What Can Be Learned From Rand Paul’s Filibuster

randpaulUnlike many of my fellow conservatives, I haven’t been sold on Rand Paul as the desireable future of the Republican party. He leans a little too Libertarian for my taste, and I don’t always like the way he approaches issues. Still, it’s hard to look at his thirteen-hour-long, bladder-busting filibuster on the Senate floor last Wednesday, and recognize it as anything other than a resounding success.

It wasn’t a success just because it put a spotlight on an issue Paul and other civil libertarians deeply cared about. It wasn’t a success just because it increased Paul’s political profile for a possible run at the White House in 2016. It was a success because it proved that even at a time when a frighteningly large portion of the country is indifferent to the nation’s decline, one man’s principled stand on an issue can still inspire people to stop what they’re doing and actually pay attention to what’s being said.

That’s a pretty big deal these days, and there are things that can be learned from it.

Conservative activist, James O’Keefe, identified one of those things on Wednesday night when he tweeted, “Simply by literally not sitting down, Senator Rand Paul created a mass movement. The people crave leadership. We are desperate for it.”

He was right. People saw something in Rand Paul on Wednesday that they just don’t see today in Washington: Leadership.

It wasn’t just his conservative/libertarian base that recognized that leadership. It was also recognized by many liberals (including some in the media) and even by non-political people who probably knew nothing of the topic Paul was speaking about prior to Wednesday.

They all saw leadership in the way Rand Paul put himself through a grueling display of endurance to create a public dialogue, not out of a sense of self-importance or as a method of brandishing power, but because of the love he has for his country. Whether or not you agree with him on the drone issue, or feel his stunt was warranted, no one came away from Wednesday believing that the exhibition wasn’t pure and from the heart. It was patriotic, and people recognized that.

What a contrast it was from what we’ve seen from President Obama.

Sure, people still like our president and they find him charming. Many people are even still clinging to the notion that he’s “looking out for them”, despite all of the contrary evidence. Yet, how many people honestly view President Obama as someone who loves this country more than he loves being the man in charge? I don’t think very many. Even to his loyal supporters, he’s become a consummate politician who their instincts tell them to follow and defend, while they consciously avoid examining the justifications for why.

As I watched portions of Rand Paul’s filibuster and witnessed the unscripted comradery he had with fellow senators (including a Democrat) who lent him their authentic support and relieved him of the burden of speaking continually, it served as yet another reminder of how much better off the tone in Washington could be right now. It made me think of what things would be like if we had a president who respected his political opponents, and gave them a reason to respect him.

It also made me reflect on how excruciatingly unsuccessful the Republican party has been at getting the attention of the American public, and making them focus on issues that are far more serious than the government’s discretion when it comes to using drones. Rand Paul proved that there are methods, even as a conservative, for speaking over the mainstream media and getting your message directly to the American people – one that resounds with them and makes them want to learn more.

Imagine if such a technique could be applied to the biggest challenges our country faces, like the national debt.

Now, I’m not calling for the rest of the Republican party leaders to begin committing themselves to David Blaine acts of wince-worthy endurance (although rumor has it that Blaine’s a Republican, so maybe he can help). However, they do need to start trying some unconventional things to get through to this electorate. Republicans need to do things that, even if people don’t agree with them, the public can still respect and understand why the message being conveyed is important.

Part of the formula has to be an earning of that respect. As we saw with Rand Paul, some personal sacrifice to bring attention to an issue can go a long way with the public. After all, if people find themselves questioning how dedicated their leaders are to an issue, how can they be convinced that the issue should be important to them?

I realize that this is all easier said than done. I don’t want to trivialize it. The reality is that it’s difficult for conservatives to earn people’s respect when the media is committed to routinely vilifying them and misrepresenting what they stand for. But if someone like Rand Paul can do it, there’s no reason why others can’t.

At the very least, they should try.

