Can I editorialize for a bit today? I know that while some of you enjoy hearing the opinion of our writers – others just want the facts, and I can appreciate that. Today, I want to ask you to hear me out, because I think that I am about to communicate an unpopular opinion to our readers and I want you to know that I say all of this from my heart and with no malice to those who disagree.
The topic is the war on terror and the debate over how we can best protect our liberties.
If you’ve been reading Eagle Rising for any length of time, then you probably know that I am a staunch conservative constitutionalist who believes that our nation’s first duty is to protect the liberties found therein. You likely also know that I have come to loathe the politics of certain GOP leaders like Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ) and Peter King (R-NY). For these men, the most important job of our government is to protect our citizens from danger – no matter the Constitutional cost. The desire to protect us is a noble one – but the cost is too great. In a free society we, the citizens, must be willing to take on some level of risk in an effort to secure our liberties.
This is why over the last few years I’ve found myself gravitating to conservatives like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, Mike Lee, Raul Labrador and others. These men are at times described as “libertarian” for their perspectives on the Constitution, but if you look at their Heritage Action scores (the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation scores our nations representatives on a liberal to conservative scale) these men all score high on the conservative scale.
For example –Senator Rand Paul (who Graham, McCain, and others have called “left of Obama”) had a 96% score in the 112th Congress, a 93% score in the 113th, and he currently has an 82% score in the current Congress (though they’ve only tallied 11 votes thus far. He is consistently rated as far more conservative than many of his GOP counterparts, and yet I hear conservatives rail against Senator Paul each and every day for his foreign policy rhetoric.
I humbly ask you, dear readers, to consider the scores of Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Peter King in comparison. Folks, in the 113th Congress (2013 -2014) Lindsey Graham had a rating of 47%, John McCain had a rating of 49% and Peter King had a rating of 35%!
And these liberal Republicans are somehow the men we “TRUST” on foreign policy issues? How can this be?
I’m not going to argue that Rand Paul (and the other “libertarian” Republicans) have the “right” answer on foreign policy; I only want to say that the men and women (Hillary Clinton included) leading our nation’s foreign policy for the last 25 years have not done so well. So why are we considering continuing to allow them to lead us in that respect?
I would also add that the division in this debate isn’t just on foreign policy, it’s also on certain Constitutional questions.
On one side of the debate we have a dissenting minority saying that we must not compromise the Bill of Rights in order to fight the war on terror. On the other side we have a majority (the Graham/McCain/Obama/Clinton group) arguing that certain concessions must be made in order to ensure our safety. In response to this latter argument, can I quote the father of the Constitution, James Madison?
“Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.”
—James Madison, Father of the Constitution
Or perhaps you might prefer the tried and true favorite from Benjamin Franklin?
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
— Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father
Again, I don’t mean to belittle the desires of those who wish to keep American citizens safe and secure. However, I do question the means of doing so.
Safety and security are important jobs of our government, but there is a reason that our founders (and some 250 years of history) held certain limitations on that power. Safety is of no use to an enslaved people. Does this sound extreme? I mean for it to.
Today, there is a cultural and political war being waged on every front in America.
- Free speech is under attack, both from the cultural fascist left who would wish to silence dissent on social issues, and from the political fascists who wish to operate in secrecy without the public knowing. Hate speech laws are becoming more popular among Democrats, and in Congress our representatives want to create new laws that would make it more difficult for freelance media (mostly internet based) to speak freely about what the government is doing. They are working hand in hand – whether by accident or on purpose matters not because the outcome is the same.
- Freedom of Religion is under pressure in a concerted effort by left-wing activists and government authorities. In many states it has become dangerous for conservative Christians to speak to the most controversial and relevant issues because of the ever present danger of being sued. In the civic and business arena things have become even more precarious as organizations which choose to take the “wrong” stand on these inflammatory cultural issues can find themselves sued by both private entities and the local government. Business owners risk everything when choosing to stick to their principles.
- Freedom of the Press is at risk, and it goes hand in hand with the threats facing free speech. The government continues to search for ways to pass media shield laws that would, instead of protecting press freedom, actually restrict it. How? The government would decide who was the “legitimate” press and who was not. For example, an internet author (or blogger) such as myself would not be considered a member of the press, so I would not have the same freedom that some traditional newspaper reporters do…even though Eagle Rising’s circulation is actually far larger than most of the traditional newspaper outlets in America today. We have a mailing list of some 300,000 readers, on Facebook we reach millions of people each week, and yet, in the eyes of the government, our speech does not warrant the same protection as a local town newspaper with a circulation of hundreds.
- The right to bear arms is constantly under attack. For whatever reason, this is the one right that we conservatives have done a good job being vigilant in protecting. It’s time we take this same kind of vigilance and use it to protect our other liberties as well.
- But the right that might be under most scrutiny today – thanks to the war on terror – is the 4th 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. Whatever your stance on the NSA’s mass surveillance program, whether you are for it or against it, you must realize that it stands in complete violation of the 4th Amendment. Even if the NSA were to find actionable data from the mass vacuuming of American data – the 4th Amendment strictly prohibits that information from being used in a court of law. Are we not a nation of laws? Are we not a nation of liberty?
I beg of you my dear, conservative friends to consider the ramifications if we support the NSA’s warrantless mass collection of data. We are, by default, compromising the Bill of Rights and giving ammunition to those who would seek to weaken other amendments (including the 1st and the 2nd). It is incumbent upon our national security services to find ways of fighting the war on terror that do not infringe on our basic liberties… even if it makes their jobs more difficult.
Freedom is that important.
I hope that in writing this I have not alienated any “security first” conservatives. That was not my intention. My deepest hope is only to educate and enlighten readers to another perspective — one that says, ‘security is important – but our liberty is more important.’