When people typically complain about the lack of bipartisanship in American politics, their outrage is grossly misplaced. While it is certainly true that our political discourse is home to contentious debates, this, in itself, is not the major problem. Rather, it is a distraction from the most potent toxin in American politics, which is our widespread bipartisan disregard for the preservation of civil liberties. When it comes to this issue, the distinction between Democrats and Republicans blurs to the point of non-existence. While right-wing politicians have a well-established history of ignoring civil liberties, Democrats have recently become much worse. The well-deserved condemnation that the Bush administration received from Democrats regarding civil-liberties violations has proven to be simply flowery political rhetoric based on their recent actions. The left’s outrage at Bush’s policies coupled with their acceptance of Obama’s reveals undeniable hypocrisy.
For the confused Democrat, let us revisit the outrage present during the Bush years. During his era, Guantanamo was the primary symbol of right-wing radicalism. Most left-wing Democrats saw it as not only counterproductive, but also as a step away from democracy and towards dictatorial governance. Democrats righteously, and correctly, pointed out that it was absurd that the Bush/Cheney duo could imprison individuals who were accused of being a terrorist without a trial. Back then, Democrats laughed at Bush defenders who argued that dangerous terrorists had given up all of their rights, even the right to a trial. Even if you were to subscribe to this cowardly notion that we have to fight terror with terror, it must still be pointed out that the guilt of an individual cannot, and should not, be determined by the whims of the President. The Constitution has made it so that the burden of proving guilt rests with the courts and America’s legal system.
Despite Obama’s defense of civil liberties while a Presidential candidate, he has not only retained many of Bush’s policies, but has also invented new ones. He has gone much farther than mere eavesdropping or indefinite detentions that the Patriot Act grants. His administration has given themselves the power to kill citizens, American or otherwise, without a fair hearing. In fact, this was the case with drone strikes that killed American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. Beyond that, the Obama administration has approved the use of drone strikes in military operations, which kill innocent men, women and children by the hundreds, if not thousands.
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