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration, and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. His first novel, entitled "From a Dead Sleep", is now on sale! He lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
Author website: http://www.johndalybooks.com/
  • Gradivus

    McCain and Graham are just so yesterday. They’re done.

  • Americanmeltdown

    It was refreshing to witness Paul Ryans tenacity and the courage to get his point across and an answer of the the truth dodger. We need everyone to get out front and fight! Some must lead the charge – we are losing the battle to the liberal left, nut cases.
    It’s time for us to stop relecting these passive, politically corrent old farts who’s only goal appears to be is to keep silent, so they can grab all the pork barrel they want, while, not challenging obama and crew.
    Every conservative should be shouting the warning and putting a stop to the liberal take over but the majority are silent. obama is looting our treasury and we look the other way.
    Look where the passive conservatives have gotten us as they go along with the left – we are in a mess, headed to hyperinflation and an economic collapse.
    I hope those posting here have a plan in place to live on what you will be able to provide for yourself and your family. Get out of debt, because your investments and cash will be worthless as hyperinflation continues to set in. There are more corzines out there in the wings to steal retirement accounts – you can bet on it.
    corzine – friend of obama walking free – investors left broke. Broke Americans will make better
    I’m seeing signs that the lap dog media might be waking out of their obama worship stupor and report some facts and call him out for a change. It took these media lap dog darlings awhile to figure out that what obama is doing is having a negative effect on them. They are a stupid lot for sure and they are to blame for not telling the truth, in exchange for protecting obama and the nefarious holder. Holder who runs inteterference for the antics of obama and his minions. Sorry mess we’ve let America get in.

  • Boohoo

    Until/unless republicans stop beating each other up they/we are doomed to fail. I don’t agree with all of Paul Rand’s beliefs but I’m with him on this one. McCain and Graham need to go away.

  • John Detwiler

    Rand Paul’s actions resulted in a lot more citizens of all political parties starting to question the gutless politicians who sit on their @$$es while the administration violates the constitution, hides the facts and skirts around a definative answer to questions that should be answered. Finially we are starting to get some fresh political faces in our legislature. Now the next step is to get rid of the Good Ole Boy cadre that has been prevalent for too many years.

  • FasyEddy

    Good on you! … We all will stand by and stand up for the US Constitution … which is more than the beltway bandits will ever do.

  • FloridaJim

    We are desperate for leadership from Obama, from McCain, from Graham et al most of whom should be ousted for what they have caused in America. Why elect people who build monuments to themselves on a debt of $16,700,000,000,000 to saddle our grandchildren. What kind of people are they?

  • Peep

    McCain and Graham need to retire. But unfortunately, their sheep in their states are just as bad as Obama’s sheep in the country. Rand Paul has gained my respect.

  • wally12

    I agree with your take on the R. Paul filibuster. It was some thing that needed to be done. Whether or not Paul did it to earn points is up for debate. I don’t think so but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I think that Paul did this because he truly believes that politicians are sloppy in their law making. Laws that are enacted must be explicit. They must convey what can stand the test of time and not some fussy wording that sounds good in the present but will end up being misused in the future. Take the second amendment as an example. The framers stated that the right to bear arms was not to be infringed. Yet, today we hear politicians that claim the framers meant the words to mean that citizens are allowed to own muskets only. What a crock! The framers were smart and stated that the citizens were allowed to own the best technology of the day and any advances in technology. If the framers were concerned about the citizens, they would have limited the arms to mean that only bows and arrows were to be allowed. Therefore, Paul was right on the money. He demanded that the administration define the use of drones to mean that they must not be used to attack citizens without due process. I hope the actual law reflects the concerns that Paul filibustered for.

  • http://www.facebook.com/phil.silverman.9 Phil Silverman

    At this point, I do not like this dude…BUT I can see “star power” in 2020. He’s got that Gary Cooper thing about him. I would not vote for him..he’s a true segregationist. But his filibuster was well thought out..I’m a Centrist Democrat who also would like MORE INFO. on drone use.

