Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Very Strange Bedfellows

Trey Smith

If you pay any attention to the news, you know that John Boehner, Michele Bachmann, Eric Cantor, Darrell Issa and Paul Ryan are leading Republican congresspeople who rarely, if ever, have a good thing to say about President Barack Obama. On so many issues, these members of the GOP and others deride the president for being out-of-touch or out-of-step with the American people.  Some of them have even hinted that Obama is a socialist or, at least, a typical tax-and-spend liberal.

Yes, these leading conservatives are completely unable to find common ground with this nation's first black president...except when it comes to war and spying.  Bring up those two issues and you can find the aforementioned Republicans sitting around a campfire with Barack singing Kumbaya!

As has been noted before in this space, President Obama had to look to the leadership of -- not his own party -- but the Republicans to beat back an attempt to place some constraints on one NSA spying program.  Only 40 percent of the members of his own party sided with him, while his policy position was successful due to nearly 60 percent of Republicans backing up him up. 

Did you ever think the day would come when Michele Bachmann would be lauding the president?  (Me neither.)

But that wasn't the only telling aspect of this historic vote.  Jan Schakowsky of Illinois -- considered by many to be one of the most progressive members of Congress -- cast her vote to allow the NSA to continue to spy on Americans suspected of no wrongdoing.  So too did Marcy Kaptur, the woman who defeated Dennis Kucinich during 2012 in a race between two liberal Democrats forced to face off in a gerrymandered district primary.

When it comes to violating the constitutional rights of the people they ostensibly serve, we increasingly are seeing very, very strange political bedfellows.


Conor Friedersdorf has some advice in terms of this vote.  If you consider yourself a progressive, I hope you take it!
Is it appropriate in a free society for government to hoover up and store as much information on everyone as possible? Or should government only spy on Americans reasonably suspected of wrongdoing? Thanks to Tuesday's vote, which wouldn't have happened without Edward Snowden's leaks, voters now have their elected representatives on record about where they stand.

That is a vital thing in a democracy! Don't like the position they've taken? The next election is coming up in 2014. Personally, I'd like to see every last elected official who voted against this attempted reform ousted from office. I don't care if they're beat by primary challengers or in a general election. It seems to me that the American people should send a message to the NSA apologists: The U.S. has managed to flourish for decades without spying on all its citizens, and it should continue to do so. (emphasis mine)

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