I Was There

By Danny Lewis

Where were you when three provisions of the “Patriot” Act expired? On Sunday, May 31, approximately sixty liberty lovers showed up to the United States Capitol with red “Stand With Rand” t-shirts to silently protest reauthorization of the so-called “Patriot” Act; I am proud to say that I was one of them.

It was my first time ever witnessing a Senate session from the actual Senate Chamber. Shortly after we started to pour in, Senator Rand Paul requested the remaining five minutes of the “Patriot” Act opposition floor time to speak. Senator John McCain tried to object to it, although it was time that was already agreed to, so he had no grounds for his objection. Eventually, Senator Paul finally was able to speak.

Senator Paul projected his voice to the gallery and started out with “Let us be clear why we are here this evening.”  The moment of this speech that struck me the most was when Senator Paul stated, “we are not collecting the information of spies. We are not collecting the information of terrorists. We are collecting all American citizens’ records all of the time. This is what we fought the revolution over. Are we going to so blithely give up our freedom? Are we going to so blithely go along and say take it? Well, I’m not going to take it anymore. I don’t think the American people are going to take it anymore.” This five minute speech might have been the greatest speech I have ever heard. It was so beautiful to hear someone fighting for our liberties that I had to hold back a tear in my eye. It gives me satisfaction to know that we are not alone. Although there are not many, there are people in Congress that actually do care about the citizens they serve and that five minute speech was proof of it. It was also the first time I saw Senator Paul in person and it was the perfect time.

Later in the evening, Senator Mitch McConnell tried to make one final motion to extend the “Patriot” Act. Just like the Saturday before, Senator Paul uttered the words “I Object!”  And it was at this moment that we knew these “Patriot” Act provisions would expire. This was a historical moment and I was one of the few people actually there to see it in person. What makes it even more amazing, is that one man stood alone and temporarily killed these “Patriot” Act provisions despite the opposition from everyone else.

Unfortunately the freedom we gained from the expiration would be short lived, as just two days later, 67 Senators voted for the so-called USA “FREEDOM” Act, which was signed by the President on June 3. Many other liberty lovers I have talked to have given the USA “FREEDOM” Act the nickname “Patriot Act-Light.” None of this diminished the significance of that brief expiration, though.

Most people do not have the pleasure of being able to say they were in the United States Senate Gallery when there was a meeting in session. I however, now can cross that off of my bucket list. My experience at the Senate is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. I will also remember that I was there the night that Senator Rand Paul blocked the reauthorization of these “Patriot” Act provisions, and that as an Intern for Campaign for Liberty, I played a part in letting the Senate know that, far from standing alone, Senator Paul was standing with a liberty r3VOLution.

I may be in Washington, D.C. for a short amount of time, but I have a feeling there will be many more opportunities for me to be there for the action at the Capitol. I joined a network of people that love liberty as much as I do and I cannot wait until our next effort to make sure that liberty is victorious in the United States of America.


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