Power or Party?

by Nick Hankoff

The Rand Paul (13-Hour) Moment marked the beginning of the end of the Republican Party’s incessant militarism. How so? The divided interests are no longer Principle vs. Party as during Ron Paul’s campaign, but rather Party vs. Power. The militarists aren’t going away, but they won’t overreach again without considering the civil rights wing which has gained the respect and trust of grassroots conservatives. This new reality puts the momentum behind the liberty movement, but its long-run strategy must not rely on historic gifts from on high in the chambers of Congress.

Republicans like Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain see America as a battlefield, under attack and at the same time an essential military force for civilization worldwide. This crazed murder-suicide mentality leads them to champion causes (read: powers) that align them with elitists.

“When they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them, ‘Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer. You’re an enemy combatant,’” Lindsey Graham blasted on the Senate floor rallying for support of provisions authorizing military kidnapping of all persons, citizens included, on US soil under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

“[Army General and Chief of Staff Ray Odierno] cannot replace the men and women serving in Afghanistan under this sequestration because he doesn’t have the ability to train their replacements. Isn’t that alarm enough for us?” John McCain pleaded of his colleagues in an effort to block so-called disastrous cuts to the so-called defense budget.

Republicans like Graham and McCain are not growing their Party with these imperial delusions. More than 2/3 of Americans want out of Afghanistan. More than half think the United States is losing the War on Terror. But must the people be restricted to expressing their dissent on issues of national security through the cheerleading of a few exceptional legislators on Capitol Hill? The liberty movement must show a better path for representation and reform in foreign policy matters.

Across the country, anti-militarist coalitions are disregarding Left-Right politics to pass local resolutions and state bills that insure individual liberty against unconstitutional, authoritarian forces of the federal government. From criminalizing TSA search and seizure to limiting drone surveillance to non-compliance with indefinite detention over 40 bills are being heard. This is the good kind of blowback to the American Empire, and it’s only the beginning.

Here in California, 4 cities have passed resolutions condemning the McCain-authored NDAA indefinite detention provisions. The LA County RLC has endorsed a petition demanding the same from the LA City Council. And now, finally, in Sacramento there is AB 351, introduced by Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, which states in part:

(8) Sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112-81) violate portions of federal law, the United States Constitution, and the California Constitution and are invalid and illegal in this state.
(c) It is the policy of this state to refuse to provide material support for or to participate in any way with the implementation within this state of Sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112-81).

What an opportunity for the liberty movement to follow up on Rand Paul’s epic speech – with action! Washington, D.C. is not going to curb its practice of usurpation based on any direct appeal from the people, especially on the war powers it claims. A broad-based movement with narrow goals and decentralized tactics will succeed where a presidential campaign could not. Rand Paul’s filibuster was only the beginning, but it alone cannot be the end. Paul has brought the issue of militarism into the spotlight and now the ball is in our court. The future of liberty depends on us meeting with our neighbors, city councils, and state legisaltures where our voices, and therefore the Constitution, are less easily ignored. Start by joining the Facebook group where Californians are currently plotting the next step to pass AB 351 and stop indefinite detention in their state.

The politically-connected McCain and Graham care more about preserving their power than revitalizing the party, and obviously more than the Constitution. Once upon a time, the libertarians were damned for defending principle before party. Now those principles are the life of the party, and the neocons are being left behind.