More Than Some Overdue Library Books

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Kudos to Rand Paul for the filibuster on domestic drone strikes. The thing we have to understand about slippery slopes is that, if you have a ripe one, it is slippery all the way down.

The first thing to note is that Rand Paul was not engaging in a mere political stunt — he was utterly sincere about it, and the issue is no trifle. There are too many legitimate concerns about our developing despotism to be cool with no recognized constitutional limits on armed predator drones overhead. And, as I have said in other contexts when explaining why the 2nd Amendment covers shoulder-mounted missiles, we need something to shoot these things down with.

Now the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone, and so on, through the whole skeleton. The potential for drone strikes on American citizens began with drone strikes on American citizens abroad, and that began with drone strikes on non-American enemy combatants, and that began with enemy combatant individuals with no defined enemy combatant state, and that began with Congress refusing to do its constitutional duty with a declaration of war on sovereign states that we intended to topple and replace. The slippery slope is slippery at the top also.

I understand the world is a messy place, and I get the fact that there are times when you cannot declare war on a sovereign state because the adversary is too nebulous. A declaration of war on a failed state like Somalia would be weird. But a declaration of war on Iraq would have been constitutional, and the way we overthrew Hussein was what thinkers of another era (lets just call them Founders) would have called unconstitutional.

Once lawlessness sets in, it is pretty hard to have controlled lawlessness, even though (especially though) that lawlessness is presided over by lawyers. Once lawlessness becomes standard procedure, it is hard to wax indignant at the other party’s use of the lawless measures that your party put in place.

Now in the spirit of understanding the messiness, I also get the fact that an American citizen can run over to the other side in a declared war and join their Navy, and that there is no need to treat him as though his was a stand-alone criminal case, while everybody else on their aircraft carrier is treated as though we were in a war. Fine. Sink the whole carrier, and if that one guy wanted the Bill of Rights to apply to him, he should have thought of that before going on board.

But having granted that, anybody who cannot see the slow, progressive slide into a global, internationalist regulatory gummint by decree is simply not paying attention. Governments derive their legitimacy through the consent of the governed, and not through the machinations of international bankers, corporate lawyers, and the empty suits that maneuver their way into Congress.

The Bill of Rights is chock-a-block with careful definitions, and it is that way for a reason. The reason is that men with power are sinful men with power, and sinful men with power needs checks on their power that they will believe to be intolerable. They will believe that anyone who would check their power in this way is the enemy of all good governance. Well, tough.

As much as I admire Rand Paul’s filibuster, we are way past the point where such things will be sufficient in themselves. There are many evangelical Christians whose closest brush with the law has involved some overdue library books. There is a godly and dutiful Christian citizenship in this, but, it must also be said, there is an element of “we, the sheeple” in it.

We desperately need to develop and articulate a theology of Christian resistance. From time to time, I will be contributing what I can.

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