When I was in college, back in the early 1980′s, I had a classmate who posted a cartoon on his door. It depicted a bedraggled couple with two children. They were standing in front of a prison cell with a sign that said, “Police State.” The caption read, “It sure looks safe in there.” Let me just say that I am a member of the Democratic Party and a supporter of President Obama. I look forward to seeing Hillary Clinton become the first woman President of the United States. With that said, I would like to voice some serious concerns that I have about the future of the United States of America.
Ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans have eagerly surrendered their Fourth Amendment rights against unwarranted search and seizure for the sake of national security. I find it perplexing that the Patriot Act passed the muster of the Supreme Court. The National Security Agency’s gathering of what is called “metadata,” alarms me. The creation of a secret court of law that reviews requests for gathering of this information brings to mind the Star Court of Henry VIII.
As Americans, we must cling to our Constitutional rights that protect us from unwarranted, arbitrary violations to our rights of privacy. There’s an old-fashioned saying, “Every man’s home is his castle.” Taking away the medieval, gender-biased nuances of this statement, I would translate it to say, “Every individual’s home, phone and online communications can not be investigated, or reviewed by legal authorities without a warrant from a public court of law.”
They say that politics makes strange bedfellows. I think Rand Paul is a thug and a cold-hearted opportunist, who seeks to manipulate a minority segment of the Republican Party in order to gain his political party’s nomination for the Presidential elections of 2016. His father is a well-documented racist and hate-monger, and apples don’t fall far from the tree. That being said, I support his class-action lawsuit against the NSA, and by proxy, against the Obama Administration.
Government intrusion into the private lives of its citizens in a thin wedge. We already live in an era, reminiscent of Venice in the 16th Century, when all one had to do was slip a person’s name into conveniently stationed boxes with the denouncement of treason. Do you realize that all you have to do is call the FBI, give a person’s name and address and denounce them as potential terrorists, and the full weight of the Justice Department will fall upon that individual’s head?
The Patriot Act is clearly unconstitutional. It is reminiscent of the Anti-Sedition Act that was passed under President Adams, America’s second President. At that time, the Supreme Court struck it down because it violated the provisions of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.
America is at a crossroad. While there is an upwelling of progressive/liberal views on issues like distribution of wealth, government intervention to create jobs, to provide assistance to the poor for food, housing and healthcare; there is a complacency on the political left to look the other way when it comes to our Constitutional Rights for protection against search and seizure. I have mixed feelings about Edward Snowden. On one hand, he blew the whistle on the extent of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) level of intrusion into the private lives of American citizens. On the other hand, he took an oath of secrecy. To break an oath is a serious moral breach, and it’s hard for me to get passed that. At the same time, I must give him credit for shining a much-needed light on the extent of the NSA’s UNCONSTITUTIONAL intrusion into the private lives of American citizens, and our international allies. I feel much the same way about Bradley/Chelsea Manning. Can an individual be a traitor to their country, but at the same time be a hero to that same country? It’s a complex question, made even murkier by the Constitutional nuances at play in the tug of war between national security and the rights of individuals against unwarranted search and seizure of personal information.
Has the United States already crossed the line from democracy to fascist state? My personal opinion is that we at the crossroads. We can turn to the right and become “safe and secure” under the watchful eye of a state apparatus geared to provide security to communities and individuals who are under the potential threat of terrorism. Or we can adhere to the principles of the Founding Fathers who sought to protect the citizens of this country from unwarranted government intrusion into our homes and private lives.