Liberals And Conservatives Switch Positions On NSA Surveillance Depending On If 'Their Guy' Is In Power

from the terrible dept

Orin Kerr has pointed out that people who self-identify themselves as "liberals" or "conservatives" seem to shift their opinion on NSA surveillance depending on whether or not it's "their guy" in the White House. That is, back when George W. Bush was President, "Democrats" disapproved of the NSA's surveillance activities, with only 27% approving it. "Republicans" on the other hand, had a 75% approval of the NSA's activities, which were known to include warrantless wiretapping. Fast forward to today, and we have "liberals" being split down the middle between being concerned and not concerned, but conservatives having 77% either "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about the surveillance (48% falling into the "very concerned") category. Kerr notes that the two surveys may not be completely comparable -- the questions were not identical, and one study was based on political party, while the other was based on ideology (which might not match up). But, at the very least, it does suggest a general sense that people are much more comfortable with surveillance when "their guy" is in power, and against it when they dislike the President.

That's troubling on any number of levels, but hopefully it serves as a point to a useful tool in convincing those who trust "their guy" not to abuse the system: just ask them how comfortable they'll be when "the other guy" is in power after the next election?

Filed Under: conservatives, liberals, nsa, surveillance

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  1. icon
    NoahVail (profile), 7 Jan 2014 @ 10:22am

    (Disclaimer: Conservative for 20+ years, liberal before that.)

    I have 2 blanket statements to make about conservatives, liberals and surveillance.

    "Any conservative candidate that survives into office will expand the surveillance state as much as possible."

    I think most honest conservatives and liberals would agree with that statement.

    "Any liberal candidate that survives into office will expand the surveillance state as much as possible."

    Here's where it gets weird.

    Conservatives - They tend to be pro-surveillance and anti-liberal.
    I wouldn't want an opinion born from that mix.

    Liberals - I don't know what to think about liberals.
    I suspect that as long as a Dem candidate is breaking some kind of social barrier (female, LGBT, whatever), most liberals will enthusiastically believe any campaign promise made about surveillance reform and transparency.

    They shouldn't.

    Candidate Obama had an extraordinarily good mindset about Surveillance, in 2007.
    However, Obama's conversion to the Surveillance-Dark-Side began before he was even elected.
    By the time Pres Obama was a year into office, he was fully turned.

    In my opinion, far too many liberals are in denial about this.

    Since conservatives are on the wrong side of the surveillance issue
    and (afaik) liberal ideology abhors a surveillance state
    then we need our liberals to denounce and help roll back constitutional surveillance.

    But if liberals will only acknowledge surveillance abuses under a Republican PotUS, they are (at best) as bad as conservatives.

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