SYNDICATED COLUMN: Is Rand Paul America’s #1 Liberal?

Libertarians Replace Democrats as Warriors Against Crazy Presidents

There once was a time (before the 1980s) when liberals were a powerful force against executive overreach. Democrats like George McGovern opposed wars of choice. Democrats like Frank Church exposed the CIA, which led to an executive order (by President Ronald Reagan!) that banned political assassinations. A Democratic Congress held impeachment hearings against Richard Nixon, in part because he violated the privacy rights of a few hundred Americans by tapping their phones. Millions of lefties marched against the Vietnam War — it didn’t matter that the president was a Democrat.

Things have changed.

A “liberal” president and his Democratic congressional and media allies aren’t fighting the good fight. They’re committing the worst crimes.

And so, following what Chris Hedges called “the death of the liberal class,” where the Hellfire missiles fly and in streets that ought to be full of protesters, naught but crickets, here’s what’s left:

The most liberal politician in America is a right-winger.

Rand Paul, who in May led a 13-hour filibuster in the Senate over Obama’s drone war, is the mainstream’s point man against dystopian killer air robots. This is the kind of thing that, had even a Democratic president like LBJ had been up to, would have had Democrats and the liberal media up in arms.

Even though an out-of-control White House is leaving open the option of using drones to blow up Americans on American soil (not that it’s OK in Pakistan), Democrats are nowhere to be found. At least 4,000 people — by law, all innocent since none were charged by a court — have been assassinated under Obama’s orders. Meanwhile, liberal politicians sit on their hands. Progressive media outlets scarcely mention these horrors, and when they do it’s in tepid tones that rarely call out Obama as the blood-soaked mass murderer he is.

Is Rand Paul so far right that, like Pat Buchanan back when, he comes all the way around the back to the left? Are Paul’s maverick stances just a marketing program to draw attention to himself, in preparation for 2016? Or is his brand of libertarianism genuine? Whatever the motivation, Paul has become the most, perhaps the only, establishment political figure expressing a progressive vision on a host of incredibly important issues…issues that have been abandoned by the state-sanctioned Left.

Paul, a right-wing Republican who believes Israel can do no wrong, is nevertheless he establishment’s most passionate defender of privacy rights. The libertarian scion has sponsored a bill that would prohibit the NSA from intercepting and storing Americans’ phone records. (Because the NSA charter limits its activities to foreign intelligence gathering, the phone tapping and other Orwellian programs revealed by Edward Snowden are illegal. The bill would ban the phone intercepts explicitly.)

Only four senators are backing this progressive legislation. Paul is the only Republican; most Democrats continue to defend Obama and his NSA, whose totalitarian approach to stealing our information — they take it all — makes East Germany’s “Lives of Others” Stasi look like nosy neighbors. Paul, a free-market purist, wants to overturn the vile Patriot Act, get rid of the useless TSA (“The American people shouldn’t be subjected to harassment, groping, and other public humiliation simply to board an airplane”), and states openly that proposals for Congressional oversight of the NSA — typical, lame sops to public disgust, and Congress was supposed to be doing that all along, weren’t they? — won’t be enough.

“The Constitution doesn’t allow for a single warrant to get a billion phone records,” says the senator from Kentucky. “They basically, I believe, are looking at all of the cell phone calls in America every day.”

The most liberal Democrats in the Senate? They’re collaborators with Obama’s Gestapo.

Dick Durbin sporadically issues some pretty, progressive-esque, pro-privacy noises about reining in the NSA, yet voted to renew the Patriot Act, which captures Americans but not terrorists. Al Franken is pro-fascist security state. “I can assure you that this isn’t about spying on the American people,” Franken said. Actually, that’s exactly what it’s about.

When George W. Bush was in power, “liberal” California senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein railed against NSA spying on Americans, calling it an impeachable offense. Now that the president is a member of their party, Boxer is silent and Feinstein is the NSA’s PR flack.

On a lot of issues, Rand Paul’s stances are contemptible. Exhibit A: He opposed the Civil Rights Act as a violation of “state’s rights,” the clarion call of the segregationist Old South. Yet on many of the existential questions of our time, radical policies that have transformed the United States from a democratic republic to a terrifying authoritarian state that uses brute force to subjugate a vast global empire, Rand is on the side of the angels — far more so than the self-defined progressives who claim to value civil liberties while running interference for the insular, violent and repressive Obama Administration.

