Left turn: Dissent hardly limited to conservatives

Kelly Sloan

A funny thing happening on the left side of the House. While political eyes focus on internecine tensions among the right, a similar thing seems to be occurring on the left, although it’s a far less fashionable topic upon which to comment. Polemicist and political philosopher Matt Damon’s public “breakup” with President Barack Obama offers a particularly silly example.

It was amusing to watch President Obama and his spokesman, the hapless Jay Carney, try to mimic the most star-spangled cold war hawks in their denunciations of Russia’s embrace of Edward Snowden, like their defense of that most reactionary of government agencies, the NSA. It was clearly new and uncomfortable territory for them. It was certainly a far cry from the unguarded promise the president made to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev concerning the expiration of democratically imposed limitations on his ability to hand the Russians whatever they ask for.

But it was also the right thing to do. Snowden, by any measure, is a traitor to his nation not only because he willingly betrayed a solemn trust afforded by the position he held, but in the fact his first thought was to run into the arms of America’s most powerful strategic adversary.

Nevertheless, liberals within the Democratic Party are increasingly uncomfortable with the president’s grudging willingness to concede the necessity of using government resources to protect the United States.

Here they find unlikely allies on the right. Most conservatives — and all libertarians — are also uneasy, to say the least, of revelations concerning NSA wiretaps and the like. For conservatives, the worry is a government that feels entitled to tell the citizenry what kind of light bulb to use, how much soda to drink and where their children must go to school might have trouble observing limits on its power to find and deal with legitimate threats to society.

Most of the liberal opposition, on the other hand, seems to originate more in a French Revolutionary-type of radical individualism that rebels at the idea of government directing its resources towards what it is meant to do — protect the society that elected it to do so — instead of towards reducing that society to the lowest common denominator in the name of equality.

So why is a liberal administration like Obama’s suddenly clinging to these national security tools that so offend their ingrained civil libertarian enzymes? Well, it could be that despite their philosophic and economic faults, most of them aren’t sociopaths. Sometimes the stark reality that a Special National Intelligence Estimate provides can crack the veneer of ideology, at least to a point.

Dissension among the left isn’t widely heralded, but it’s not exactly new, either. The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, despite some notable lapses which usually happened to coincide with election campaigns in notoriously liberal New York, generally displayed one of the liveliest minds in American public discourse and was often presciently thoughtful and passionately defensive of his country — all qualities which frequently put him at odds with those to the left within his party.

That sort of honest apostasy among the left is exceedingly rare nowadays, but one can observe other schisms form. Colorado’s own Gov. John Hickenlooper, despite a leftward lurch in the last couple of years that could (one can hope) prove disastrous for him 15 months from now, is nonetheless reviled by many in the modernist-Luddite movement for his acknowledgement hydraulic fracturing isn’t the worst thing to hit the earth since whatever it was that killed all the dinosaurs. As a geologist, Hickenlooper is bound to acknowledge … well, the laws of physics and geology, regardless of whatever resistance his ideological persuasions offer.

Eventually, as it has in isolated and poorly handled cases concerning national security, the reality will begin to set in among liberals that American energy independence isn’t merely a nice dream, but a necessity that can’t be achieved solely with wind and solar power. And no amount of wishful thinking, directed transcendental meditation or government redistribution can change that. A few will complete the thought to realize development of our natural resources not only can, but will, be done responsibly, not because a set of government rules demand it, but because A) it makes economic sense (oil and gas companies want oil and gas going into sales pipelines, not water aquifers) and B) it’s the right thing to do. And in the real world, the energy industry isn’t the demonic entity caricatured in a Hollywood production starring Matt Damon, who will surely object to any acceptance of fracking.

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Kelly Sloan is a Grand Junction resident, freelance journalist, small business owner and Centennial Institute fellow on energy and economic policy. He specializes in public policy and political communications.
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Posted by on Aug 13 2013. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  • Jeff McCloskey

    Snowden: American Hero.

    His Oath, to defend the Constitution against ALL enemies Foreign and DOMESTIC, and his conscience, took precedence. A triumph for Justice.

    “When Snowden began his work for Booz Allen, he took two oaths. The first oath was to keep secret the classified materials to which he would be exposed in his work as a spy; the second oath was to uphold the Constitution.

    Shortly after Snowden began his work with the NSA, he came to the realization that he could not comply with both oaths. He realized that by keeping secret what he learned, he was keeping the American public in the dark about what its government is doing outside the Constitution in order to control the public.

    What is it doing?

    …Snowden realized the unconstitutional nature of what the government was doing and concluded that he could not be faithful to both of his oaths. One of those oaths – to retain secrets – is grounded in a federal statute that requires secrecy and punishes the exposure of secrets. The other oath is grounded in the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land and protects the natural right to be left alone and does not punish the governmental violation of that right.

    When confronted with the conflicting oaths, Snowden opted for the higher good: fidelity to the supreme law of the land. Hence, in order to protect the privacy of us all, Snowden violated the lesser oath and upheld the greater one. He could not serve two masters when the lesser of the two (fidelity to the government’s laws) facilitated a corruption of the greater of the two (the primacy to the Constitution).

    He’s a traitor, the establishment roared. He’s a high school dropout. He left the Army. He admits to having lots of sex with his girlfriend. He fled to Hong Kong.

    Who cares?

    He understands, as Ronald Reagan did, that if we don’t control the government, the government will control us. That’s why the Washington establishment yawned when we learned what it knew and now roars because Snowden challenged it. Those in power want to stay there and will misuse the Constitution to do so for as long as they can get away with it, no matter to which political party they belong. Any government that secretly spies on nearly all the population is aiming to control the population.

    Snowden knew that this massive violation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of nearly every American, orchestrated and operated in secrecy, is corrupting the Constitution and empowering the corruptors. It was that understanding plus a willingness to face down those in power who lack fidelity to the Constitution and who can do him harm that constituted the behavior of a hero.

    Is he flawed?

    The only hero who was not flawed was nailed to a tree 2,000 years ago because those He came into the world to save rejected Him.

    by Judge Andrew Napolitano

    Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/06/edward-snowdens-2-oaths/#A4TsBpkikR2PB3BT.99

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