Republicans and Individual Liberty
One major point of contention at the National Security and Foreign Policy debate Tuesday night centered around the surveillance powers afforded to the government by the Patriot Act. In one corner was Congressman Ron Paul, who argued that the government can provide security “without sacrificing our Bill of Rights” and that we don’t need surveillance cameras in every bedroom in America to prevent crimes. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich noted that he didn’t know of any provision that needed to be changed, that the law should be extended, and that the government should do whatever is necessary to prevent acts of terrorism.
Here is what the 2008 Republican Party Platform had to say about “Securing Our Civil Liberties” (page 49):
Because our Constitution is based on the principles of individual liberty and limited government, we must always ensure that law enforcement respects the civil and constitutional rights of the people. While we wage war on terrorism in foreign lands, it is sometimes necessary for intelligence agencies and law enforcement officials to pursue terrorist threats at home. However, no expansion of governmental powers should occur at the expense of our constitutional liberties.
It could just be empty rhetoric — what would politics be without that? Imagine if the advocacy both in the above paragraph and the Platform for “limited government” and “individual liberty” actually held meaning, that Republicans could believe in a bias that tilted toward liberty, rather than expanded executive power.