Rand Paul focuses on Constitution, civil liberties in CPAC speech

Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) offered a stark contrast from other speakers this afternoon at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). While many of the day’s speeches focused on the contentious relationship between the establishment and the grassroots or social issues, the libertarian-leaning Republican focused the Constitution and civil liberties that are being withered away due to an overreaching president and administration.

“Imagine a time when our great country is again governed by the Constitution. Imagine a time when the White House is once again occupied by a friend of liberty,” Paul told attendees. “Now, you may think I’m talking about electing Republicans. I’m not. I’m talking about electing lovers of liberty.”

“It isn’t good enough to pick the lesser of two evils. We must elect men and women of principle and conviction and action who will lead us back to greatness,” he said. “There is a great and tumultuous battle underway for the future, not of the Republican Party, but the future of the entire country. The question is, will we be bold and proclaim our message with passion, or will we be sunshine patriots retreating under adverse fire?”

Paul turned to the some of the most controversial policies of the last several years, including the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs and indefinite detention, telling the crowd that the Sons of the Liberty, patriots of the American revolution, would “make a bonfire of secret orders issued by police.”

“The Sons of Liberty risked everything to guarantee your right to a trial by jury,” said Paul. “They would today call out to the President, they would say, ‘We will not be detained, spied upon, nor have our rights abridged. We will not submit, and we will not trade our liberties for security — not now, not ever.’”

The crowd was overwhelmingly receptive to the red meat being thrown to them, frequently forcing Paul to pause for applause and cheers. The Kentucky Republican, who, along with FreedomWorks, has filed a lawsuit against the NSA, continued discussing the controversial surveillance programs and Fourth Amendment protections.

“[A]s our voices rise in protest, the NSA monitors your every phone call. If you have a cell phone, you are under surveillance,” Paul explained. “I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business.”

Though he heavily criticized President Barack Obama and his administration and pledge to challenge him when he infringed upon constitutional liberties, Paul also challenged CPAC attendees to not get lost in trying to “clutch” at liberties we have left.

“America’s greatness, America’s exceptional character is not in our DNA. But it’s in a Republic. It’s in our founding document. It’s in a Republic that for the first time in history rewards all individuals, regardless of birth, gender, ethnicity. It’s in a Republic that restrains the government, not the individual,” said Paul. “Your task is not to minimize the loss of freedom, not to clutch at what we’ve got left. Your job is to maximize your liberty.”

Paul used himself as an example, pointing his 13-hour filibuster, the anniversary of which was yesterday, and the lawsuit against the NSA, and closed by encouraging CPAC attendees to “stand together for liberty.”

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