Lyles: Another example of ‘Gesture Liberalism’
By Dick Lyles
President Obama’s response to the NSA domestic spying scandal is simply one more example of “Gesture Liberalism” which has become the hallmark of his presidency.
Gesture Liberalism is a phrase coined by George Will that refers to problem-solving initiatives by liberals that create great fanfare but do nothing to solve the problem. Hence they become mere gestures rather than real solutions.
The stimulus package was Gesture Liberalism — hundreds of billions squandered that resulted in no significant economic stimulus. So was the contraception mandate — which has nothing to do with health care insurance, the purpose of which is to protect against unexpected developments. The current move to raise the minimum wage is another example. According to Will, “Less than 3 percent of the workforce earns the minimum; more than 60 percent of those who do earn it get a raise within a year; more than half of minimum wage earners are students or other part-time workers from households with average incomes of $53,000.” The mandate is simply a gesture to the liberal devotion to “equality.”
Likewise, Mr. Obama’s proposal regarding the NSA’s domestic spying is nothing more than an empty gesture toward every American’s concerns about their constitutional right to privacy. It is also an example of his “ready, fire, aim” approach to solving problems. He develops a solution without thinking through its implementation and America inherits the mess.
Most Americans think it is wrong that the NSA is collecting vast amounts of data about everyone’s cell phone and email conversations. Mr. Obama’s proposal does nothing to curtail this. Rather he suggests that private sector contractors should store the data rather than have the government store it. Then government agencies would have access to the data through secret channels with permission granted by secret courts. Really?
Of all the organizations Americans should trust implicitly now, it is private sector allies of the Obama administration. Who would run these organizations? Word has it the Solyndra management team is looking for work. Or maybe we could hire the geniuses who designed the Obamacare website.
The problem isn’t where the data is stored. The problem is that the data is being collected. History has proven time and again that when people are put in a position to abuse their power and trust — particularly to advance their own causes or self-interest — they will abuse that power.
It almost appears that Mr. Obama is trying to convince us that if he creates a mini-bureaucracy that is sufficiently complex, we should feel protected because it will be too complex to work, let alone work against us.
Liberals asked Americans to trust them when they railroaded Obamacare through without allowing those who voted for it to read it first. The results speak for themselves. Now Mr. Obama is asking us to trust him to work out a scheme to protect us from misuse of government data about us that should never be collected in the first place.
The first time they abuse us, shame on them. If we continue to let them abuse us, shame on us.
No one, including Mr. Obama, has made a case for collecting and storing this data. When the initial protocols were installed following 9/11, no one predicted it would go this far. To blame this on previous administrations is frivolous and irresponsible. On top of that it is irrelevant.
The only relevant fact is that our government is inappropriately invading the privacy of every American today and it should stop. There is no compelling case to do otherwise.
Lyles, a Poway resident, is a business/management consultant and best-selling author. Reader comments, through letters to the editor or online , are encouraged.
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