So Pew Research recently released a study that showed that the majority of Americans are fine with the Surveillance State. Post 9/11, we’ve been a frightened people willing to give up our most precious Civil Liberties for the false promise of security. You can see with the espionage agencies sifting through phone records without probable cause and you can see it in NYC’s infamous Stop and Frisk program. There’s no limit to the rights we apparently have to give up in order for the government to “keep us safe.” Who cares if the rationales are faulty and the methods are ineffective. But the most upsetting part of the of the study comes later, when we look at the partisan shift.
Let’s start with Conservatives. Back in 2006, when the Notorious GWB was in power, 75% of Republicans were totally fine with NSA surveillance programs. According to this group, to even debate the merits of legislation like the Patriot Act was tantamount putting an I HEART AL-QAEDA bumper sticker on your pick-up truck. Fast-forward seven years and lo and behold, now that President Obama is in office, suddenly only 52% of Republicans think such programs are OK. It’s almost as if they don’t actually have any principles and their stances on the policy matters are more informed by animus towards their opponents. That’s why when former Bush administration officials talk about the Executive Branch overstepping its authority, it’s hard not to laugh. But if you think this chart looks bad for conservatives, it’s even worse for liberals.
Back in 2006, liberals were quite against NSA surveillance programs to the tune of 61%. Only 37% of self-styled Democrats thought the programs were acceptable. I remember protests and liberals making their rounds on the punditry circuit talking about how the 4th Amendment was being shredded by the Bush administration. Once again, fast-forward a short seven years and now that our guy is in charge, suddenly everything is fine. Here’s a newsflash: If a series of programs were wrong-headed under the previous Republican administration, they don’t become magically right because President Obama uses them. God you people are disappointing!
I’m skipping “Independents” because I don’t believe in them — although the similar horizontal flip in those numbers is interesting as well.
I realize this isn’t entirely apples to apples comparison. A lot of this surveillance state stuff has been codified into law. So much so that people seem OK with the fact that the NSA and other espionage organizations they’ve never heard of actually do such things. Ben Franklin once famously said “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” Clearly we didn’t get the message. But what’s even worse is this whole our-guy-does-it-so-it’s-OK and our-enemies-are-doing-it-so-it’s-a-threat-to-democracy has got to stop.
To sum up, people suck. And judging by the chart above, that’s a sentiment that I think I can make entirely bipartisan.
Categories: Politics Fix