Without a doubt, Wednesday belonged to Rand Paul. The Republican senator stood his ground on the floor of the Senate for almost 13 hours, and he was supported by several of his colleagues.
While I don’t want to take anything away from Senator Paul - his stand for civil liberties was both courageous and heroic - there’s another senator due some recognition. Ron Wyden was the only Democrat willing to join Paul in support of liberty.
I’ve been in Republican politics long enough to know that when one guy abandons the team - even if in a move to do what’s right, he’s treated as an outcast. He loses the good committee appointments. People rally to find a candidate to challenge the traitor in a primary election. He gets tagged as being not a “real” Republican - a “RINO,” if you will - and it takes a lot of time before people in the party forget or forgive his betrayal.
Rand’s filibuster on Wednesday was as a member of the minority party. Yes, he was doing the right thing, but he didn’t have to go against his own party and his own leadership in the Senate or against his own president to make his stand. (To be fair, I’m convinced that Paul would have made his stand no matter the circumstances.)
Every senator who came to Paul’s side on Wednesday was a Republican who could vocally oppose a president and his appointments without fear of punishment from his leadership. Every senator, that is, except Ron Wyden.
Stepping forward to stand with Rand Paul was no easy decision for Wyden. Party politics can be a tough game to play, but when the pressure was on and the decision had to be made, Wyden took a stand with a small minority and against his own party for what is right.