An Open Letter to Senator Rand Paul
Dear Senator Paul,
I write this letter at risk of coming across as an over-the-top, idealistic fanboy of yours. I did not love your endorsement of Mitt Romney in 2012, but I was willing to look past it. You really won my support with your 13 hour filibuster against the nomination of John Brennan in 2013, opposing the use of drones against American citizens. Then even more so when you fought, right up until just before the vote, against sending aid to the Egyptian coup later that year (I watched it live). And of course, later in 2015, you conducted another filibuster against the ever so invasive NSA surveillance. You have a history of being a champion of civil liberties, and it has inspired me. But don’t get your hopes up because this is not supportive letter.
Just over a month before your NSA filibuster you cast a nay vote against the Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch. You were cited by many reputable news sources as saying your reason for the vote against was civil asset forfeiture. You said, “I cannot support a nominee, like Mrs. Lynch, who rides roughshod on our Constitutional rights.” You also correctly stated that she is not firm on a position for or against the use of drones on American citizens, which you obviously oppose. Seeing these views are obviously against your political philosophy, your vote against Ms. Lynch was not surprise. However, your vote nearly 2 years after, a yea vote for Jeff Sessions, to me is a shocking surprise and an incredibly disappointing one at that.
Up until a few days ago, I had always viewed you as a rare politician who could vote their conscious despite pressure or influence from your party. But considering your vote in support of Jeff Sessions for United States Attorney General, I personally cannot expect you to hold that standard anymore. Mr. Sessions, like Ms. Lynch, is also a proponent of asset forfeiture and it is not hard to prove. But that is not the only issue that he supports that you do not:
- Sessions is pro drug war. You are not.
- Sessions is pro NSA surveillance. You are not.
- Sessions is for giving the police more authority. You are not.
- Sessions voted for torture. You oppose the use of torture.
- Sessions has used his governmental influence to discriminate against certain groups. You do not want the government to interfere with anyone’s life needlessly.
Given the evidence, I would venture to say that you and Jeff Sessions disagree more on the protection of civil liberties than you and Loretta Lynch, albeit slightly.
When questioned about your inconsistent vote, you responded “In some ways, the Democrats made it much more certain that I would vote for [Sessions] by trying to destroy his character”. The statement has undertones of hypocrisy, as it clearly implies that the Democrats were avoiding the issues and attacking Sessions personally, yet you use their actions as an excuse to also avoid the issues yourself and vote for him out of some sort of sympathy or desire to beat your opponent in the high school sports rivalry that is our two party system. The only apparent difference in this situation and that of 2015, is that Sessions is a Republican.
I do not know if I will ever understand your vote. It seems clear to me that a politician who professes himself as a defender of civil liberties would vote against someone like Sessions. I hope that despite this you continue to fight the fights that caused you to earn my initial support. I still have hope in you. However, this experience has awakened me from my apparent naivete to the stark reality of politics.
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