Death of a RhinocerosSubmitted by Common Ground on Fri, 03/08/2013 - 16:09
DEATH OF A RHINOCEROS
I generally disdain the use of the term RINO, just as I shun the phrase “true conservative”. Not that I doubt there are those in the Republican Party who, if subjected to hot lights and dripping wax, would confess to less-than-conservative sentiments and generally more liberal, big-government sympathies. It’s just that, in modern day parlance, RINO and true conservative have too often been reduced to mean “any Republican who doesn’t 100% agree with me.”
However, since my preferred epithet of choice – Democrats Outfitted in Republican Clothing (DORCs) – failed to catch on with the public at large, we’ll accept for the sake of conversation the term RINO applies to an individual who wraps himself in the cloak of the Republican Party platform while espousing positions which through word and deed openly contravene that platform.
On that basis, John McCain and Lindsay Graham are RINOs. And worse.
When Kentucky Senator Rand Paul stood in the well of the Senate for 13 hours this week to remind Americans who they are, it was not so much the threat of government sanctioned drone strikes on U.S. citizens that fascinated so many. After all, not too many Americans today live in literal fear of Hellfire missiles raining down on them (although, in a society which has grown increasingly paranoid about their government – with good reason – there are undoubtedly more than a few with their eyes warily turned to the unfriendly skies). It was that, for the first time in memory, we were witness to an abject lesson of what our nation is supposed to be and what we have, unfortunately, become.
What Senator Paul so brilliantly and courageously reminded us of is that the government of the United States is not our lord and master and we are not its subjects, to be disposed of if we are perceived to threaten its preeminence in our lives. One can argue the merits of drones versus no-drones if one likes and we can spend forever listening to proponents debating opponents. But the bigger message to be learned from Senator Paul’s marathon civics course is that we are in imminent danger of sleeping right through the federal government’s total and complete abrogation of our rights as free human beings. Rand Paul’s filibuster was a wake-up call.
Senator Paul’s point is not that the government would actually preeminently kill American citizens it considers a threat, but whether it claims it has that right. If it does, if the Leviathan’s response is that it has the right to kill Americans with impunity, then we are no longer a free society. It’s as simple as that. If, by executive fiat, we can be deprived of the very first of our inalienable rights – life itself – then America is no more. Liberty and happiness have little appeal without life. If the words “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated” no longer have meaning, then no words have meaning. If the Constitution, the very bedrock and foundation of our Republic, loses meaning, then as a nation we no longer have a foundation. Without a foundation, we are no longer a nation. We are a collection of subjects, permitted life at the whim of and for the benefit of a behemoth.
We have all felt in recent weeks during the sequestration debate the all encompassing and suffocating weight of this federal behemoth. Attempt to curtail the voraciousness of its appetite, defy it in any way, and it will punish you: criminals will be set free to wander among you, food will no longer be inspected, borders will not be secured, children will not be immunized, seniors will not be given healthcare, public lands and parks will be closed, schools will be teacher-less, roads will go unrepaired, emergency personnel will be furloughed, your house may burn down. The government tells us, “Give us what we want or we will make you suffer.”
So Rand Paul speaks in the well of the Senate chamber for thirteen hours. He chooses to use drone strikes as his metaphor, yet it could have been so many other things, so many other abuses wrought upon us by an angry and jealous Leviathan. He shouts a warning to the American people. “This is who you were and who you were meant to be. This is who you are becoming.” He is Kevin McCarthy at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers shouting, “Turn back. It is not too late.”
The following day, the increasingly gaseous and flatulent John McCain took to the Senate floor to condemn what he called Paul’s ridiculous stunt. McCain, who long ago wore out his hero’s welcome, referred to Senators Paul, Cruz and Amash as “wacko birds.” The Arizona potentate who crafted Campaign Finance Reform to further deprive citizens of their voice in government certainly had a right to be offended by Paul’s remarks since he is, along with the equally repugnant Lindsay Graham, the very beating heart of all that sustains the malignancy and corruption in Washington, D.C.
At some undetermined point in the tangles of my life, with the exception of our military men and women, I gave up believing in heroes. Sports stars always sold out and moved to another team. Entertainers traded virtue for indulgence. Preachers feigned faith and abused the word of God. Politicians sold their souls for reward and treasure. I had determined that I would never again allow neither my heart nor my brain to be easily persuaded by the lofty words and illusory deeds of what Samuel Adams labeled “false and designing men.” They lurk among us and un-shyly steal all we believe.
All that changed Wednesday. I have no doubt of the absolute sincerity of Rand Paul’s words. I haven’t a shred of uncertainty about the urgency of his message. I may not have complete faith that “it is not too late”. But I at least have some now and that’s more than I had before. It’s a good enough place to start. Listening to Rand Paul and all the heroes of the hour – Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Jerry Moran and the others – gave me hope that there are those who understand the nature of the threat this nation faces and see it for the true existential threat that it is. A nation ruled by fear is a nation without hope.
Hero is generally a word reserved for someone who performs a life-risking act of courage. In that sense, what Rand Paul did two days ago was hardly an act of heroism. He had no risk of death. But, honestly, I do not care. Just for reigniting within me beliefs I was beginning to shed, faith I was beginning to doubt, confidence I was beginning to lose and for reminding me, if only briefly, that heroes indeed may still exist, Rand Paul, junior Senator from Kentucky, fits the bill just fine.
And John McCain is a DORC.
And so is Lindsay Graham.