“I will not cede more power to the state. I will not willingly cede more power to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors, not to the CIO. I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me. I will then use my power, as I see fit. I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth. That is a program of sorts, is it not? It is certainly program enough to keep conservatives busy, and liberals at bay. And the nation free.”
William F. Buckley, Jr.
I smack the Tea Partistas and the Libertarians a lot, but at the core of both movements there is a valid sentiment: we must never forget that the government works for us; that any power we grant the government is temporary, conditional, and subject to repeal; and that while we choose to allow the government the ability to act for the collective good, the choice of whether to do so is ours. And we must think and act accordingly at all times.
Astroturf Politics: an expression that refers to the deployment of monetary and/or media assets by an individual or small group in order to create the illusion of a grassroots sentiment or movement, or to create the illusion that a lunatic fringe actually represents mainstream sentiment.
Astroturf politics have been used by both liberals and conservatives. Traditional Democratic machine politics a la Tammany Hall were the earliest and crudest manifestation of the phenomenon. Most recently, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod and Democratic-leaning billionaire George Soros have been accused of employing the tactic with liberal-left organizations like MoveOn.org and J-Street, and industrialists Charles and David Koch have been accused of doing the same in the effort to spawn and support libertarian and reactionary causes, including the Tea Party movement.
In the matter of self-proclaimed cyber libertarian Edward Snowden, we have a remarkable story that continues to unfold, and the longer it does so, the more questions that arise.
But let us be clear: anyone crowning Snowden either a hero or a traitor at this point is doing so on incomplete information, and is probably doing so based more on his or her political inclinations than on a thoughtful assessment of the facts. That would be alright, except that it shrouds the need for journalists, government, and all of us to continue to dig into this story to understand the whole truth.
It is possible to make a case that regardless of the final outcome, Snowden has made a contribution to liberty in America by making a story out of the erosion of civil liberties in this country. That may be true.
But in order to assess Snowden and his legacy, in order to decide if he is a hero or a traitor, we must have a clearer idea of how important his contributions really are, and we must balance that against any collateral damage he has done (intentionally or otherwise) to the interests of the nation. If, in the end, his contributions are indeed deemed greater, then he deserves to be deemed a hero. At a time where investigations have just begun and the story continues to unfold, we are a long way from knowing whether that is the case.
I remember a bumper sticker from my College Republican Days: “Gun control is being able to hit your target.” Amusing to some, infuriating to others, especially in light or recent events.
Let us follow that little aphorism down to its roots. The US military does not put a rifle into the hands of a private/airman/seaman until they’ve been trained in its safe handling, care, safe storage, maintenance, and competent use. Neither does any self-respecting police force in the land.
Should standards for the common citizen be any lower than those established for public servants and sworn officers of the law?
The great missing debate in contemporary politics is about the role and reach of markets. Do we want a market economy, or a market society? What role should markets play in public life and personal relations? How can we decide which goods should be bought and sold, and which should be governed by nonmarket values? Where should money’s writ not run?