Glenn Greenwald and I are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but we share a common belief that those who surrender their liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve--and often get--neither liberty nor safety. We further agree that our respective political parties have both fallen down on the job of protecting liberty. So I agree completely with Glenn when he writes that:
It's long been clear that the best (and perhaps only) political hope for civil liberties in the U.S. is an alliance that transcends the standard Democrat v. GOP or left v. right dichotomies. Last night's surprising (and temporary) failure of the House to extend some of the most controversial powers of the Patriot Act -- an extension jointly championed by the House GOP leadership and the Obama White House -- perfectly illustrates why this is true.
The establishments of both political parties -- whether because of actual conviction or political calculation -- are equally devoted to the National Security State, the Surveillance State, and the endless erosions of core liberties they entail. Partisan devotees of each party generally pretend to care about such liberties only when the other party is in power -- because screaming about abuses of power confers political advantage and enables demonization of the President -- but they quickly ignore or even justify the destruction of those liberties when their own party wields power.
As regular readers know, I'm a bit dubious of the populist streak of Tea Partyism, but if they prove that they really are devoted to liberty by helping to trim the worst excesses of the Patriot Act and its ilk, I will applaud them. As Glenn observes:
At some point, the dogmatic emphasis on limited state power, not trusting the Federal Government, and individual liberties -- all staples of right-wing political propaganda, especially Tea Party sloganeering -- has to conflict with things like oversight-free federal domestic surveillance, limitless government detention powers, and impenetrable secrecy (to say nothing of exploiting state power to advance culture war aims). Not even our political culture can sustain contradictions as egregious as (a) reading reverently from the Constitution and venerating limits on federal power, and then (b) voting to vest the Federal Government with extraordinary powers of oversight-free surveillance aimed at the American people.
It's time for the Tea Party to step up to the plate and puts its money where its mouth is.