It is extremely revealing that the topic of civil rights and liberties is all but absent from the campaigns of the Democratic and Republican party presidential candidates. Concerned citizens will search in vain for any serious discussion of the issue on the websites of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Indeed, neither campaign has bothered to address the issue in their speeches, interviews or informational materials, except, perhaps, insofar as extant rights and liberties might hinder their plans to “enhance” the power of the state at the expense of those rights and liberties. Of course, given the ongoing bipartisan “war on civil liberties” being waged by the Democratic and Republican parties, this is only to be expected from their candidates for president.
Fortunately for concerned citizens, however, there are alternatives such as Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. For Libertarian Gary Johnson, the importance of civil liberties is clear enough. The candidate’s website places the topic of civil liberties on a equal footing with issues such as the economy, education and foreign policy. On civil liberties, the Johnson campaign states:
Today, government has created for itself sweeping powers to monitor the private lives of individuals and otherwise intrude upon our daily activities, our households and our businesses. The extent of the government’s reach today would be unrecognizable to the Founders.
Johnson thus calls for an end to the “assault on privacy” through the repeal of the so-called Patriot Act, respect for Habeas Corpus, and the establishment of rational security measures and procedures in executive agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration. He further states that government must remain neutral regarding personal beliefs, including such issues as abortion, stem cell research and marriage.
Civil rights and liberties also feature prominently in the platform of Green Party candidate Jill Stein. The Green Party’s platform, known as the Green New Deal, places its discussion of civil rights and liberties under the rubric of building a functioning democracy. Among other things, the Greens call for the explicit establishment of the right to vote for all American citizens strengthened by the creation of a Voters’ Bill of Rights. Stein also calls for the repeal of the so-called Patriot Act as well as those provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act that would allow the government to indefinitely detain citizens engaged in the exercise of their constitutional rights.
Stein furthermore states that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security must be expressly prohibited from conspiring with local police forces to suppress the rights to freedom of speech and assembly. In a recent interview with Kevin Gosztola at FireDogLake, Stein stated:
There’s reasons for all of us to be standing up and fighting to restore our civil liberties, now fighting for all they’re worth, because they continue to be stolen out from under us in a way which is extremely dangerous and does not bode well for the future. . . . It’s really critical that we stand up now to take back our civil liberties, including just across the board our right to First Amendment, to free speech, to protest, to petition government for redress of grievances.
What are your greatest concerns regarding the issue of civil rights and liberties as we head toward the November elections?