This past week, Democrats including prominent civil rights figure Jon Lewis staged a sit-in on the House floor to protest the lack of laws preventing the state from barring people on the no-fly list from buying guns. This sit-in hasn’t accomplished anything other than gaining negative attention in the media and the creation of funny internet memes. On the one hand. a government doing something outside of passing more statist legislation that will continue to erode our rights is a good thing to me. Politicians should sit around and do nothing more often.
The reason for this sit-in should also put to bed the notion that the left is for civil liberties. With some rare exceptions such as Glenn Greenwald who has been consistently against the national security state since 9/11, the majority of the left has made its peace with the national security and warfare states. Alternatively you could say that they were just anti-Bush, anti-conservative (not that I don’t disagree with that sentiment) and just were anti-police state out of spite rather than actual interest in defending civil liberties.
However it’s not just the sit-in that points this out, it’s been the entire Obama era. The fire of the anti-war left more or less died (again some very small exceptions) and the left learned to love the police state. Sure they do a dog and pony show for issues such as police brutality, but in reality it’s just all bark and no bite. There may have been a time when the left actually defended civil liberties, but that time has long passed.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I all of a sudden trust conservatives with civil liberties. No way in hell does this current episode in political theater change that. I’ve said for years that conservatism (and all three flavors; paleoconservatism, neoconservatism and neoreactionary) and liberalism are just two different flavors of socialism. I still don’t like conservatives, but one can’t help but see that the left’s latest stunt makes conservatives appear in a better light on the surface. Sadly there are still libertarians of several stripes out there who think that movement can work with conservatives, but that’s another argument for another day.
In conclusion with very few expections such as Rand Paul, Justin Amash along with Russ Feingold and Dennis Kucinich (when Feingold and Kucinich were in office) liberalism and conservatism has no interest in protecting our liberties. It’s foolish to think otherwise. They’ll do their respective song and dance to show that they are somehow different from their “opposition” but in reality they don’t want to roll back the state. They’d rather just be in control of it.
This originally appeared on the blog Cynical in New York