I've got a new column up at The Daily Beast about how Democrats and Republicans can both love Big Brother if he's got the right party affiliation. Snippets:
In the first flush of stories about how the National Security Agency is surveilling American citizens, one stomach-turning revelation hasn't gotten the attention it deserves: We get the surveillance state we deserve because rank political partisanship trumps bedrock principle every goddamn time on just about every goddamn issue….
As my colleague Mike Riggs pointed out yesterday, GOP and Dem attitudes toward NSA-style surveillance change depending on who's running the government.
After cataloguing the extent of partisanship's role in debates over civil liberties, I conclude that
the only place from where actual relief from an ever-bigger, ever-more-intrusive surveillance state is going to come: Oddball, ad hoc coalitions formed not by party apparatchiks but by rogue elements that somehow sneak into power and are buoyed by the plurality of Americans who refuse to be cowed by party politics. It is characters such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and Jason Chaffetz (R-Colo Utah) who are lobbying for more government transparency, accountability, and restraint.
This crew has virtually nothing in common other than an inspiring streak of ideological independence that mirrors the plurality of American voters. (Paul, who has co-sponsored legislation with Wyden, did not even thank the Republican Party on Election Night in 2012, choosing instead to thank the "Tea Party"). They will doubtless find themselves on different sides of the barricades when it comes to questions of taxes, regulation, and spending. But it is impossible to imagine any of them shifting their positions on ubiquitous surveillance of Americans or kill lists or torture simply based on which party controls the White House or Congress. Which, sad to say, is a relief in the current political climate. And the reason their efforts deserve not just our sincere thanks but our vocal support.