The Clare Spark Blog

March 9, 2013

Feel no pain: Rand Paul’s secret weapon

scaryangrybearThis blog is about the reasons that Rand Paul’s filibuster regarding “drone attacks” upon American soil garnered approval from individuals and pundits who may not themselves be isolationists. My thesis is that we tend to repress scary events and influences, thus providing receptiveness to anyone who proposes that we are in danger of sudden annihilation out of the sky or from trusted family members and their surrogates in the political world.

Here are some stressors. Some are recent, others are ongoing, but all of them prepare the soil for panic and paranoia: North Korea/Iranian nuclear threat, internal jihadists, 9-11, Obamacare: its cost, rationing, and “death panels,” ongoing nuclear threat leftover from the Cold War, uncertain economic future, growth of the federal government under the Democratic Party that backs off from American superpower status (making us vulnerable to internal subversion), culture war angst, the pervasive rhetoric of family while stigmatizing the “individual” as destroyer of family harmony.

(Note that the pervasive rhetoric of family in all political propaganda and advertising reinstates the parents as controlling the now infantilized “children”—even as we are mature adults. This is one cause of regression, making us ever more dependent on “leaders” or “celebrities” who do our thinking and feeling for us. And we dare not confront these “Good Kings,” for it is their anodyne that protects us from wild animals, the “nanny state”, alien invaders, and any and all sinister forces.)

It is possible that Rand Paul’s filibuster was a relief to those who feel helpless in the face of all these unresolved and perhaps unresolvable stressors (I’m thinking of parents and siblings who may or may not have been bullies). While some dismiss Rand Paul’s “stunt,” here was a surrogate action for our helpless selves, standing up to Eric Holder, and demanding an unequivocal answer regarding the safety of loyal Americans.


My own views are contained here, and are supplemented by fine, well-researched guest blogs by Tom Nichols (an authority on international relations, nuclear threats, and war) and Phillip Smyth (a researcher specializing in Mid-East conflicts and neo-isolationism on the American Right). See My blogs note the ongoing influence of such isolationists as Charles Lindbergh, and the presence of American First members or sympathizers in the sociology that followed the trauma of World War 2, and that have affected the programming of “alternative media.” It should be noted also that two of Joseph McCarthy’s most prominent enemies were active in establishing community radio: I refer to Paul G. Hoffman and William Benton. See


  1. Clare, I’m also to give credit to those liberals who supported Paul (some of them more strongly than I would have, being the kind of establishment guy I am), who may just be fed up trying to square the circle of the administration’s liberal rhetoric with its conservative policies. I feel like I’m kind of reliving the 1990s, when conservatives hated on Clinton personally, but quietly among themselves had to agree that most of the policies he was pursuing — budgetary restraint, welfare reform, NATO-led interventionism — were all things they would have done themselves. The people who were the most nonplussed during the 1990s were, I suppose, people like Al Gore and even Hillary herself, who were shoved into the background and told to drop their left-leaning ideas about BTU taxes and single-payer health care. I think the same thing is happening now, and the main thing that has changed is this: the election is safely over. Self-described progressives can now let loose a primal yawp of anger and frustration at an administration that, at least in foreign policy, has gone further than even Dick Cheney tried to go. (Liberals like Dowd wonder why Cheney seems so rancidly angry. If I’d been portrayed as Satanic for 8 years, and then seen all of my policies carried on even further, I’d be angry too.)

    Comment by Tom Nichols — March 9, 2013 @ 11:11 pm | Reply

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