Is there this much worry about losing freedom with every American President?

Ever since Bush was elected and especially since 9/11 there’s been stories like all over the place worrying about how Bush is turning the US into a police state and ruining the constitution. And stuff.

I don’t remember worries like these during Clintons time, just stuff about how he was making a mockery of the Presidency. And stuff.

I’m not much of a student of US political history, 1 cause I’m not a US citizen and 2 cause it’s not really one of my interests.

I’m wondering if news sources (sites, newspapers, magazines) have always had stories about how the current president is undermining the constitution or ruining the freedom of the people, etc etc.

Is that just with the current government or has it always been so?

Sorry, I don’t have an answer for you, Silentgoldfish, but I think you did your link thingy backwards. Here it is.

It’s pretty common with Rebublican presidents. There are certain elements that look for every possible event that can get people scared about the possibility of losing all rights to a rebublican. With Democratic presidents it usually ends up with attempts try to get people riled up with every event that they can make it seem like a loss of family values or morality.

Whoops! Thanks.

It’s been a recurring theme as long as I can remember; really, throughout the nation’s history. There’s a phenomenon, the name of which escapes me now, wherein Presidents of every stripe lose some of their concern for individual liberties once they become The Federal Government.

I can recall concerns about erosion civil liberties during the Clinton years, the elder Bush years, the Reagan years, the Carter years, (hmm…nothin pops to mind for the Ford years) the Nixon years and the LBJ years. That’s about as far back as I was paying attention.

My republican buddies were not impressed with Clinton’s commitment to their freedom issues, specifically gun ownership and ATF troops at Janet Reno’s beck and call. They find Bush and Ashcroft a step up.

Many of these guys are career military men with a particular dislike for Hillary Clinton.

Secret tribunals, and and Mr. Ashcroft, who has publicly stated that he is opposed to the very idea of civil liberties is a cause for concern. The circumstances surrounding Mr.Bush’s election are shady to say the least.
The election(?) of a son so close after the Administration of a father is a poor precedent. And the rhetoric of all the Bush family members has smacked of the imperial/royalist mindset. Bush the Elder frequently refered to the USA in his speeches as an “empire”. We are a Republic, darn it! :mad:

I think this is an interesting question, in that I wonder exactly how much freedom we “Americans,” or those people currently residing in the United States have lost.

I haven’t lost any.

But then again, I’m a 33 year old white male, so I’m not exactly a prime suspect for committing acts of terror.

So, excatly what freedoms have been taken away from the people living in the United States?

The “freedom” to carry knives onto an airplane?

Fine by me that you can’t do that anymore?

If anything has been lost it is, I think a good bit of the US’s sense of arrogance and aura of “nothing can touch us.”

Just my opinion, but it actually seems to me that these voices of civil liberty seem loudest during Democratic administrations, not Republican. I think that it’s because these people tend to be political rightists whose civil liberty concerns center around issues such as gun control (or lack thereof), and who certainly feel more comfortable with the GOP at the helm than the commynistical Democrats. Anyone remember the sight of middle-aged men in camos and semiautomatics after the Waco Barbecue?

That being said, it’s interesting to see this phenomenon crop up now under Dubya. That’s due to two things: the lingering stench from the election and the antiterrorist measures he is trying to put in place following 9/11. IMHO, a bit refreshing, although it’s disconcerting to think we might be entrusting our civil liberties to the walking oxymoron that is the Democratic Organization.

BTW, I speak as one who consistently votes Democratic. (Which in the Bay Area makes me an unrepentant right-winger.)

I quite happily carried a small folding knife/screwdriver unit on my keychain for years. Now there are too many self-important power-toadies dying to frown at me and take it away in order to prove their commitment to homeland security. So I don’t carry it anymore. The next time I need to fix something out in the middle of nowhere, and I find that my toolkit is at home where no one can be murdered with it, I will curse the president and all the fools who say we haven’t lost any significant civil liberties. No other administration ever did anything like this to me, and I remember quite a few.