    • John Daly

      lol @ “Centrist Democrat”. Phil, we’ve read your other posts.

  • trailbee

    Great post. Thank you so much. McCain, ex-Dem, did what was expected – had dinner on us, then spewed venom on the one who didn’t eat. Smart man! Probably made Obama smile. The rest of us are offering Dr. Paul gratitude and a standing ovation. Reminded me of the National Prayer Breakfast and Dr. Carson’s speech.

    We have a long way to go before 2016, but at least two men have thrown down the gauntlet, and I am grateful.

    • John Daly

      I do like seeing some of the possible candidates take some initiative and define themselves. I think it’s a good thing.

  • http://1389blog.com/ 1389AD
  • Iklwa

    The next day, John McCain (I still find it hard to swallow the fact that someone choose him as the representative of conservative ideals for our presidential candidate) and Lindsey Graham really showed they should actually have “D’s” behind their names.

    Let’s just be honest about it finally.

    Their arrogance and bias toward the democrat party is pathetic.

    I will vote for ANYONE willing to stand for the Constitution and against political thuggery.

    It is a long way till the campaign starts anew.

    Let us see what transpires.

  • Shane

    Rand Paul had the courage to stand up to another attempted power grab by Obama. Obama cannot claim the right to kill any American suspected of being a terrorist in the USA. This is important since Obama seems to think that Tea Party members with guns are as dangerous as Islamic Jihadists like Major Hasan.

    • Paratisi

      I Beg to differ. The Note sent by WithHolder to Sen. Paul, left it wide open to shooting/targeting Americans with Drones or any other method, so long as the Govt says that, that American was Armed or a Combatant.

      God Bless America!

  • Charlestownjack

    Good analysis.

    • John Daly

      Thanks!

  • Moppie

    As someone posted on one of your other article. Great article BUT what we want is a LEADER not a politician! Isn’t it about time the GOP gave up the ship and let a LEADER come forth instead of who can raise the most money. We WILL recognize a true leader even if he isn’t from the “Old Guard”. I was stunned when McCain and Graham attacked Rand Paul…I think they were mad because THEY didn’t have the passion and fire in the belly themselves! Calling it a stunt, indeed. What have we seen come from either of them lately that made us stop and take notice?

  • http://www.facebook.com/elcubano Jose A Hernandez

    I had a similar reaction to Sen Elizabeth Warren when I saw her video titled ” Sen Elizabeth Warren Tears Government ‘Experts’ A New One Over Money Laundering.” I share very little with this liberal Democrat but I was, to paraphrase you, inspired by her “principled stand on an issue” that I find of great importance. I would love to read your views on this video. http://www.upworthy.com/watch-elizabeth-warren-tears-government-experts-a-new-one-over-money-laundering?g=2&c=ufb1

  • Gloria

    The reason Republicans are “excruciatingly unsuccessful” at capturing the public’s attention to re-focus on the real hard fiscal issues that are facing this country is two fold. First and foremost, it is the way anything and everything they do get out there is handled by the media. Their ideas, big or small, are marginalized by a compliant liberal left wing media that helped elect this president and must now justify his bad behavior by ignoring it. Secondly, they never fail to disagree with each other, criticize fellow Republicans (breaking the Reagan rule) and rarely present a cohesive front. It is not for lack of ideas, or lack of spokesmen. It is infighting and a negatively filtered media broadcast.

    • John Daly

      Believe me, I put more blame on the media that anything else. An overwhelmingly liberally biased media is the GOP’s biggest obstacle, hands down. But it’s also an environment that isn’t doing away. This is actually the third column I’ve written in the past few months, offering ideas for how the GOP can overcome the media. They need to figure out a successful method.

  • hillery70

    I look forward to a Rand Paul run for Presidency. He will take the GOP back to a time when we were not Militarily engaged in MENA. The country is tired of constant war and we are broke.

