May 21

Senator Rand Paul Takes It to the Floor

Senator Rand Paul made headlines, for the second time, due to a lengthy speech yesterday and into last night that lasted ten hours and thirty minutes. Yes, he spoke on the senate floor this entire time with no breaks, in order to bring attention to this week’s vote for the Patriot Act, which is due to expire. This act allows for the NSA surveillance of Americans’ cell phones and emails. Basically, it allows the government to spy on Americans under the pretense that it will prevent terrorism. For those of you who have watched the Bourne Identity movies, and remember the CIA listening and tracking phone calls, it is exactly that. Paul’s first filibuster was to prevent drone strikes on American citizens,and he won. While this speech was not officially a filibuster because it did not delay a vote, it worked similarly to one that it will now bring much more attention to the renewal vote. American’s rights are an issue Paul feels very strongly about, so strongly that he spoke about it for over ten hours.

In case you are wondering what in the world even is a filibuster, it is a way for a legislator to “talk a bill to death.” The filibuster is a political move used throughout history, and in Ancient Rome the politician Cato would “obstruct” legislation by speaking long into the night in order to delay a vote. The filibuster also brings a lot of attention to the bill, in particular media attention, and so while the Patriot Act may have been renewed quickly in the Senate, there are now many people informed and against this act, and do not want it to pass.
Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian, has been very much against the government involvement in the personal lives of Americans. He believes that keeping Americans safe does not mean taking away personal freedom, and that the government has no right to have access and be able to sift through Americans’ information. Paul was also joined by other senators from both side of the aisle, including Senator Mike Lee and Senator Wyden.
The best part of this filibuster was that Paul did it with an element of surprise. He did not tell anyone he would take the floor for ten hours, and he prevented Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, from filling cloture and voting on the bill today.
Politics, at times, really can be quite the House of Cards.