In this week’s episode, we’ll tell you about another step toward nullifying indefinite detention in California. And speaking of nullification, Ron Paul talked about it not once, but twice this week. We’ll tell you about Tennesseans talking hemp. Later in the show, we’ll talk about the prophetic words of a man who demonstrated some pretty impressive political courage.
Host: Michael Boldin.
Content Production: Mike Maharrey
Political courage is rare.
We see it every once in awhile – a public figure standing on principle – defying prevailing opinion. But even in those rare instances, they usually have a few like-minded companions standing beside them, deflecting some of the flack.
But on Oct. 25, 2001, Sen. Russ Feingold stood utterly alone.
He cast the only vote in the Senate against the Patriot Act.
I don’t care who you are, that couldn’t have been easy – to stand against all of your Senate colleagues, and really, against the entire country. Everybody was flag waving. Everybody was scared. Everybody was singularly focused on “stopping the terrorists.”
But Feingold had his eyes focused on the bigger picture – the Constitution – our founding principles. Most of the time we praise people for that kind of stand. Not that day. He was vilified as a “far-lefty,” as an ignorant liberal, as un-American.
I call him courageous. I might disagree with 100 other positions he took – but he was 110 percent right that day.
Listen to what he said when he later explained his vote.
“The Founders who wrote our Constitution and Bill of Rights exercised that vigilance even though they had recently fought and won the Revolutionary War. They did not live in comfortable and easy times of hypothetical enemies. They wrote a Constitution of limited powers and an explicit Bill of Rights to protect liberty in times of war, as well as in times of peace.”
I would argue especially in times of war. It’s easy to talk about the Constitution and civil liberties when things are going well. But when people are running scared, they quickly cast off heady notions of liberty for the illusion of security.
And make no mistake – it is an illusion. Consider that all of the post-9/11 security measures couldn’t stop a couple of kids from blowing up pressure cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon.
When we disregard basic principles like due process and bestow more power on an already out of control centralized authority, we fling open the door to a danger far greater than the terrorists the measures were meant to protect us from. Especially when we allow the federal machine to operate in secret. In this sense, Feingold was prophetic. He saw into the future and predicted exactly what expanded power under the Patriot Act would look like”
Of course, given the enormous anxiety and fears generated by the events of September 11th, it would not have been difficult to anticipate some of these reactions, both by our government and some of our people. And, of course, there is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists.
But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. That would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America.
All of those ifs have become reality in America. We do live in a police state. The feds do search people at any time for any virtually any reason. If you don’t believe me, Google Brandon Mayfield. The feds do read emails, eavesdrop on phone conversations and collect reams of data on innocent Americans. The feds do claim the power to kidnap and indefinitely detain us. We do live in that kind of country. And you know what? Russ was right. It’s not the kind of country that I want to live in.
And so I resist. I resist at the state and local level. I resist indefinite detention. I resist drone spying. I resist NSA spying.
I don’t ask for much. I just want to live free. So I stand on principle and walk along the path to liberty – every issue, every time, no exceptions, no excuses.
Thanks for taking a stand Sen. Feingold. May I demonstrate that same kind of courage in my life.