“Democrats Have Abandoned Civil Liberties”

It’s sad, and all too true, but it’s not something you often hear from a left-wing ideologue like Matt Taibbi. Nevertheless, that’s the title of a recent blog post by the life-long Democrat. The subtitle is, “The Blue Party’s Trump-era Embrace of Authoritarianism Isn’t Just Wrong, it’s a Fatal Political Mistake,” and it’s full of insight, so you should read the whole thing. By way of a preview, however, here’s Taibbi’s summary of left’s reaction to the latest developments in the Flynn case:

Warrantless surveillance, multiple illegal leaks of classified information, a false statements charge constructed on the razor’s edge of Miranda, and the use of never-produced, secret counterintelligence evidence in a domestic criminal proceeding – this is the “rule of law” we’re being asked to cheer. … [C]ases like this have turned erstwhile liberals – people who just a decade ago were marching in the streets over the civil liberties implications of Cheney’s War on Terror apparatus – into defenders of the spy state. Politicians and pundits across the last four years have rolled their eyes at attorney-client privilege, the presumption of innocence, the right to face one’s accuser, the right to counsel and a host of other issues, regularly denouncing civil rights worries as red-herring excuses for Trumpism.

After reviewing several other examples of the Democrats change of heart on civil liberties, he says:

On the campaign trail in 2016, I watched Democrats hand Trump the economic populism argument by dismissing all complaints about the failures of neoliberal economics. This mistake was later compounded by years of propaganda arguing that “economic insecurity” was just a Trojan Horse term for racism. These takes, along with the absurd kneecapping of the Bernie Sanders movement, have allowed Trump to position himself as a working-class hero, the sole voice of a squeezed underclass.

The same mistake is now being made with civil liberties. Millions have lost their jobs and businesses by government fiat, there’s a clamor for censorship and contact tracing programs that could have serious long-term consequences, yet voters only hear Trump making occasional remarks about freedom; Democrats treat it like it’s a word that should be banned by Facebook (a recent Washington Post headline put the term in quotation marks, as if one should be gloved to touch it). Has the Trump era really damaged our thinking to this degree?

 

Jon Guze / Director of Legal Studies

Jon Guze is the Director of Legal Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the John Locke Foundation, Jon practiced law in Durham, North Carolina for over twent...

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