Monday, July 8, 2013

Partisanship and authoritarianism

I saw a fascinating and disturbing excerpt today from a new book entitled, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces. Here's a passage that caught my eye:
The political reaction to the Occupy crackdowns was interesting to watch. In the 1990s, it had been the right wing—particularly the far right—that was up in arms over police militarization. Recall the outrage on the right over Waco, Ruby Ridge, and the raid to seize Elián González. The left had largely either remained silent or even defended the government’s tactics in those cases. But the right-wing diatribes against jackbooted thugs and federal storm-troopers all died down once the Clinton administration left office, and they were virtually nonexistent after September 11, 2001. By the time cops started cracking heads at the Occupy protests, some conservatives were downright gleeful. The militarization of federal law enforcement certainly didn’t stop, but the 9/11 attacks and a friendly administration seemed to quell the conservatives’ concerns. So long as law enforcement was targeting hippie protesters, undocumented immigrants, suspected drug offenders, and alleged terrorist sympathizers, they were back to being heroes.
That sounds familiar, actually. As noted at the NYT, a majority of Americans are okay with NSA wiretapping, as long as it's their party in charge:
In 2006, when George W. Bush was president, just 37 percent of Democrats said the N.S.A. surveillance program was acceptable, while 61 percent said it was not. Now those numbers are 64 percent and 34 percent respectively.

Republicans appear to be fair-weather fans as well. In 2006, 75 percent said the program was acceptable, and 23 percent said it was not. Now 52 percent find it acceptable, and 47 percent unacceptable.
Blatant partisanship, it seems, is slowly yielding to more and more authoritarian government in America. When one half of the country refuses to stand up for the rights of the other half--and this is reciprocated--the rule of law slowly erodes.

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