My opinion (before a mod moves this into IMHO, where it belongs):

There are all sorts of “rights” that American have. Giving the government more power or authority means taking away “rights” from someone.

Many of the “rights” Americans have “protect” them from the government, specifically from the police. We have a right to a trial by our peers, which prevents a tyranical government from arbitrarily convicting people it doesn’t like. We have a right to the so-called Miranda warnings, which means we protects us from coerced confessions, etc. Some of our rights are from the government itself. Our first ammendment rights to peacably assemble and practice religion prevent the government from passing laws against these things.

In general, Republican administrations tend to advocate more law enforcement powers. Democratic administrations tend to want to expand the federal governments powers to protect people from state government laws it considers “repressive,” for example, if there weren’t a Supreme Court ruling preventing it, many states would decide to outlaw abortion.

So most of the time the charge of the government taking away our rights usually is in the form of increased police powers, which are more often aggressively persued by Republican administrations. Sometimes it is along the lines of “taking away our right to smoke wherever we want” or “taking away our right to carry a gun” which tend to be more agressively persued by Democratic administrations.

Either way. I think most of the time we are talking about very subtle changes. In the current case, however, Bush and Ashcroft are using the public’s fear generated by the events of 9/11 to make MAJOR changes in the fundamental rights of Americans. The right not to be held indefinately without being charged with a crime, for example. Even if you trust the current administration (which may or may not be the case), who can predict what will ake place in 10 or 20 or 100 years from now? Giving the government this type of power (or taking away these degree of rights) will allow a corrupt or tyrannial government the ability to rid itself of its opponents as well as “criminals.”

That’s why the cries are louder now than in the past.

Bosca - I don’t suppose you’d care to provide a source for your claim that George H. W. Bush referred to the United States as an empire, would you?

  • Rick

Yes, this sort of thing occurs with every president. If the archives are still there (I don’t know how long slashdot keeps them around), you can see similar articles about Clinton with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Reno running wild, drug war, FBI abuses, and other similar incidents. For every ‘evil Bush/Ashcroft’ abuse, there’s a similar ‘evil Clinton/Reno’ abuse to point to, and contrary to what richardb says law enforcement is not a purely republican phenominon - witness the expansion of the War on Certain Drugs under Clinton’s era (a nice hit on the 4th amendment there), his push for universal gun registration, expansion of the number of federal agents, his support of ‘hate crime’ laws, and various other expansions of LE’s powers.

Because of 9-11 there is a legitimate concern regarding the presidents war powers. The Bush administration is currently arguing that it has the legal power to declare war on Iraq without further consent from Congress. If they pull it off it would probably be the most significant Consititution-defying of precedents in American history.


I might be getting whooshed here but are you effing serious? Do you have a cite? If this is true then why aren’t people up in arms about it?

Yeah, that can’t be completely accurate, since Ashcroft reversed the official stance on the 2nd Amendment…

I definitely have some concerns about some things that are going on, but he’s not totally bad.

How long has this been going on? Well, there’s always the Alien & Sedition Act of 1800 (which, in a nutshell, made it illegal for anyone to say anything bad about the current government,) signed into law by none other than John Adams, a signatory to the Declaration of Independence and our nation’s second President.

It’s basically been downhill ever since.

A right-wing friend of mine recently waxed indignant over being refused admission to an airplane until he discarded an NRA souvenir bullet with Charlton Heston’s autograph on it. He claimed it was a result of political correctness in general, Bill and Hillary in particular, and proved that the world was going to hell in a handcart.

I informed him that another friend of mine (right-leaning, not right-wing) had the same thing happen (albeit with a real bullet) when going into an airport in 1980. The reason? Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan was in the airport. I may be going out on a limb here, but I don’t think Bill and Hillary were responsible for that incident. (To his credit, my friend didn’t blame Jimmy Carter).

The right-wing friend denied this had any bearing on his claims about the world/handcart thing.

Americans of extreme political leanings (lefties are guilty of it too) tend to portray themselves as victims – while, of course, chiding the other side for doing the same thing.