Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

How Barack Obama can get his momentum back: talk about privacy

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Originally published on on Wed, 08/20/2008 – 9:34am

I have been talking this week about the neglected topics of the 2008 presidential campaign. So far, I have mentioned education and health care, two topics where Obama stands head and shoulders above McCain, yet the topics haven’t seen much light.

But today’s topic is one where it isn’t clear where both candidates stand: the Fourth Amendment.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The idea that in 2008, we need a discussion on privacy and the Fourth Amendment is beyond outrageous. We grew up in school learning and believing in the Constitution, but especially the Bill of Rights. The Eighth Amendment has taken a cruel and unusual beating from the Supreme Court. We know the Second Amendment is thriving, thanks to questionable interpretations designed to lead to more murders in our nation’s urban areas. And you haven’t had to stow away any military personnel lately, so the Third Amendment is in good shape.

But we know where the candidates stand on the Second Amendment and the Eighth Amendment. We have a good idea of the Supreme Court justices they will pick.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen where the President can take the Fourth Amendment and the abuses it can suffer. So we need a discussion on privacy, but also broadening it out to display how we can have privacy and still “fight terrorism.”

There was a point, it didn’t seem too long ago, where the world looked upon our justice system and declared it the best in the world. For accused criminals, there needed to be proof they may have committed a crime, and evidence had to be collected carefully. So it seemed that if someone was found guilty, that person pretty much was guilty.

The perception is that 9/11 changed this, but in reality, it was Bush and Cheney ready for an opportunity to inflict such damage to our way of life.

Now it should be obvious where the Democratic Party candidate stands on the Fourth Amendment: protect Americans’ privacy and only investigate someone where there is proof. But given Obama’s vote on FISA, we’re not sure what to believe.

If Democrats are scared (PATRIOT Act, FISA, etc.) into voting to get rid of our rights over “possible terrorist attacks,” then a Democrat, even if it’s Obama, needs to show us that we can have privacy and protection from terrorists.

If necessary, the words of Benjamin Franklin need to ring out: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

It’s not just the Federal government that is spying on you. In the Washington, DC area, “Authorities plan to install about 200 automated license plate readers on police vehicles and alongside roads in the Washington area to thwart potential terrorist attacks, dramatically expanding the use of a high-tech tool previously aimed at parking scofflaws and car thieves.

The move is part of a federal homeland security grant, so the outrage is that our tax money is being spent to take away our privacy rights.

Then there is the story from New York City where they want to keep track of all drivers in Manhattan. Probable cause? Did probable cause disappear overnight?

Ironically, many people who call themselves conservative and who fear government’s intrusions (e.g., Michigan Militia) voted for Bush and Cheney, who took away their privacy. Would they vote for John McCain if there was a contrast between the two major party candidates on privacy? They might not if they could see there was a difference on privacy between Obama and McCain.

It could be a gamble to bring this topic up, given how much the MSM tries to scare us. But I guarantee that many voters, conservative and liberal together, would applaud if a presidential candidate considered privacy an important right for all Americans. Since that person won’t be McCain, the opening is there for Obama. But he has to believe in it.


Written by democracysoup

August 20, 2008 at 9:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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