The respected Foreign Policy magazine details how the recent close vote on the NSA warrantless surveillance program was heading to a victory for privacy when the White House called in Nancy Pelosi. With heavy pressure from Pelosi, the White House was able to get just enough votes to kill privacy. Even with her ignoble role in this vote (and prior work to reduce civil liberties), many democrats are still supporting Pelosi in what is now a robotic form of politics. As their leader takes an axe to privacy, Democrats are again adopting the mantra that the other guys are worse and she is still good on other issues — making privacy just another item to trade off as part of the blue state/red state paradigm maintained by our duopoly of government.
Rep. Justin Amash came close to stopping the NSA with a 205-217 with many Republicans joining Democrats to fight for privacy. THe White House put on a full court press to block the effort. However, it came down to Pelosi to deliver the death blow for civil liberties — establishing once again that she is entirely untethered to any principle beyond blind loyalty to Barack Obama and the continuation of her own political ambitions. Roughly 60 percent of voters would get rid of all of the incumbents but we have a system that perpetuates the power of politicians like Pelosi. It does not matter that the public hates Congress or that people like Jimmy Carter have said that we no longer has a functioning democracy. The Democratic operatives just hold up some conservative nut case on YouTube like a shiny thing to distract the public from another blow to civil liberties by Democrats.
Think of it. Here is a representative from San Francisco (one of the bastions of civil liberties) fighting to cripple privacy as the California Senator, Dianne Feinstein, leads the fight to expand warrantless surveillance and shield the security state from review. Their public roles against civil liberties shows how successful the Democratic party has become in convincing voters that they have to continue to support them because the Republicans are worse. It is the ultimate expression of the relativism that has taken hold of the party. With Congress at a record low in popularity, the incumbents continue to be reelected because they have convinced voters that it is all a matter of red states and blue states — not abstractions like due process or privacy. It is the easiest concession to make: you do not have to take a principled stand in opposing people like Pelosi so long as you can point to bad people in the other party. It is the sharks and the jets and you have to “stick with your own kind” even if you can’t quite remember what that kind is. You just can’t let the other side win even if our politicians are cleaving off fundamental rights and protections.
I also must confess to some suspicions about the closeness of the vote. Often when Congress is doing something shameful, leadership will engineer a close vote to allow members to vote on the right side in districts that are vulnerable. I expect Pelosi worked to allow as many Democrats to vote for privacy while the result was locked in by the White House. These members can now return and assure voters that they fought for privacy even though they did nothing for years despite prior reports of such surveillance. The security state gets to keep its massive surveillance system and Pelosi gets the continued support of President Obama as leader of her party in the House. Everyone wins accept the public, but they hardly matter.