It is a well documented fact that when the American electorate is frightened for their safety, they are more likely to vote for more conservative candidates. That is especially true when those candidates favor taking steps to protect the public from the lurking danger. So we shouldn’t be surprised that conservative politicians often over dramatize whatever danger is currently in the news to their own advantage and then offer to protect us by employing drastic tactics which conflict with our American values and which are often unnecessary.
Unfortunately, our country’s history is littered with examples. We locked up Americans of Japanese descent during World War. As part of our “War on Terror” we have tortured prisoners and imprisoned others indefinitely with no access to our justice system. Lately we even tried to temporarily imprison healthcare workers returning from Africa, all in the name of ensuring greater public safety. In each of these cases there was considerable reason to believe that the measures taken were not effective and/or were totally unnecessary.
When did we become so willing to sacrifice the rights of others on the alter of our personal safety. We too often seem more than willing to send the brave young men and women in our military into battle “to defend our rights”. However, when it comes to our personal safety, we seem to be more than willing to give away the rights for which many have died in exchange for some tiny additional measure of safety. Another pertinent question is why do we allow unscrupulous politicians to frighten us unnecessarily in the first place.
Certainly this lack of willingness to take even small risk to protect our rights is not our heritage. Conservatives like to boost that they inherited their values from our forefathers. However, the people who founded our country were not adverse to risk when it came to defending their rights. They put everything on the line risking their property, their livelihoods, and even very lives and that of their families to secure the rights we have today. And they knew that if their quest to secure their rights resulted in war, the battles would be fought in their backyards. They also knew that if they lost that war the British would hang them as traitors. We are indeed cowards if we are willing to give away those rights for which so many have died defending for some small measure of additional safety.