Rand Paul in the Senate: Only Anti-Intervention Hope?


Riffing off Rand Paul's halting of a new Senate Iranian sanctions bill (which I wrote about last week here), Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic sees the Senate as an anti-inteventionist's best hope:

I am…glad that the gentleman from Kentucky seized this opportunity to remind his colleagues and American citizens generally that the road to war ought to run through Congress, something that didn't happen the last time our president sent American combat troops to act on behalf of our foreign allies….

Those words and Paul's actions are mutually reinforcing arguments for a proposition that anti-war Obama supporters should have accepted by now: The problem with relying on a president to advance the non-interventionist agenda is that he or she is unlikely to cede power, regardless of his or her campaign rhetoric or previous critiques of executive excesses; whereas a single senator, while much less powerful than the president, can do a lot for the anti-war cause….

But watching Paul as a lonely voice against a war with Iran … and the extension of the Patriot Act … and the National Defense Authorization Act … and the War in Libya … well, the man could use more allies. The last time civil libertarians and anti-war voters advanced their agendas, it was because Congress, empowered by Vietnam and the scandals of Richard Nixon, pushed back against the institutional power that the executive branch had accrued….As Paul and former Senator Russ Feingold demonstrate, it is possible for both Republicans and Democrats to elect individuals who will champion civil liberties and oppose wars. If the post-9/11 national security state is to be reined in or rolled back that must happen more often. Obama has destroyed the illusion that anyone will do the job from the White House. 

Reason's Rand Paul archives. Paul is a character in my forthcoming book Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.