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How Team Obama, the GOP, and Tea Partiers Are All Intruding on Your Rights

In the Constitution, "security" means protection from our law enforcers, not by them.

The earth's core, consisting largely of iron, helps balance our spinning planet. On the other hand, the core of too many of today's prominent political leaders consists almost entirely of unintended irony, which tends to make them go all wobbly on their political stands. This might be comical were it not so destructive for our nation.

For example, check out the politicos who're raising such a cacophony these days about big, intrusive government. Ironically, they're usually the same knee-jerks who so fervidly advocate the expansion of government's biggest and most intrusive force: police power. Since 9/11, this bunch has screeched non-stop that the only way to make the American people secure in this terrifying age is to jackhammer the word "secure" out of the Fourth Amendment--the only place in the Bill of Rights where the term appears.

The founders (made of much stronger stuff than today's political harpies) believed that genuine security for a democratic people comes from strengthening their right and ability to resist the autocratic impulses of the authorities. By deliberately placing "secure" in this key Bill of Rights passage, they certainly did not intend for it to be twisted into a meek call for ever-expanding police power to "protect" the citizenry, but instead to give citizens essential legal guarantees to protect themselves from police power.

It wasn't political theory that shaped their phrasing--it was rough, real-life experience with King George III's security forces. Thus, they wrote with unmistakable conviction: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause...." 


Those few words are our bulwark against the repressive enforcement power of a police state. Yet, practically from the start of America's democratic experiment, the rights that the founders established in Amendment IV have constantly been chipped at, frequently ignored by authorities, and occasionally suspended by fear mongering politicians (ranging from the 1798 Alien Enemies Act to the infamous Patriot Act of 2001). The good news is that--after an ugly, repressive interlude--the people themselves have historically risen against each of these authoritarian assaults on the wisdom of the constitutional authors, and restored the liberty-protecting provisions of the Fourth to their proper place at the center of our nation's governing ethos.

In 2008, many voters thought that by voting for Barack Obama, they were making just such a correction to the dangerously autocratic course steered by the Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft regime. And why wouldn't they? After all, despite getting hammered by Republicans for being "soft on terror," Obama had campaigned aggressively that year against such grossly unreasonable searches and seizures as the FBI's spying campaign on groups of law-abiding protestors, the Pentagon's massive, data-sucking supercomputer that was covertly sifting through vast piles of personal information on millions of Americans, and the door-busting, pre-dawn raids by heavily armed federal agents into the private homes of medical marijuana users.

Shortly after taking office, the new president lifted the hopes of civil libertarians by declaring that "our values have been our best national security assets--in war and peace; in times of ease and eras of upheaval." Yes! Correct! Excellent!

But, where'd that guy go? Fine words are about the only changes that have come from the Obama administration, which overall has been distressingly Bush-Cheneyish on expanding--not reducing--the power of assorted police agencies to go far beyond legitimate law enforcement.

Unbeknownst to most people--and unmentioned by candidates in this year's presidential elections (with the important exception of Ron Paul)--Team Obama, the entire Republican leadership, tea party lawmakers, and assorted state and local officials have jointly been moving America toward the darkness of unbridled police intrusion into our lives and liberties.

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