While I don’t generally buy into the views of Ron or Rand Paul on foreign policy, Rand Paul’s filibuster, which is being credited with giving new momentum to the GOP, sets a promising precedent. Paul’s insistence that the president has no constitutional authority to use drone strikes against Americans on US soil was morally obvious, yet at the same time profoundly subversive, since it implies that there are, after all, limits on state authority, and therefore that the doctrine of sovereignty in the pure Hobbesian sense is fall. Bravo! Interestingly, since the Republicans have a reputation as the hawkish party, strong on national security, Paul’s stand actually went against part of what Republicans identify with, but the political configuration allowed Paul to appear, sort of, as the voice of the GOP against the soulless statism of the Obama administration. Paul’s message was fundamentally the doctrine of human rights or natural rights: it’s wrong to kill innocent people, period.
It probably wouldn’t work right now, but one wonders whether at some point in the future, Republicans could be flip-flopped on the immigration issue with similar ease. If a Republican candidate opportunistically assailed the Obama administration for its draconian deportation policies, that would doubtless alienate some of the base, but the GOP might look like white knights and protectors of the weak, and become more popular in some quarters, and Republicans who aren’t particularly nativist might just embrace it. What’s at stake here is the moral high ground. Seizing it is really a lot of fun, and it can pay off in the oddest and most delightful ways.