Momentum. It’s the watchword of the week for Senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul.
Last night, Senator Paul and a small group of watchful Republicans of a libertarian bent forced the expiration of key provisions of the PATRIOT Act. Specifically, the NSA’s bulk data collection program that bristled privacy advocates. Paul explains in his editorial for USA Today:
Congress will this week force the president to end his illegal collection of all American phone records. This is a victory for defenders of privacy.
The Fourth Amendment requires that government searches be individualized. Collecting all Americans’ phone records all the time indiscriminately is what our Founders fought against when they objected to general warrants.
Some will ask: But how will we catch terrorists without this program? My reply: with the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment allows probing searches as long as the request is for an individual’s records and as long as there is probable cause of a crime.
There are those now working to diminish Paul’s victory as essentially a political stunt focused on the presidential campaign. To which Paul responded by releasing a new presidential campaign ad:
There have been a massive amount of new stories dedicated to Paul’s victory over the NSA today.
Many news reporters covering for the government’s expansion of the security state appear to be missing a much bigger point. The unpopularity of mass surveillance remains a bipartisan issue for voters. His recent theatrics have actually done him a great deal of good by elevating his visibility:
According to a new study, mentions of Paul on social media sites increased by 134 percent in the second half of May – during which time he filibustered the Patriot Act for 11 hours on May 20th, eventually pushing the expiration of surveillance programs he deems unconstitutional.
George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management and Zignal Labs partnered to create the Public Echoes Of Rhetoric In America (PEORIA) Project, which studies how voters are reacting to campaign messages from formal candidates and potential candidates. The study highlights the candidates that are getting the most traction on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.
Paul’s filibuster on the Senate floor grew his social media presence that day to 50,000 mentions. Those 50,000 mentions in just one day were more mentions than Paul had on social media during the previous week.
In just the last week of May alone, Paul was mentioned on social media more than any other GOP presidential candidate.
Taking a smart page from his father’s presidential aspirations, Paul has done immensely well at talking past reporters directly to the concerns of voters.
However if history is any indicator, there will now be renewed efforts to sideline and shut up the Senator.