Republicrats

>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.

Presented by

Wendy Kaminer is an author, lawyer, and civil libertarian. She is the author of I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in National

From This Author

Just In