Thursday, March 07, 2013

Welcome To The Road To Damascus





Last night, Rand Paul spake and it was good.

For thirteen hours, the junior Senator from Kentucky did not read the newspaper, did not recite nursery rhymes, did not impress us with his knowledge of Betty Crocker. Instead, he spoke eloquently on one subject and one subject only; will the President guarantee he will not kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil if they are not engaged in combat against their country.

For one day in that much reviled house on Capitol Hill, there was no discussion of the record number of judicial appointments unfilled, no talk of the idiocy meat cleaver called the sequester, no whining about who caused what latest inanity. For one day, it was about the most fundamental right; the right to not be killed by your government.

As I watched, Sen. Paul, I found myself frequently responding, nodding my head, retweeting missives from two writers, one liberal, one conservative, who have led this quiet crusade for years. As the night wore on and other Republicans joined Paul, there was a subtle shift in attitudes on my social media. Suddenly, it was a pep rally. A chance for Republicans to call out Democrats for not supporting the obvious. Rightly so.

But let's not shake those pom-poms too vigorously yet.

Let's travel back a decade and visit with Jose Padilla. Padilla was arrested in 2002 on charges of conspiring to create a "dirty bomb". He was transferred to military custody and held in solitary confinement for years without facing a court. The Bush administration argued vigorously that the in times of crisis, the 4th Amendment did not apply. Sound familiar?

Before his case came before the Supreme Court, the Bush administration finally transferred Padilla to civilian court where he was indicted, tried and convicted.

That decade also saw the establishment of the TSA. At the time, it was seen as a necessary inconvenience. Heck, there were those who said it didn't go far enough; that we should profile or ban certain groups from traveling all together. Ten years, later, TSA is seen as molesters of grandmothers and young children. Was this radical change caused by the natural tendency of Americans to quickly forget necessities when it interferes with convenience or yet another case of political expedience when the other guy holds the power? Probably a little of both.

As much as those hypocrisies irritate, so be it. The fight is here and it is now. As I hoped over five years ago, President Obama has awakened Republicans from their decade long slumber and prodded them to care about things beyond placating Grover Norquist or worshiping the deceased. He did it by mixing a little Nixon, lack of transparency, and a little Dubya, the imperial Presidency, and certainly with a stance I find abhorrent. But, it is done none the less.

Welcome to the great civil liberties awakening, Republican brothers and sisters. But have a care about preening with too much pride over your latest star. For it is pride that brought us here.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Amen.

BEZERKO said...

Might be taken more seriously on this one issue, if the bullshit about "smaller government"(making the public good secondary) market fundamentalist ideology, eliminating public protections, eliminating public investments and his enthusiastic support for allowing the public infrastructure to continue crumbling didn't spew from his mouth also. The economic libertarian crowd has to realize that if you can't go to the doctor, when you're sick, you're not really free. Civil liberties and private success are worthy things, but private success depends on public investment. Right now, we care about property more than we care about people. Set a building on fire, and the fire department comes and tries to put it out. Set a person on fire, and they check to see if you have insurance first. Personal liberty and self interest are important, but our common interests shouldn't be sacrificed on the altar of self interest. I'm all for civil liberties, the pursuit of happiness and living happily ever after, but without public investment, they're not possible.