Both major party presidential candidates ignore civil liberties

While they crisscross the country mouthing each other’s platitudes, with only the smallest differences between them, neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney is paying the slightest heed to civil liberties. In fact, they’re trying to outdo each other in bragging about how they’re trampling on them. 

From the president’s pushing for and signing into law the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), which codifies indefinite detention of American citizens, to his chillingly named “disposition matrix” (aka Kill List), which gives him carte blanche to kill whomever he wants, whenever he wants, with no oversight, to Romney’s embrace of torture, to both political parties’ approval of the increasing militarization of the police, to the fact that neither candidate has breathed a word about the TSA, VIPR, or any of the so-called security agencies out there, we can conclude that the current state of affairs vis-a-vis civil liberties is just fine with them.

John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute has been doing heroic work for years fighting for civil liberties, including working with Jonathan Corbett, who writes for TSA News and who himself has been battling the TSA.

Recently, Whitehead published a column called “Looking Beyond Election Day: The Issues That Threaten to Derail the Nation,” in which he outlines the major categories of civil liberties violations that both candidates are ignoring.

No matter who wins the presidential election tomorrow, don’t look for any redress of grievances in the coming years when it comes to your rights being tossed aside.

UPDATE: As if on cue, the brilliant and poetic Chris Hedges delivers his punch — fitting, since he used to be a boxer. In his latest column, he quotes Elias Canetti:

“Anyone who wants to rule men first tries to humiliate them, to trick them out of their rights and their capacity for resistance, until they are as powerless before him as animals.”

To anyone who reads this blog regularly, what does that remind you of?

(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Alan Cleaver)

  • 1amwendy

    Add my vote to the Johnson column: we need to keep sending a message that the status quo is totally unacceptable.

  • Daisiemae

    I am 58 years old. I have been a Democrat for my entire voting life. I have ALWAYS voted a straight Democratic ticket.

    That changes tomorrow. I’ll be voting for Gary Johnson for POTUS and any other Libertarian candidates available for any other office.

    For offices that don’t have a Libertarian candidate, I was thinking I would simply not vote, but Celtic Whisper’s idea of voting against the incumbent regardless of party intrigues me.

  • Fisher1949

    Both Presidents since 9/11 have been more interested in avoiding a repeat attack while they are in office than in the Constitution that they swore to defend. They will go along with whatever TSA or DHS demand no matter how intrusive, humiliating or illegal these procedures may be rather than risk any political fallout.

    Both Bush and Obama have been a disgrace and there is no indication that Romney would be be any better if he were faced with the same choice.

    Only a grass roots effort that brings pressure on the members of Congress is going to effect change of this agency.

  • CelticWhisper

    There’s only one candidate who has expressly mentioned an unequivocal intention to restrict TSA, and that is Gary Johnson.

    My voting pattern will be Gary Johnson for POTUS and anti-incumbent for all other positions, regardless of party. I’ll vote for an (L) or (G) replacement before I vote for any Republocrat, but the point is that if they’re in office now, I vote against them. Only by taking away massive numbers of Congressional jobs can we send a message to Congress that We The People are fed up and will stand for no more.

    • That’s a great strategy Celtic… for the next election. It’s too late to vote for Gary’s johnson now. He can’t win.

      • CelticWhisper

        Be that as it may, I’m going to vote for him anyway. I’ve always voted my conscience in elections, because to me it’s not about picking the winner. It’s about casting my support for the candidate who I feel is best for the nation. To me, that’s Johnson. If he doesn’t win, at least I can honestly say that I didn’t vote for the one who did (and assuming it’s Obama or Romney who wins, then either way we end up with someone I wouldn’t want to support).

      • Peter, this is a much bigger discussion than we can have here, but voting 3rd party isn’t all about winning — certainly not in the presidential election, certainly not now.

        It’s about, first of all, as CW says, voting your conscience (though my conscience directs me towards Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, or Stewart Alexander, the sentiment is the same). Second, it’s about sending a message to the two major political parties that they can’t take a dump on you anymore — and they do pay attention. They pay attention to how many of the formerly faithful have left the fold. Third, and critically important, it’s about sending a message to other like-minded people out there that they/we are not alone. And fourth, it’s about building a culture of resistance. About, as Matt Stoller put it in two brilliant columns in Salon, exercising those muscles, because in the future we’re going to need them:



        • CelticWhisper

          Just for the record, Lisa, it was a close call between Johnson and Stein for me. A candidate-matching survey found only a one-percent difference in my agreement with them (90% GJ, 89% JS), so if either of them were to win I couldn’t go wrong. Stein struck me as a very intelligent and compassionate person in her interviews and debates.

          Johnson won my vote when he explicitly mentioned intending to put the choke-chain on TSA, but I can see Stein’s policy of protecting rights of protestors extending to reining in TSA as well.

      • Dolt

        Gary Johnson’s stated goal is to just get 5% of the vote. The 5% mark would force the next Presidential Election cycle to include the Libertarian Party. They would have a candidate in the debates, giving a voice to the erosion of civil liberties and other topics the 2 major parties refuse to speak on. To many of us, this would be a win. Therefore, it is not “too late”. I won’t even argue the principal vote point, since others have and also since it personally bothers me that so many people only seem to want to vote for a winner and not on what they actually believe in.