Dishonest framing of the domestic surveillance debate
Debates over government surveillance powers should not be oversimplified to "MAGA Republicans" being agents of chaos or kissing Donald Trump's ring.
Back in 2001, I wrote a letter to the editor warning about the Patriot Act, which extended government powers in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. I warned that the powers granted to government would be abused. I wrote a guest editorial nine years later opposing sobriety checkpoints. I was the only candidate for Bloomington City Council in 2015 who spoke out against the city's attempt to get a Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) military vehicle, and I opposed the city's effort to acquire a "Bearcat" armored vehicle in 2018.
I am far from the only conservative Republican who has opposed expanded government power that was promised to "keep us safe." Ron Paul and his son Rand have stood against government abuses of power for decades now. These conservatives have stood on limited government principles, not loyalty to a particular political figure. Unfortunately, the influence of Donald Trump has distorted our policy debates into a contest between "MAGA" and traditionalist Republicans:
To simplify matters only slightly: An old guard remains devoted to national security and the memory of 9/11, while a rising MAGA faction fears the deep state more than foreign threats. The party of George W. Bush is pitted against the party of Donald J. Trump—except they are, for the time being, the same party.
Yes, there are some Republicans who have feigned outrage over the "security state" in an act of fealty to Trump. Others have opposed expanded government power long before Trump ever came down that escalator in 2015. The Republican Party started moving in a more libertarian direction with the 2010 and 2014 Tea Party waves that gave the GOP control of the House and Senate, respectively. This is why many debates over national security see libertarian-leaning Republicans joining with progressive Democrats. Let's also not forget that the Obama Administration's snooping on the Trump campaign in 2016 was - at best - deeply suspicious.
The policy debates over FISA searches, the Patriot Act, wiretapping and other government powers are serious matters that deserve serious analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of restricting or eliminating the federal government's ability to monitor the communications of American citizens with or without a warrant. This should not be oversimplified to "MAGA Republicans" being agents of chaos or kissing Trump's ring. You can think the Orange Man is Bad all you want, but the country deserves substance, not tribalism.