Rand stood tall against Obama’s fascist National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the federal government to kidnap U.S. citizens and throw them into prison forever without charging them with any crime. “His signature [on the NDAA] means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended,” said Anthony Romero of the ACLU of Obama.

Naturally, the Republican establishment is pissed off at Paul.

GOP columnist Charles Krauthammer slammed Paul as “politically radical” and “socially liberal.” (No comment on whether spying on every American, or assassinating innocent civilians, is “radical.”) Chris Christie, a top 2016 presidential contender, calls Paul’s suspicion of endless wars against Middle Eastern countries “dangerous.” (Unlike the wars?) John McCain calls him a “wacko bird” (takes one to know one) for opposing drones.

If you want evidence of the crisis of the two-party system, look no further than the strange new bedfellows of the age of Obama. Even before the Snowden leaks, 70% of Democrats and 77% of Republicans believed the NSA was violating their privacy. Both Democrats and Republicans who felt this way thought the NSA wasn’t justified: 51% and 52%, respectively.

Even in Congress, a “loose alliance of lawmakers” is allied against the leadership of their own parties” on issues like the NSA and Obama’s desire to attack Syria.

Though nascent, the libertarian-left attack against the liberal-conservative establishment is a big deal. This tendency, as Marxists call it, can develop in one of two directions. There might be a dramatic political realignment such as 1932, when FDR’s New Deal began to move African-Americans and white Southerners into the Democratic camp. Or — I think this is more likely — newly exposed fissures will open, showing that the real split is between oppressed and oppressor, not “liberal” Democrat and “conservative” Republican.

(Ted Rall’s website is Go there to join the Ted Rall Subscription Service and receive all of Ted’s cartoons and columns by email.)



  • aaronwilliams135
    September 26, 2013 6:06 PM

    Ted, I commend you on being logic and reason based enough to see good things in strange places.

    I’m glad you mention Pat Buchanan, and would direct you to his “Why the Reagan Democrats Departed” column. It is an outstanding explanation of how the economic elites and their political enablers sold out the middle-class in search of profits.

    With enemies like these, who needs friends?

  • aaronwilliams135
    September 26, 2013 6:23 PM

    Pat’s “Who Killed the Middle Class” piece is also excellent.

    A search for “NAFTA” on his website brings up many more.

    Not that I agree with everything that Pat says. And I certainly don’t share his vision of what utopia looks like. But, by holding my nose and reading through his more objectionable stuff, and looking for silver-linings of knowledge, I find that Pat does some good work, particularly in the area of the economy.

    • @aaron: I agree. In fact, about a year ago I was corresponding with the editor of his magazine, with a view toward writing a column about ways that his brand of nationalism could intersect with progressivism. I am sad that the discussions never went very far.

      On the other hand, I probably need to end up at a publication that is more in line with my own thinking.

  • I’d posit Rand Paul is no right-winger at all, and you’re smart enough to see through that, and the false left-right dichotomy, even more so when applied to the bipolar political reality in America. Rand is a libertarian passing as a Republican, just like so many Socialists pass as liberals in the Democratic crowd.
    The good news is, if both contingents can put aside their differences and struggle jointly against the duopoly, US politics (and US relations with the surrounding planet) would be so much better.

  • I’m on the bus with Buce – If only our “representatives” would represent us and the american public could see past the end of their nose…

  • “Is Rand Paul America’s #1 Liberal?”

    No. This is obvious. “Rightwing” is just a shorthand for moral failure in the political realm. As a result, there is no coherent thing that you call “leftwing” since anyone displaying a single moral value jumps into the “leftwing” category for the duration — it’s no different than a Scientologists claiming that there are two theological positions: Scientology versus Everything Else. Clearly, the former is just moral bankruptcy and the latter is a worthless category since it encompasses too many perspectives.

    Paul displays a moral upon occasion. Then he happily embraces and encourages turpitude and loathsome tyranny on others. Many others. If he did not have a corrupt state as a backdrop, he would be given short shrift, if any attention at all. But we have a nigh-perfect ogliarchy that has managed to bring torture and rape into the politically acceptable mainstream.

