Part of what made this a signal event was that this was no pro forma type filibuster of the modern school, in which the Senator merely has to make known his or her intention to filibuster, but not actually get up there and speak. This was the real thing, and it was substantive. The Senate actually debated an important policy matter in the old style, with references to Shakespeare, and rhetorical flourishes the like of which we haven’t seen in many years. It was, in short, a paleo moment – and, politically, it was the Libertarian Moment, i.e. that moment in which a substantial body of Americans was rooting for a champion of liberty against the puffed-up conceit and criminal depredations of an overweening federal government.
What was significant about the presence of so many Republicans rushing to the Senate floor to get in on the action was that they felt compelled to do so. The wind is blowing in the direction of libertarianism – and not just on the economic front, but in the foreign policy and civil liberties realm as well.
What we are seeing is a seismic shift in the two parties’ approach to civil liberties, with the Democrats now freed to exude their inherent authoritarianism and the Republican grassroots in fear of a federal government headed up by a former “community organizer.”