“Obama and Romney vs. the Bill of Rights
We don’t know whether Obama or Romney will come out on top in the election. But it’s a safe bet that civil liberties will not.
Not all of it, of course. Americans generally favor religious freedom (the First Amendment) and the right to own guns (Second). But the ban on any establishment of religion (First) is a favorite target of believers who think the government has a sacred duty to promote Christianity.
Then there are the Fourth Amendment, which bans unreasonable searches, and the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees the right against self-incrimination. These are often seen as obstructions erected for the perverse benefit of bad people, who would not be so bad if they had read more Bible stories in school.
So politicians rarely rise to defend these provisions or the rights they safeguard. Civil liberties are the Penn State Nittany Lions of our political realm: They have many enemies, and their friends often look embarrassed.
When George W. Bush was president, Democrats often decried his habit of trampling on freedoms in his zeal to stamp out terrorism at any cost. Running in 2008, Barack Obama decried Bush’s aggressive use of presidential power in the name of national security.
But Democrats usually worry about civil liberties only when the other party is violating them. Obama is not always recognizable as the same person now that he is president. He has maintained the prison camp at Guantanamo, continued warrantless surveillance of Americans and carried out lethal drone attacks on U.S. citizens abroad without making public the evidence.