    Rall is wrong to say that liberalism is at an all-time low in the U.S. Despite the visible opposition to the Vietnam War, FAR more people protested the Iraq War than Vietnam — and those protests began before the war began. This is a remarkable thing in a cruel empire. The trick is that the U.S. has purged egalitarianism (and thus liberalism) and any other virtue from its aristocracy, even if those virtues have become more characteristic of the population. Thus, you end up with a more moral underclass than had fifty years ago — but a tremendously more publicly immoral aristocracy. Nixon gave us the EPA while well-off “lefties” like the young Clintons began identifying with corporate leaders more than the working man — Obama has scarcely one (thoroughly compromised) semi-populist measure to his name while the U.S. public is hostile to even a potential new war with brown-skinned foreigners.

    If the Mafia takes total control of your town, sure, the one made man who counsels a light touch stands out, but only because your standards of criminality have dropped.

    • @Sekmet: Several really excellent points there, so I will just let them stand. Thanks for those.

      Looking back now, 10 years later, it looks like the huge protests against the invasion of Iraq were the last gasp of liberalism in the United States. If anything, things have gotten considerably worse since then, and I think the failure of the protests against Iraq have so discouraged the left that now they don’t even bother anymore.

      Unfortunately, what few people realize is that what failed in 2003 was moderation and reasonableness. Back in the 1960s, radicalism and militancy were what succeeded to change things.

  • Time to do more than complain – Vote them out of office. Demand that super-PACs and giant funding from special interests be made illegal. Puncture the tires on the cars of any CEO’s of monster corporations, insurance companies and healthcare providers. Take it to them, because they sure won’t stop taking it from you. They aren’t just hoping that John Q. Public stays naive and misinformed, they are BANKING on it!

  • Sekhmet: “we have a nigh-perfect ogliarchy that has managed to bring torture … into the politically acceptable mainstream”

    No. Executive order, backed up by the Supreme Court and Congressional resolutions (Mr Rall keeps trying to say these are only resolutions, so not quite laws) have said that the word ‘torture’ cannot be applied to anything done by the US government. The correct term for using the rack, bastinado, thumbscrews, electrodes to the genitals, etc., etc., when done by the US government, is ‘enhanced interrogation’, which is perfectly legal and in full concordance with the Constitution.

    It’s a pity George Orwell isn’t alive to update his essay, but I’m sure anyone visiting his grave must see evidence of turning.


    Further, anyone who opposing the US bombing any other country anywhere in the world is an isolationist who wants to recreate the conditions that led to Pearl Harbor.

    More work for Mr Orwell’s ghost.

  • What is proven here is the total meaninglessness of our political labels. I joust with commenters on the website of a neo-fascist rural Oregon newspaper. Many there call Obama a progressive. We have these political labels because America MUST have an ready enemy on whom to focus its apparent bottomless hate&fear of the NON-exceptional “other.”

    We have two political tribes, both whores to the corporate powers that have seized control of the government and society. The bickering of the tribes is the day-to-day version of the quadrennial presidential “horse race” BS. It’s blatant, attempted distraction of the population from the gravity of the real problems that this system has caused and for which, obviously, no internal solution will be forthcoming.

    That the likes of Rand Paul can be seen to exhibit brief flashes of political sanity merely proves the depravity of the system in place, currently managed by Obumma’s Gestapo.

    Sure the radical (“right”) reich is pissed off at Paul. Because the ONLY real problem the GOP has with Obumma’s unchecked power to imprison and murder is that their tribe leader is not exercising it.

    I hadn’t see the pre-Snowden poll numbers. These add good evidence to the claims (Webster Tarpley) that Snowden (and Assange & Ellsberg before him) was a limited hang out operation – a flashy, intentional “leak” of what most had already suspected to hide much more horrible truth.

    Listen to Mike Malloy ( if you want to hear media identification of war criminals. Tarpley has as good an analysis as to be found for the occurrences superficially reported in the mainstream press.

  • Aaron,

    Mostly agree with Buchanan’s column you linked, except that of course he believes that Nixon and Regan were good for the American worker. Nixon destroyed the gold standard and created 401(k)s and HMOs. I hope I don’t have to list what Reagan did. Pat is inconsistent and intellectually dishonest as usual.

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