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>On some days (and this is one of them) I strive to convince myself that voting is a worthwhile endeavor and there are important differences between a government controlled by Democrats and one controlled by Republicans.  I don't know quite what to tell myself today, listening to Democratic Senator Dick Durban dismiss the threat to liberty of biometric ID cards for all American workers by comparing them to airport security rules requiring us to take our shoes off.  Durban is a smart man who must think the rest of us are pretty stupid to believe that submitting our fingerprints to an FBI data base as a condition of employment violates our privacy, along with our rights to work, no more than walking barefoot through a scanner.  And I suppose we might take heart from this desperate effort to assure us that a national ID card requirement (included in proposed immigration reforms) is nothing new and nothing to fear.  We can infer from his disingenuousness a suspicion that Americans still care about liberty.
   
At least, they care about their own liberties, without necessarily recognizing that their rights are largely defined by the rights they extend to others.  I don't expect many "freedom loving" right-wingers and Tea Partiers to oppose gross Fourth Amendment violations practically required by Arizona's horrendous new anti-immigrant law.  But I retain some hope that people who support authoritarian measures directed against others will resist submitting to similar measures themselves.
   
I find it harder to retain any hope that Barack Obama will be more protective of civil liberty than George W. Bush.  I won't linger here describing what has already been documented -- Obama's adoption and extension of Bush/Cheney counter-terrorism policies, from the state secrets rule to the indictment of a whistleblower who exposed gross mismanagement at the NSA, to the assumption of executive authority to order the assassination of an American citizen (the subject of frighteningly little controversy).  I'll simply add to the list Obama's decision to join anti-libertarian right-wingers in spuriously condemning the "judicial activism" of Supreme Court decisions defending our rights and liberties.  I second Glenn Greenwald's analysis of this, and I wonder why I bother voting.

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Wendy Kaminer is an author, lawyer, and civil libertarian. She is the author of I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional, and a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. More

Wendy Kaminer is a lawyer and social critic who has been a contributing editor of The Atlantic since 1991. She writes about law, liberty, feminism, religion and popular culture and has written eight books, including Worst InstinctsFree for All; Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials; and I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional. Kaminer worked as a staff attorney in the New York Legal Aid Society and in the New York City Mayor's Office and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993. She is a renowned contrarian who has tackled the issues of censorship and pornography, feminism, pop psychology, gender roles and identities, crime and the criminal-justice system, and gun control. Her articles and reviews have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The American Prospect, Dissent, The Nation, The Wilson Quarterly, Free Inquiry, and spiked-online.com. Her commentaries have aired on National Public Radio. She serves on the board of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the advisory boards of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the Secular Coalition for America, and is a member of the Massachusetts State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

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