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I sometimes hear those that support big government and the actions our government takes like the NSA’s electronic eavesdropping, which is in violation of the 4th amendment by the way, as being somehow justified. They argue that “We the People” elected them to do a job protecting this country and their actions are only those serving the best interests of the citizens.
I recall the recent Republican debate where Chris Christie and Rand Paul opposed each other vigorously regarding surveillance and warrants. Paul continually shouting over Christie saying “get a warrant”, “get a warrant!” It made for good theatrics at the debate if not also illustrating a rift within the Republican party. It became very obvious to me that Christie fully believed the ends justified the means and he would not have a problem with America acting a little more like a police state to keep us “safe.” Christie I am sure is not alone in that belief. I believe Trump, Bush, Fiorina, Rubio, and probably a few others on the stage that night would have agreed with him. If many of the leading Republican candidates for President are willing to look the other way when it comes to the law to protect us and we know the Democrats are openly willing to re-interpret and change policy in violations of the laws what hope is there for our form of government to survive?
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
It was only after the revelations by Edward Snowden, the NSA whistle-blower, and traitor to some, that the American citizens started to really wake up and realize what their government has been doing for a while now all in the name of keeping us “safe” and “secure.” At least that’s what they tell us anyway. My question however is who keeps us safe from them? We are led to believe that a small court of judges, the FISA court protects our 4th amendment rights from abuse. A secret court whose rulings are never questioned and seldom reversed and who are not directly accountable to the people. My conservative side wants to believe they will respect the law and not abuse the citizens however my libertarian side says why should we trust them when they have shown utter contempt for the law in the past and for the rights of the citizens of this country? We are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty but our government’s actions since 9/11 turn that notion on its head.
We must not destroy the fabric of freedom and democracy by taking overt un-constitutional and very un-democratic actions to protect it. We risk becoming that which we are supposed to be protecting against. These big government types want to prevent terrorism and violence against our people by routinely violating the individual rights of citizens. Does that make sense to anyone? I mean solitary confinement in a prison is about the safest place a person can be but I don’t know many who would want to live in solitary by choice just to be “safe.” There has to be a balance between safety and freedom. I firmly believe the Constitution gave us that balance and the more we stray from it the more we are at risk and “unsafe”.
“Freedom is not based upon fear, however fear is used to take freedom away.”
I am afraid as more time passes from Snowden’s revelations, the more the public will forget about them and ignore the facts. After all the man on the street says if you have nothing to hide what’s the big deal. That attitude however is completely wrong and ignorant of the relationship, or contract our government has with its citizens as defined in the Constitution. Just because I have nothing to hide does not mean I want my government listening to my phone calls or spying on me. We are all presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. The burden is on the state to prove our guilt not the other way around.
Why bother obey the law at all, if our leaders can pick and choose what laws to obey and what laws to break. If they can do that why can’t we? What makes them more important or special? This country for a long time now has been moving away from the Constitutional ideas of our founders. There are those in this country in power right now that do not recognize natural rights or individual rights and therefore by default reject the Constitutions’s protections of those rights. They believe rights are granted by men and subject to change by men and not by God. If that is the case and the only authority is men in power willing to use force to back up their positions then we are in trouble. This is a rejection of the founding father’s core philosophy and a move back in the direction of despotism.
There is also this illusion that those in government try to maintain and sell to those not paying attention, that they the “elected” actually care what we think about, after the elections are over. Once elected these “public servants” act as if our opinions don’t matter anymore until the next election cycle. They act as if they only feedback the citizens have in this country is the election itself and once over we are just supposed to sit back in our safe and cozy stupor, and put our blind faith, trust and allegiance in the elected that they will do the job. We now know that this is not true and that they don’t trust the American people and spy on them regularly, or they use the power of the federal government to abuse political opponents. They also don’t put the public interest ahead of themselves but frequently act in self-interest like the Clintons. They are also influenced by wealthy people like Donald Trump for example or George Soros.
Lastly these representatives cannot do the job by themselves so they hire un-elected and largely unaccountable people to fill positions in government. These “bureaucratic minnions” are not answerable to the American people and only to those elected representatives who as we already mentioned are not very accountable to We the People after elections. A person once employed by the Federal Government is so protected by unions that they have to really screw up to get fired. Instead when they do screw up they are often transferred or promoted. I have spoken with many current and former federal employees who would confirm this.
I believe if we are to change the course of this country we need to re-visit the idea that our elected officials and “public servants” must reflect the will of the citizens and they should not be permitted to stay in office for a lifetime. I believe term limits for elected officials and un-elected bureaucrats is necessary and appropriate. We need citizen-representatives with the emphasis that they are citizens first and foremost and not career representatives. We need citizen civil servants and not career civil servants who sponge off the American taxpayer for a lifetime never producing anything in the private sector. The public interest is not best served by having the same people in charge for decades anyway. The White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, and the bureaucrats running the Administrative State must all be answerable to the people with consequences for breaches of faith.
Voting is not our only civic responsibility. We must be actively engaged in the politics of our nation and acquainted with our representatives and their actions. We cannot afford to blindly vote D or R ever election without looking at the man or women representing us and their track record of accomplishments and voting record. We must act as if every election is a matter of life and death because it is, so we must do our part.
“The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” -Justice Louis Brandeis
Our nation is being twisted and turned upside down by elements hell bent on its destruction and re-birth as a socialist, welfare dependent country. We have to take it back peacefully soon, or we just might not be able to do so without fighting and spilling blood to get back what we so willingly gave up to be “safe and secure.”
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Is the global war on terror also an assault on personal liberty and the U.S. Constitution?
Keen observers of history will note that our leaders in government have with great success at various times of crisis convinced the American people that in order to stay “safe” and have a certain level of security and piece of mind, their individual rights must be sacrificed. In those cases the Constitution is completely ignored or trampled upon. Some poignant examples come to mind, Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War and FDR’s internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War.
The pattern is the same. A flagrant disregard for the rights of the individual citizen and usurpation of power or authority usually proceeded by some great tragedy or perceived threat. In the 21st century we are told the war on terror provides justification for these violations and require us to re-think the law for our own good to “protect” us from the grave dangers we face.
- NSA warrantless intercepted electronic and telephone communications….direct violation of the 4th Amendment
- Targeted assassinations of US citizens identified as “Terrorists” overseas…direct violation of the 5th & 6th Amendments
- Drones obtrusively observing citizens from above our cities…..direct violation of the 4th Amendment
- Indefinite detentions without trial…. direct violation of the 5th Amendment
- Illegal searches of homes and property for entire city blocks as in the case of the Boston bombing….direct violation of the 4th Amendment.
The danger lies in this. We have placed our trust in representative government to do its job and put people by election in positions of power and authority that will not subvert the process for their own personal gain. We have placed our faith in that they know what they are doing and have respect for the Constitution and will when the crisis has been averted resume the role of guardians of the system and restore the rights of American citizens. In today’s modern bureaucrat’s mind however, he believes he knows what is best for the country and its citizens and will not give up any new found powers granted to him. Once power or authority is co-opted or willingly surrendered to the State it is rarely relinquished without a fight. A fight that usually ends up very bloody.