And, in regard to the last decade, both sides might be correct.
Tea Partiers will talk about President Obama signing a “grounds bill” that practically outlaws protests around anyone protected by the U.S. Secret Service. And they would have a point.
Occupy protesters will talk about the recent National Defense Authorization Act invalidating the due process clause of the Bill of Rights. They will say it originated from a GOP-led House Armed Services Committee. And they’d have a point, too.
It seems that, in the current political climate, Democrats and Republicans can look at the same document, video or picture and completely disagree on what they just saw. Numbers, however, can’t have a political spin. The House of Representatives voted for the grounds bill by a margin of 388-3, and the NDAA passed in the Senate 86-14.
It seems Congress can indeed act with widespread bipartisan support — it just has to be some awful law slashing away at civil liberties. Heck, the U.S. Supreme Court is even doing it.
They recently ruled in a 5-4 decision that American citizens can be stripped searched in local jails for even minor offenses. That means, if you forget your court date for a speeding ticket, a sheriff’s deputy could become more familiar with your private parts than your spouse.
Sure was great while it lasted, Mr. Fourth Amendment.
Some politicians have said that the outcry from both the left and right about the grounds bill has been completely overblown. They could be telling the truth. For whatever reason, I have found little coverage of the issue in the national media. So, who knows really.
Of course, I didn’t hear much about the NDAA either (Congress conveniently approved it around New Year’s Day). Yet I’m positive the law is an affront to the Fifth Amendment.
I even heard Attorney General Eric Holder say while defending the bill that “due process does not necessarily mean judicial process.”
Put simply, if you’re somehow suspected of terrorism, even if you’re an American citizen, your fate could be determined by a few CIA analysts rather than a judge or court.
Holder’s statement would make most constitutional law professors’ heads explode.
To be fair, Obama did include a signing statement with the NDAA. It said that he would not use the leeway given to him by law in regard to indefinite detention or killing an American citizen without trial. Well, thanks a heap Mr. President. Sure, hope every single chief executive that follows you does the same thing.
These recent threats to civil liberties are repugnant. But worse still is the falsehood perpetuated by both sides of the political aisle, that the other tribe is to blame for these infringements.
No. Believe me I would like nothing more than to blame Republicans for this. I would love to give Democrats a pass, and say they fought these measures. But most of them didn’t. Both parties are to blame for these infractions, and both sides of the political debate need to put their differences aside and call for these policies to be stopped.
There should be no debate, no name-calling, no political spin when it comes to issues involving the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These are the most valuable documents in this nation. They are the epitome of American ideals. They’re what the flag we love so much, that we pledge our allegiance to, represents. When we say a troop sacrificed his life at the alter of freedom, we mean he died protecting those principles — those precious scraps of paper.
And when most of the country sits oblivious to the meticulous tearing away of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, that is an insult to anyone who has sacrificed anything for this country.
Daniel Gaddy is a staff reporter for the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.