NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — While the rights Americans enjoy in the Constitution come from God, President Barack Obama is curtailing those rights, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ken.), winner of the the CPAC presidential straw poll, declared.
"Our rights are innate, they come from our Creator, and no government can take them away from us," Paul declared at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday. Nevertheless, he argued that President Obama is denying Americans those God-given rights. "We must stop this President from shredding the Constitution!"
Paul called upon "America's next generation of liberty lovers" to channel the spirit of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, who did not compromise on slavery. "For thirty years, Garrison stood as politicians whimpered and compromised and left their fellow men in bondage … he rose above those politicians that would leave the country half free, half slave!" the senator declared. Paul compared the issue of slavery to the issue of privacy, declaring that freedom is more valuable than prosperity.
"We can debate a jobless recovery, an alarming debt, a bothersome and abusive regulatory state, but know this — you can't have prosperity without freedom," the senator proclaimed. He argued that liberty issues are more important than all other political issues, and that his vision of success for America is not the leadership of a Republican president, but of an administration that follows the Constitution.
The senator explained that "it isn't so much what President Obama has done," but the way in which he has done it, that violates liberty. He argued that the invasion of Libya without a declaration of war and Obama's alterations of Obamacare to exempt certain groups after the law was passed show a trend of tyrannical lawlessness. "If the executive branch can initiate war, if the executive branch can detain citizens without trial, if it can amend legislation, if it can declare that Congress is in recess, then government, unrestrained by law, becomes nothing short of tyranny!" Paul declared.
Privacy and Liberty
Paul pointed to the collection of phone records by the National Security Agency (NSA) as another example of this usurpation of power. "If you have a cell phone, you are under surveillance," he declared.
"Can a single warrant be applied to millions of Americans' phone records, emails, credit cards?" Paul asked. According to the policies of the NSA, it can, Paul said: "the government says you do not own your own records. I disagree!" The senator pointed to the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution as evidence that all Americans have a right to privacy.
"The Fourth Amendment is very clear: Warrants must be issued by a judge, warrants must be specific to the individual," and must be "based on evidence of probable cause that an individual has committed a crime." The current policy of the Obama Administration clearly violates this principle, he argued. "Generalized warrants that don't name an individual, and seek the records of millions of individuals, goes against the very fabric of the Fourth Amendment!"
The senator insisted that the Fourth Amendment is "equally as important" as the Second Amendment, which defends Americans' right to bear arms. He called on conservatives passionate about gun rights to join him in advocating for privacy rights.
Taking a Stand
"It is decidedly not a time for the faint of heart. It's a time for boldness and action," Paul declared. He cited his own actions backing up his liberty platform as evidence of what Americans must do to reclaim their country.
When Paul mentioned his 13-hour filibuster against using drones to target American citizens, the crowd erupted in a standing ovation. "Will the president refuse to rule out the droning of American citizens? I took a stand — I filibustered!"
"Some things are worth fighting for," Paul continued. "When I discovered that the NSA is collecting everyone's records, I took a stand. I sued the president," the senator said, referring to his class-action lawsuit filed against the NSA in February.
Paul won the CPAC presidential straw poll by a large margin on Saturday. He found the support of 31 percent of the 2,459 attendees who voted in the straw poll. U.S. Senator from Texas Ted Cruz came in second with 11 percent, and neurosurgeon Ben Carson won third with 9 percent. Seventy-eight percent of CPAC voters said they opposed the NSA's "use of data collection such as phone-tapping and reading of emails to combat global terrorism."
Rand Paul declared that his message "isn't a message of the haves verses the have-nots, the rich verses the poor — it's a message for anyone who wishes to own their own destiny." He concluded by saying America's exceptional character lies in its form of government: "a republic that restrains the government, not the individual."
"Your job is to maximize your liberty, so let's do it together!" Paul concluded.