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.
Every political issue that captures the public attention invariably degenerates into a political battle between the two parties. This is a clear indicator that republicans and democrats see every issue as being all about them rather than having anything to do with “what’s best for the country”. This is true even when their differences are microscopically small, as is it usually is when it comes to war, increasing government power, drug policy, being “tough on crime”, pork barrel spending, balancing the budget, corporate welfare, interfering in other countries, foreign aid, support for Israel, etc, etc.
So, when democrats complain about what a republican does, it makes perfect sense when their concerns suddenly evaporate when a democratic president does exactly the same things. It’s not about what they do; it’s only about which team they’re on.
The journalist Glenn Greenwald, who jump-started this overdue conversation on civil liberties and the war on terrorism, has promised that the revelations are just getting started. But nothing that comes out can be more dispiriting than the simple truth that Democrats and Republicans are both happy to love Big Brother as long as he’s got the right party affiliation.
Maybe are catching on to this an that’s why Americans want more independents in Congress.