    Let Hillary or whoever be the candidate that wants foreign entanglements, drone or $$$$$. Let the GOP decide to back someone who says the US is not the World’s policeman. We can also be more judicial is foreign money giveaways.

    Bush, McCain, etc turned the GOP into a ground troop party. Drones are superior to sending in ground troops, but staying out of sovereign nations is a better option, IMHO.

  • hihoze

    Well said BG. Defending our Constitution is something every DC’ver takes an oath to uphold and defend and then proceeds to usurp it and grow a National government far beyond it’s enumerated powers or power delegated to it by the States of our Union to the benefit of the Donkeyphants and Washington,DC’vers. While Senator Paul was delivering a UNIFYING, heart felt defense of our Constitution, the Usurpers, Donkeyphants and DC’vers were eating like pigs at the most expensive taxpayer trough they could find. That shouldn’t go unnoticed either.

    • John Daly

      Agreed. I saw unification, not division in what he did.

  • GailWehling

    I loved it, watched a lot of it and for once in recent times, I felt proud of the Party. A wonderful job, very well done!

    • http://profiles.google.com/rmtuci78 Rich Matarese

      “… I felt proud of the Party.”

      Don’t attribute Dr. Paul’s achievement to “the Party.”

      If you want an appreciation of “the Party” and its attitude toward the enforcement of the Bill of Rights, look instead to the actions and statements of Senators Graham and McCaine.

      There’s the “establishment.”

      There’s the enemy, just as much as are Dingy Harry and his caucus.

      • GailWehling

        Love what you said. The reason I said Party is—at this time he is a Republican, under the Label of the Republican Party. It will be that way unless the Tea Party declares itself as the 3rd Party. At this point he is under the Republican. I think the best plan is to slowly change how the Republican Party is—by moving the Conservative Principles into it. A 3 Party system will never work.

  • ulyssesmsu

    “It wasn’t just a success because it put a spotlight on an issue Paul and other civil libertarians deeply cared about. It wasn’t just a success because it increased Paul’s political profile for a possible run at the White House in 2016.”

    Well, if it wasn’t “just” a success, what else was it?

    Put the “just” after “success” and you’ll have 2 very coherent sentences.

    • John Daly

      Thanks for keeping me on my toes. ;)

  • Montana Made

    Yes- Rand Paul got noticed, but the Lofovo’s (low information voters) will STILL not take anything other than what’s on Facebook, Twitter and other short hit outlets, and unfortunately, they are being run by the liberals who will ALWAYS twist things so that only liberal information is being read by the Lofovo’s. The issue still remains- how do we as Conservatives get through to the Lofovo’s who’s votes got Obama elected yet again? Answer that, and we win the war…

  • artlouis

    Nice piece. Especially in the light of McCain’s asinine response, this will be seen as the turning point for the GOP, the moment when the party’s leadership passed to a new generation (echoes of JFK!). Paul, Rubio, Cruz. Suddenly we see an embarrassment of riches.

    • John Daly

      I like McCain, and I respect his opinion that Paul’s filibuster was unnecessary, but to voice it in the way he did made him look like a jerk, and gave ammo to the GOP’s detractors. Not a good move on his part.

      • artlouis

        Limbaugh got a kick out of the McCain statement. He said that nobody in the electorate cares about the Senate’s rules, and most people probably think there aren’t any.

      • Brhurdle

        I couldn’t agree more with your position. You can certainly disagree on principle, but both McCain’s and Graham’s tone of response gave the appearance they they were more concerned with being ursuped as the prominent spokemen and were out to exact retribution.

        • Ted Crawford

          McCain and Graham could have been valuable representatives in the struggle for a reasonable balance between Conservative Americans and Liberal Americans. That is, however, NOT the fight we are engaged in today!
          Today the battle is betwen Americans and Anti-Americans! What else would explain the fact that CPUSA found it unnecessary to even field a Candidate for President, but simply threw all their moneys and support behind Obama?
          What else explains the fact that ; Sheila Jackson-Lee, Barney Frank, Jessie Jackson Jr., Charles Rangle, Maxine Waters, Henry Waxman and 64 other Senators and Congress Persons are currently listed on the Membership rolls of The Socialist Party of America?
          McCain and Graham, with respect to the current battle, are like a couple of Sherman Tanks attempting to engage a Company of Abrams!

