Like many New Jersey residents, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan appreciates his right to privacy. Until recently, that he would be the only person allowed to access his own e-mails, phone calls, and personal information seemed like something the strict Constitutionalist could depend on. Recently, however, Mayor Lonegan joined scores of anxious Americans in the appalling realization that Big Brother’s all-seeing eye, intended only to detect those who could be a threat to national security, is now focused on the citizenry as a whole.
“I don’t want my emails read or gathered or my phone bills collected,” said Mayor Lonegan. “I am a free law abiding American citizen and there is no way anyone like me should be subjected to that. Its just an excuse to gather data that’s going to be used in a wide range of [purposes].”
Unfortunately for proponents of this surveillance program, Mayor Lonegan, a former spokesperson for American for Prosperity, is also currently the Republican Party’s Senatorial frontrunner, which grants him the ability to position his disdain for the NSA’s Orwellian tactics at the forefront of the public discussion. Indeed, though it is still early in the campaign, Mayor Lonegan has already challenged incumbent politicians and his Democratic opponents to stand up for the Constitutional principles on which this nation was founded and demand accountability from the Obama Administration. Thus far, on the Democratic side, only Representative Rush Holt (D-12) has promised an all-out opposition to Patriot Act and NSA.
“I think the issue that cuts deeply across party lines, gender lines, and ethic lines, is the invasion of our privacy,” said Mayor Lonegan, who is currently touring the state in an attempt to rouse support. “It’s the issue that really resonates with all ilk.”
Indeed, Mayor Lonegan hopes to warn progressives and centrists, Democrats and Republicans alike, of the dangers they potentially face. Though it is Right-wingers who feel most threatened in the wake of the IRS probing conservative and Tea Party groups, liberals should also be wary of granting Uncle Sam a peephole into their homes, offices, and private interactions.
“Whose to say the next [organization targeted] isn’t going to be a community organizing group or the Sierra Club?” Mayor Lonegan warned, a preview of the message he hopes to deliver to every corner of the Garden State. He also emphases that he opposes, “the massive data collection that will take place under the IRS control of healthcare, and of children under the Common Core Standards, which will collect [students’] blood types, what shows they watch on TV, and what shows their parents watch. How do we know how far they will go?”
Republicans have warmly received Mayor Lonegan’s message, but there is still a way to go before partisan Democrats, many of whom are enthused about the candidacies of Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Representative Frank Pallone (D-6), neither of whom have committed themselves to protecting individual privacy from the NSA, will debate this issue.
“I think the Democrats are in the position to either attack and criticize their president for his abusing power, stay silent on it, or defend it,” said Mayor Lonegan. “Your not going to walk away from this with cliché statements like: ‘I look forward to a robust discussion on security and surveillance [as Cory Booker stated].’ That’s not good enough. That’s like saying on abortion: ‘I look forward to a robust discussion’…Don’t just walk away with a flippant comment.”
Mayor Lonegan represents the latest in a line of libertarian-minded candidates for federal office. Though New Jersey is not known for its Rightwing thinking, the aspiring Senator believes that a deep respect for individual liberty permeates the entire country and such values don’t diminish when one crosses the boarder into New Jersey.
“I have always believed libertarianism is the basis of conservatism,” said Mayor Lonegan. “You can’t be a conservative if you oppose individual liberty.”
Photo Credit: northjersey.com