Rand Paul’s actions less than a week ago could potentially change the landscape of American politics – but only if other Republicans follow his lead. The GOP has had a challenging time since President Obama won the presidency in 2008, with the modest but vital victory of winning control of the House in 2010, but Republicans and conservatives have become increasingly frustrated as we continue to watch the GOP roll over, furthering Obama’s agenda as he bullies his way into his version of “compromise.” Of course, Obama’s version of compromise primarily involves getting Republicans to roll over on tax increases, sometimes in exchange for spending cuts that never seem to materialize…and if the cuts do materialize, as they kind of did with the sequester (which cut spending growth but didn’t actually reduce spending), Obama will throw a temper tantrum, trying to convince Americans that even ridiculously minor cuts will drastically affect their lives.
And that is only the brighter side of the Obama presidency.
There is a dark side to this president’s administration – a side that is hidden whenever possible, and lied about when revealed. It is the side that has obfuscated and covered up Operation Fast and Furious, shielding a potentially criminal Attorney General from Congressional investigations. It is the side that has lied and deceived about the events leading up to and following the September 11 attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya.
The entire issue surrounding Rand Paul’s filibuster came up because Attorney General Eric Holder and CIA Director (then nominee) John Brennan were not giving clear answers to Senator Paul on questions surrounding the legality of using drone strikes to kill American citizens on U.S. soil who were known to be affiliated with terrorist organizations, were known to be plotting against the United States, but were not posing an imminent threat. The example that was used when questioning the Attorney General was an American citizen, under those circumstances, who happened to be sitting in a cafe. The question should have been easy to answer, but the Attorney General chose to respond with legalese, leaving himself an out instead of providing a clear answer.
Not that long ago, President Obama was quoted as saying “I am not a dictator, I am the president.” And yet, a United States Senator could not get a clear answer from Obama’s Attorney General on whether or not the Obama administration would violate the 5th Amendment. It was only after Senator Paul’s filibuster that Holder responded, sending over a condescendingly-worded letter implying that he hadn’t even been aware of the filibuster when it occurred.
Forcing the Obama administration to commit to a position on such a clear Constitutional issue seems like a very small victory, yet Senator Paul’s tactics provide a good look into how Republicans could effectively deal with the divisive strong-arm tactics the administration has been engaged in.
Just days after Rand Paul’s historic filibuster, the House and the Senate both passed yet another continuing resolution to continue funding the federal government for a few more months. The Senate has not passed a budget in nearly four years, yet somehow, some way, our federal government is allowed to continue down its over-bloated, wasteful course. The amazing thing is that, finally, it looks as though the House and the Senate will both propose budgets, which means that even after so long, our nation may finally reach a budget agreement. Even President Obama, who blatantly disregarded federal law and missed his own budget deadline, is finally showing some momentum towards submitting his own budget proposal, though we can be fairly certain at this point that the president’s proposal will be worthy of yet another history-making “No” vote.
The big question for Congressional Republicans is, when do they finally decide that enough is enough? How much longer do we have to continue to fund an over-bloated, wasteful government?
The GOP should be taking a lesson from Rand Paul. President Obama and Senate Democrats have neither the interest nor the intention to bring fiscal responsibility back to Washington, and if we allow them to continue taking our nation down its current path, we will end up in truly dire straits – not just the pretend desperation of sequestration. Like Greece, we will be faced with real, deep spending cuts and a populace unwilling to deal with our nation’s financial reality. Perhaps this is why the Department of Homeland Security has been stocking up on armored personnel carriers and ammunition.
Now is rather late in the game, but short of turning back time, we have no other choice but to act now in order to move our nation back toward fiscal security. Budget proposals that balance over the next decade are nice to think about, but won’t do us any good when the next Congress changes them. We need real action, and we need it now.
And for the Republican Party, there are implications for both the Party and the nation. The GOP is in decline; their tendency to stand for conservatism makes them unpopular with progressives and uninformed voters, but their tendency to cave to President Obama’s agenda makes them unpalatable to conservatives. Their strategy of holding out only until they cave is a lose-lose; it’s as bad for the Republican Party as it is for the nation.
So take a lesson from Rand Paul. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Don’t compromise with a president who is more concerned with furthering his own agenda than he is with fulfilling his oath of office and doing what is truly right for America. The best time to take a stand is long past, but as far as moving forward, there is no better time than the present to stand firm and send a message to President Obama, Senate Democrats, and their media allies.