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NEW YORK (
TheStreet) -- Sen. Rand Paul's (R., Ky.) filibuster to smoke out the administration's position about using drones on U.S. soil was a principled act: He was defending Americans' right to due process of law in face of the sovereign monopoly on the use of force.
Yet the episode demonstrated why Republicans face difficulties establishing their party as a defender of personal liberty and wining national elections.
The administration could offer no justification, other than expediency, why Americans on U.S. soil, who may be illegally conspiring with terrorists but posing no eminent threat, should not be arrested and tried in a court of law instead of being killed by executive order through a robotic device.
But Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, without offering any better reason, chided Sen. Paul and denied Republicans the opportunity to establish the GOP as the assured defender of every American's right to security of person and protection from arbitrary government violence -- something President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder seem hesitant to embrace or understand.
On immigration, contraception, gay rights and other social issues, President Obama's positions are also premised on expediency -- maintaining a Democratic coalition of minorities, women and gays -- with little respect for the rule of law or constitutionally guaranteed liberties. Yet, over and over again, Republicans come up short and fragmented in their responses.
Some plan must be devised to deal with the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Deporting all or most would cripple the U.S. economy and after countenancing their presence and practical contributions to our society for so many years. And failing to offer some pathway to legitimacy and forcing them permanently into the shadows and denied legal protections violates basic human rights the U.S. has espoused and defended at home and abroad for generations.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and other Republicans are correct to condition enactment of such a naturalization process to finally securing U.S. borders.
President Obama's opposition to guaranteed border security in exchange for a pathway to citizenship is nothing less than political expediency in his quest of Hispanic votes -- this at the expense of restoring rule of law to U.S. immigration policy, protecting American workers from unfair competition from illegal immigrants working in exploitative conditions, and ensuring the problem of millions of illegal immigrants does not reemerge 10 or 20 years from now.