        • John Detwiler

          That is what happened, they didn’t like someone doing what they didn’t have the gonads to do.

      • Peter Kleinschmidt

        Sometimes I wonder what you like and don’t like. Make up your mind and at least attempt to be concise. You are not a girl. Kinda this kinda that-are you afraid of offending someone or you just want to be a fake so-called reasonable type? McCain gets your respect because your just like him , but I have to be fair and say you don’t react like knee-jerk McCain. Rand is completely right, and followed through on principle as far as he could. People like McCain and Lindsey Graham are liable for the problems with the Republican party. Not to change the issue , but when they disagree with a fellow Republican, they come off as if they are special, smarter, etc. and the arrogance of those two-that the public hates to see. So you respect McCain’s opinion on Paul’s filibuster????????????????????????????????????????

        • John Daly

          Oh boy.

          If you’ve read some of my past columns, you know that I’m not afraid of ‘offending’ people. With all due respect, that’s a pretty lame claim for you to make. I think you’re just frustrated that my take on the topic isn’t a carbon-copy of yours.

          When I say that I “like” McCain, I’m not talking about his personality. I think he’s a noble, honest person whose service to this country is worthy of great admiration. I think he’s strong on foreign policy, I think he’s a good leader who has done a lot to seek accountability from this administration (especially on Benghazi). I wish he would have become our president in 2008.

          I don’t agree with him on everything, including how he reacted to Paul’s filibuster. I respect his disagreement with Paul… I just don’t like how he handled himself. Paul deserves praise, not scorn, for what he did.

          If you have trouble accepting my views and feel the need to call me names, so be it. Thanks for reading my column.

          • Peter Kleinschmidt

            Thicker skin would help you , lighten up. Really , McCain’s service to the country is worthy of admiration? I would hope that’s how everyone feels, but to go over the obvious does not excuse his radical views of being the world’s police, that is how he confuses people in how they see where he is coming from. Sure there’s great amount of respect owed to McCain. But if you have noticed he has had habit of being nice at the wrong time, ex. running against Barry 2008. He also has a temper which he uses at the wrong time-sure he is human, but he reacts to everything backwards.

          • John Daly

            lol. My feelings weren’t hurt, Peter. Just found your outrage a bit odd.

  • JW, Evergreen, CO

    Thanks for another thoughtful article. Your last couple of articles have hit on some important points. Earlier you mentioned how conservatives have to change their vocabulary in order to connect with the rest of the country. No more use of “sequester” or charts showing the insolvency of Medicare and Social Security. I like your idea of “Chop-shop economics”, etc. to get points across.

    In this article you point out how Paul got around the mainstream news sources to get his message across. I hope that he used Facebook, Twitter and will post parts of his filibuster on YouTube. That’s how to get people to pay attention. My kids are 23 and 19. One is a grad from Colo. Univ, the other is a student at Georgetown. They get virtually all of their political info from the internet, Facebook or Twitter.

    Those are the outlets that conservatives need to use to get out their message. Nobody pays any attention to the evening news. Why do you think that Obama is always hanging out with the Facebook, Google and Microsoft guys?

    • John Daly

      Thanks for your comment, JW.

      I noticed that the Republican party did more with social media in the last election cycle than ever before, but they’re still way behind the Dems in that area. As much as conservatives are understandably irritated with “low information voters” due to their obliviousness during a treacherous time in our country’s history, we can’t escape the reality that we need to find ways to engage them because they’re sway-able.

      BTW, I live in Colorado too. I’m hoping to get down to Heathfire Books in Evergreen this summer for a book signing. I’ll be posting dates on my website:
      http://fromadeadsleep.com/