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Politics - Liberty and Tolerance

If you read your kids' American History text books, they will describe how America was so different from other countries at the time of its founding because of its commitment to personal liberty.  Yes, it was flawed as the original personal liberty applied primarily to white men.  But, over 230 years, liberty has been extended to all Americans.  There are surely still inequalities, but those are now news items that receive debate rather than prejudices that are taken for granted.

The scariest change for me over the past seven years has been the erosion of our personal liberty and reducton of our tolerance.  The most glaring has been the USA PATRIOT Act.  In response to the September 11 attacks, many Americans were willing to give up personal liberties in exchange for safety.  But, we have seen that this has been just the tip of the iceberg, with strong evidence that the Bush Administration has been circumventing the FISA Court to obtain wiretaps on US citizens since 2002.

I have two big problems with these types of actions:

  1. The blatant reduction in our personal liberty and privacy by US government action, and
  2. That so few people seem to be up in arms about it.

I think that the theme of invasive government is one reason why Ron Paul has attracted a hard core of support among people of various political stripes.  His Libertarian philosophy is too much for me, but I can certainly appreciate his immediate reaction that the US government has gotten too big for its britches.  Ironically, this problem has accelerated during a time period of strong Republican leadership in the Executive and Legislative branches.  Is this really the party of Ronald Reagan?

I would like to see all the candidates commit to restoring some of our personal liberties, even as we fight terrorism.  Today's NY Times has a story that shows that we are now vulnerable to having our laptops scanned when we enter the country.  Now, we are all ready to be checked out when we cross into the US.  And, I have no problem with searching all of the possessions of someone who gives border agents probable cause.  As much as I detest the child pornography that was found on the laptops of the people searched in the story, I don't want the US government checking out my laptop to see what's in my email, what web sites I visited, or what type of music I listen to.  It's a small step to this sort of electronic eavesdropping being extended inside of our borders, and we shouldn't stand for it.

Another aspect of personal liberty is allowing people to live their lives as long as they don't harm others.  For all the people who tout their family values, we seem to have lost the value of tolerance for those who are different than we are.  Gay marriage is a great example.  Although I am sure that there are some people who are disgusted by homosexuality, that doesn't give them the right to stop other people from living their life the way they want to.  I'm happy to live in Massachusetts where we can show the country that our society has not fallen apart since the advent of gay marriage.  In fact, it's a non-issue and, I believe, our divorce rate is actually one of the lowest in the country.  I know that my marriage isn't under siege. 

As you think about who to vote for this year, consider who will protect our personal liberties.  It's up to all of us to protect everyone's liberty, not just our own.  This includes being tolerant of those who are different than we are.  Who knows, you might be the 'different' one on the next issue.  Then, you'll appreciate tolerance on the part of others.


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Thanks for all your comments. I think that after yesterday's NH primary, there is basically a 2-way race on the Democratic side (Obama and Clinton) and 3-way on the Republican side (McCain, Romney, Huckabee). I don't think that Edwards is still viable. Of these, I think that Obama, Clinton, and McCain will be good on the personal liberty front. Romney and Huckabee scare me on this front.

As for VP, I think that Biden is a possibility, but I also like Richardson on the Democratic side. I think that he is mostly staying in to keep his profile up for that job. He has a strong international background, as well as executive/governor experience. And, he is Hispanic and can draw from the West. Nice balance. I liked him for President, but he wasn't able to generate enough interest.

For VP on the Republican side, that's harder to say. They have started off attacking each other, so it probably will be someone not too visible today (Lugar?) who could be VP. Obviously, it will depend alot on who the nominee is.

First, I disagree with you about Giuliani. In order to run a city, especially one that is 90%+ Democratic, Giuliani demonstrated his effectiveness running the executive branch of government. He encouraged wide participation and was liked for his results across the city. Had he been able to run for reelection again(term limits), he would have received 70-75% of the vote.

Second, I like Joe Biden too, and he is right up there with McCain as the most qualified candidates. What concerns with me an Obama-Biden ticket is that it is two senators. Governors are more legitimate candidates since they have experience actually running something as opposed to just talking about things. Hence, Obama would look to an older, experience, and moderate Governor like the Dem Govs. of PA, Rendell. Also, PA is a key swing state.

Most importantly, I am looking forward to the end of the Clinton era.

Third, personal liberties are important and any of the three I mentioned would not be threat. Keep in mind that Giuliani restored our liberty to enjoy NYC again by cleaning it up and restoring confidence after the disgrace that was Mayor Dinkins.

Fourth, Kucinich and Paul are simply nuts with one-issue agendas and cannot be seriously considered to lead this country or even a small business.

I agree with your concerns.

I'm skeptical about Rudy Giuliani's commitment to personal liberties, or his lack of partisanship. Other candidates that I think would respect personal liberty and freedom to be different, along with with National Security interests, are Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel,and Ron Paul. The only one that I think has a hope of bridging today's partisan politics is Obama. What do you think of Joe Biden as running mate?

I believe there are only 3 Presidential Candidates that value and respect differences and effectively balance with National Security Interests:

Barack Obama
John McCain
Rudy Giuliani

In my view, the others are too partisan and political to have legitimacy in this area.

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