Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Republican Moderates and the Constitution



I told my good political friend last year that the best hopes of Democrats in Washington lie with the Republican moderates, especially in the Senate. I still believe that, more or less.

Tomorrow, Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), chair of the Judiciary Committee will begin a hearing on the “Wartime Executive Power and the NSA’s Surveillance Authority.” The main witness on Monday will be U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The hearing is scheduled for 9:30am EST.

The problem: According to the latest polling, 51% of Americans support the illegal wiretaps as a part of the so-called “War on Terror,” and I do not find that outlook surprising. After all the flag is waving very high these days and the Administration keeps reminding Americans of that: It’s code Orange people.

According to Kermit L. Hall, a constitutional law scholar and legal historian, Americans have always revealed a paradox towards civil liberties and civil rights. According to Hall surveys have historically shown that when Americans are offered the choice between quite specific libertarian and anti-libertarian choices they tend to select the more “pro government intrusive” options. So as it’s playing out right now, by a narrow margin, Americans agree that it does not matter what civil rights are violated as long as we get those “bastards.” After all if the ones whose constitutional rights have been violated are innocent what are they afraid of? Screw the Bill of Rights, is the mentality of many Americans; it’s war.

Let’s hope moderate Republicans take a stand on this issue for the sake of our Republic as envisioned by the Founding Fathers; the Fourth Amendment is quite clear.

Update: To read (PDF) the AP/Ipsos Poll Click Here.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, in my view it's quite easy to manipulate the electorate, especialy the regular type, dare I say, "Joe six-pack" Republicans. They tend to be not too political and are willing to go along with Bush when it comes to national defense. They adhere to a "protect us" mentality. I just wish they knew the rest of the story.

Leo Naudin
San Diego, Calif.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Malcolm said...

Perhaps a small majority of the American citizenry does support the specific practice of wiretapping, but the issue at hand is - was the executive right to cut the legislature out of the decision? How is the citizenry meant to express its support if their trusted representatives are deliberately kept unaware of these policies? What happens next time such an issue arises (perhaps it already has...). If there is no respect for the letter of the law, what's a legislature for?

4:35 PM  

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