Right now, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is making serious waves in the GOP.
First, there was his epic 13-hour filibuster on the confirmation of CIA Director James Brennan while awaiting confirmation from the White House that the President does not have the authority to use drones to kill American non-combatants on American soil. Writes Robert Taylor of Policy Mic:
Paul’s filibuster drew lines in the sand, and for the first time in a long time, they weren’t partisan. Instead of left vs. right, it became state power vs. civil liberties. From my end, all over Facebook and Twitter I saw my generation #StandwithRand and put bickering aside over these vital issues to confront the reality of presidential assassinations, kill lists, indefinite detention and lawless drone war in a supposed free republic.
On our side of the line stood everyone from the likes of Rand Paul, the ACLU, Code Pink and millions of young people in support of the Bill of Rights and basic civil liberties. Left, right, middle, libertarian; what exactly do these labels mean anymore with such a populist support as was seen for Rand? To use the Wall Street Journal‘s post-filibuster screed against them, “If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in college dorms.” Exactly.
Why did he stand on his feet and hold up the vote into the wee hours of the night? Because, in the words of Senator Paul:
I have a message for the President, a message that is loud and clear, a message that doesn’t mince words. The message for the President is that no one person gets to decide the law, no one person gets to decide your guilt or innocence. My question to the President was about more than just killing Americans on American soil. My question was about whether Presidential power has limits.
That was how he explained his actions during his rousing speech at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) — a speech that solidified his popularity among conservatives and won him a first place victory in the CPAC straw poll – one of the early indicators for potential nominees in the next presidential election. If you haven’t seen the speech, I recommend it. (Pay attention to the lines that get the most cheers.)
Within days of his CPAC win, Rand Paul introduced a piece of legislation that I hope will gain traction in Congress. Called “The Life at Conception Act” (S. 583) the bill aims to employ the protections afforded by the 14th amendment in defense of the unborn.
“Sen. Paul introduced S.583, a bill that would implement equal protection under the 14th Amendment for the right to life of each born and unborn human,” the senator’s office said, per a press release.
“This legislation does not amend or interpret the Constitution, but simply relies on the 14th Amendment, which specifically authorizes Congress to enforce its provisions,” his office adds.
Here is what Section 1 of the 14th Amendment states:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The bill has 15 cosponsors (all Republican) including Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), John Boozman (Ark.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Daniel Coats (Ind.), Thomas Coburn (Okla.), Michael Enzi (Wyo.), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Charles “Chuck” Grassley (Iowa), John Hoeven (N.D.), James “Jim” Inhofe (Okla.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), James Risch (Idaho), John Thune (S.D.), and Roger Wicker (Miss.)
“The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known — that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore is entitled to legal protection,” Sen. Paul said.
“The right to life is guaranteed to all Americans in the Declaration of Independence and ensuring this is upheld is the Constitutional duty of all Members of Congress,” he added.
This is exciting news. Although his father, retired Texas Congressman Ron Paul, unsuccessfully introduced “The Sanctity of Life Act” several times over his tenure, this bill is simpler and already has wider support than those earlier initiatives. Even if he can’t get the legislation passed, one thing that Rand Paul has proven with his filibuster is that issues of national importance will not be ignored and shoved under the legislative rug. Thanks to his actions on Brennan’s nomination, the nation is talking about the morality of drone strikes. Could the same type of conversation be coming about abortion and the Constitutional protections of the unborn? Let’s hope so.
Also speaking at CPAC, Texas Governor (and 2012 Republican presidential contender) Rick Perry made a jab at the party’s presidential nominees in recent years:
“The popular media narrative is that this country has shifted away from conservative ideals, as evidenced by the last two presidential elections,” he said. “That might be true if Republicans had actually nominated conservative candidates in 2008 and 2012.”
I don’t consider Perry to be more conservative than either Romney or McCain, but Rand Paul certainly is. Here’s to hoping that in 2016, we get a candidate we don’t mind standing with. A candidate like Rand.