Friday, April 17, 2009

Obama Agenda vs. Civil Liberties

This is not something that can be asked and answered in a single post, but in response to my post TPI asked me "in what way is Obama's agenda destructive of civil liberties?"

I'm not going to get into a huge argument about this, but here's my very rudimentary and basic answer: Bush massively reduced the right to privacy via the Patriot Act. He violated our right to be free by torturing suspected terrorists. He violated our right to fair trial by holding detainees for years without a hearing. He violated our right to success by promoting discrimination against arab-appearing Americans.

Obama has not had 8 years to violate our rights, so his list is obviously shorter and less heinous. But what I was getting at with my loaded "but no less invasive to civil liberty" is Obama's two-fold attack on our right to bear arms and our right to prosper. I am not defending the Bush Administration's bungling of the economy, and I did not support their spending spree. But Bush's econ policies seemed...I a snowball to Obama's avalanche of money. I'm not one of those hypocrites who says "$300 billion is okay, but $1.2 trillion is too much." I ranted against bailouts from the beginning. Bailouts rob people of the right to fail, of the rights of other intrepid people to establish efficient businesses in the wake of a bad business' colossal failure. Bailouts rob people of the right to spend their money at places they wish to, by forcing it into the hands of businesses that do not necessarily deserve it. Bush, and then Obama, used (and continue to use) "bailout or else armageddon" fearmongering to push upon the American people debts that we will eventually have to pay.
And you have to be either completely in Obama's pocket or have no access to the internet to know that about 15 seconds after Obama was elected, his website dropped their pro-gun talk and took up the liberal, anti-gun mantle. I know, I know, TPI, you don't think Obama is anti-gun. But the problem is that Obama isn't going to stand in the way of the people who are vengefully trying to remove guns from the hands of those of us who have the Constitutionally established right to them.
Obama might not be the bad guy in the anti-gun surge that is building steam in the Democratic party, but I don't see him telling Nancy Pelosi to sit down and shut up.

Anyway, we are looking at the sum total of Bush's legacy...Katrina, Patriot Act, Guantanimo, Iraq, etc. and we get the opportunity to go "wow, what a jerk." But with Obama, we're looking at it the ski slope from the top, and we really don't know what the ride will be like. But so far, Obama hasn't really seemed like "the ultimate defender of liberty" but more like "the ultimate enactor of progressive agenda".



Benjamin Dueholm said...

You make an interesting argument about the "right to prosper," but I would submit that first, this is not something conventionally included under "civil liberties," and second, that people will still be making lots of money and starting businesses and enjoying life after four years of Obama. Raising the top marginal tax rate to its Clinton-era levels will have no effect on any of that.

As for guns, he hasn't proposed any major new restrictions and indeed just said he won't try to renew the assault weapons ban (which, IIRC, you support). Closing the gun show loophole is a small and overdue policy change. You and every other law-abiding person in America will be able to own all the guns you want no matter how long Obama is in office.

It's possible that bigger policy changes could pass the House and even the Senate (though they would get filibustered to death there in all likelihood). But Obama has so much else to fight over right now that he clearly has no appetite for expanding gun laws.

adam said...

I am just speculating here, but I don't think that TAE's argument was that Obama would spearhead the movement. I think that TAE's argument was that Obama would not stop the movement and would just let it happen, sign the bill, and be fine with it.

When it comes to Gun Control laws, citizens forget the person ultimately responsible for the actual constitutionality of the law. That person is the president. Why? because he appoints justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. They are the line in the sand. These appointments are some of the most important, but often overlooked, decisions made by the president. When it comes time, which should be any day now, that Obama has to make that appointment, which side of gun control will his appointee be on.

Benjamin Dueholm said...

Well, it's not clear really that the "sides" are when it comes to gun issues on the court right now. The question of an individual right was answered (with Obama's support) in the last session. Other than that, everyone on the court agrees that some restrictions are reasonable, just as the 1st Amendment isn't interpreted to mean that a ten-year-old can verbally assault his teacher. The question will be what kinds of restrictions can be allowed and which can't. My guess is that Obama's appointees will be more moderate on this score than, say, Clarence Thomas, we're likely talking about pretty marginal differences over whether different cities and states can regulate guns in ways that their elected leaders see fit, that sort of thing. If you're worried about mass gun confiscation, don't--there's no way it will happen.