Director. Sen. Paul’s cause is the constitutionality of The Obama Administration’s drone strike policy, and how it reaches into the US. Essentially, does the President have the power to kill an American, in the United States, with a drone strike?
The possibility that any President does should cause every American to shudder, not because President Obama will do so; there’s no reason to assume the President would take such an action, and Sen. Paul has repeated many times he doesn’t believe such a thing will take place. But the Constitution matters, and as Sen. Paul has also repeated, one day someone might be in the Oval Office who we don’t trust.
(And, though we may not be killing Americans in the US, we are killing Americans outside the US, as well as many non-American civilians, with drones, all the time. I don’t see how that policy is easier to support.)
I don’t like Senator Rand Paul much. His politics are quite far from my own, and his attitude, in the media, seems smug and condescending. But, really, who cares about that? His filibuster today is why the US has a model of government that is (or should be) the envy of the world. He has the opportunity to make his case, unmitigated, before the American People, and, well, inspire liberals like myself on a cause that we agree on: the US drone policy must survive actual scrutiny.
Days like this are always good for American Civics, at least for us government nerds. Old-school talk-marathon filibusters are moments when American Democracy feels like its working. Especially in the midst of the terrible abuse that the filibuster has been used for in the past decade, bringing the legislative branch to it knees.