Not Just Another Scandal

Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the IRS, targeting reporters, the list of scandals encompassing this administration seems to go on and on. But not all scandals are created equally. The most serious scandal, the scandal all Americans should be most concerned about, is the NSA’s blatant violation of our civil liberties and its circumvention of our Bill of Rights. Liberals believe that government is the panacea for all our ills. This has led some on the left to “poo poo” the seriousness of the NSA collecting data on you and me and virtually every other American. Many conservatives, on the other end of the political spectrum, believe that any action the government takes in the interests of “national security” are means justifying the ends. Well, for my friends on the left and right, you’re both wrong. Our founding fathers had it right when they envisioned limited government in part because they knew that the government is not our friend and without proper restraints could well become our enemy. Unless or until our government can prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the interference with our basic civil liberties, as guaranteed by our constitution, has resulted in crushing terrorist plots, as claimed by the past two administrations, then our government has no right to even consider acting like “big brother.” It is not enough for some to claim that there is such evidence but we can’t reveal it in the “interests of national security.” It is not enough to claim, as our current President did last week, that it’s really okay for your government to collect all this information because it won’t be abused. In fact, evidence is mounting that it is being abused, both inadvertently and intentionally. If we have the IRS using our data to punish political opponents, can we trust that the NSA won’t be acting in an equally nefarious manner? What has been missing from the discussions about this issue is the potential for abuse. That is what kept our founding fathers up at night as they tried to balance the need for government with their fear of government. After all, why did we have a revolution in the first place? We had a revolution because, as Americans, we refused to live under an oppressive government. As we consider how important maintaining our rights as citizens are against apparently increasing efforts by our government to limit those rights, it is important to remember the words of Ben Franklin: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”