There are many people who are asking us long-time Obama supporters why we’re not just as upset about PRISM as we would have been if this program had come from Bush.
It’s an absolutely fair question. It reeks of emotional bias and an intellectually-compromised double standard. I’ve spent some time thinking about it. I think I have an answer, and it relates to my (and perhaps others’) perceived view of how the two groups (Obama vs. the current GOP) treat people overall.
Before even getting to that realization, it’s important to note that Obama seems to have directly taken into account the central issue of the security/freedom balance in these programs. Stop right now and go watch this video in its entirety. I can truthfully say that if Bush had said anything like this in a similar situation I’d feel a whole lot better about any such program.
And here are the key details that seem to have been lost in the commotion:
- The programs are not secret; every member of congress has been fully aware of the phone call program
- The programs only collect telephone metadata (phone numbers and duration of calls)–not actual voice recordings
- If they actually want to listen to a phone call as the result of a lead, they then have to go to a federal judge–just like usual
- The program is continually overseen by congress and by the FISA court, i.e. the legislative and judicial branches of oversight
- For the Internet monitoring, it doesn’t even apply to U.S. citizens or to people living in the United States
So, assuming this is true, I’m having trouble seeing the cause for outrage.
Take the source into account
Next, and perhaps more importantly, here’s the other reason I’m not as bothered by this program coming out of an Obama administration vs. a Romney administration–which is really what’s being asked.
People are accusing liberals of a double-standard–of not being angry enough–and here’s a damn good reason for it:
I believe Obama to be a populist. He cares about people. Regular people.
He’s against corporations that abuse people. He’s for a tax system that benefits more people rather than less. He’s pro-education. He’s for universal healthcare. He is for women’s right to choose. He’s for gay rights. The list continues.
This person being in charge of a massive conspiracy to screw Americans is simply far more unlikely to me than for someone like Romney, or Bush, or anyone else in what I consider to be a wholly compromised GOP that cares nothing for the plight of regular Americans.
So, could this all be a massive conspiracy? Could it be a massive scam run by Obama to pretend all these years that he actually cares about people, so that he could run the worst spying program ever? And then lie about it in this video?
Sure, that’s possible. But I rate it as extremely unlikely.
And to answer the question, yes–I would absolutely consider the same program more dangerous if it were uncovered during a Romney or a Ryan administration.
Because they’re against the regular person. They’re pro-elite. They’re for the rich becoming more rich while people can’t pay medical bills or feed their families, they’re against public schools, against the right to choose, against gay rights, against universal healthcare, against a living wage, and against pretty much any program that seeks to equalize the situation in this country.
In short, they’re dangerously abstracted from the plight of the regular person, and that is precisely the type of us/them mentality that enables a program like PRISM to take on a sinister character.
In short, I don’t believe community organizers trying to give everyone universal healthcare are likely to be working to destroy my freedoms, where if that same power were in the hands of someone who thinks people making less than 100K a year are lazy and stupid and non-deserving of assistance–I’d be a lot more worried.