A filibuster unlike any other…

On March 6th, at 11:47am EST, Senator Rand Paul of the Commonwealth of Kentucky began speaking on the floor of the Senate chamber in Washington, DC. The chamber was in session preparing to vote on the nomination of John Brennan to the post of CIA Director when Sen. Paul began his filibuster.

If you don’t know what that is, it’s ok. It doesn’t happen very often, and it really doesn’t happen very often in the way Sen. Paul conducted his, namely because he was trying to bring a debate about drone use on US soil to the national attention.

Defined simply, a filibuster is a form of procedure in a parliamentary setting where one or more members can delay actions within the body, generally votes or nominations. With this example in the US Senate, Sen. Paul could speak for as long as he possibly can without yielding the floor to anyone, unless the opposition has 3/5 of the Senate sworn to invoke cloture and end the filibuster. There are other ways to end a filibuster, but they are rarely (if ever) used.

Senator Paul cannot sit once his filibuster begins. He cannot use any electronics on the floor. He is often speaking to no one but himself and the folks working in the chamber, meaning no other Senators are present. This is an incredibly arduous process, and it requires the speaker to be very engaged.

The longest filibuster ever was from Senator Strom Thurmond when he filibustered the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT of 1957. Ironic, no?

What makes Senator Paul’s filibuster different? He stayed on message. Often times, filibustering politicians will read random texts to keep their filibuster going. Cookbooks, laws, dictionaries, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, phone books, voting laws, and much more have been used to keep a filibuster going. Instead of this, Senator Paul spent his time reading from articles related to the issue of civil liberties in these United States, specifically as it relates to the potential use of drones against citizens of the nation.

As I write, it’s still ongoing. Ten hours later, Senator Rand Paul of the Commonwealth of Kentucky takes the reins on civil liberties and unites many Democrats, Conservatives, Anarchists, Left-Wingers, Republicans, and people in between to find common ground on one key issue: our government can’t kill us without doing a little more work than flying an unmanned plane and dropping a bomb on us.

They’d rather take care of you in the hospital.


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