June 30, 2008

FISA Delay Buys Time for Activism

Although the mainstream media has been reporting that the Bush/Hoyer FISA "compromise" is virtually uncontested and expected to sail through the Senate, grassroots activism among progressives has had some measurable impact. In fact, the Senate vote has been delayed due to opposition. Just who do we have to thank for having the courage to stand up for the Constitution? Senators Dodd, Feingold, and Bingaman appear to be the key players in the Senate. This gives us more time to contact our own Senators and ask them to oppose any measure which grants telecom immunity.

Initially pitched as a bipartisan compromise, the GOP is now claiming victory over the America-hating Democratic Party. Once it became clear that Democrats were going to cave in large numbers, it appears that it is no longer necessary to maintain the illusion of compromise.

Many Democratic voters will end up deciding that this legislation is acceptable because Obama supports it. Since Obama supporting bad policy is difficult to reconcile with support for Obama, many will conclude that the deal must not be that bad in order to maintain their support for Obama. Others will be forced to seriously question their continued support for Obama.

For the record, I am well aware that candidates of both parties tend to cater to their respective bases to win the nomination and then intentionally move toward the opposite end of the political spectrum in the general election campaign. They trust their base to come along, even as they betray them. Don't be fooled into thinking that this is only happening to Obama. The Republican Party may lose some conservatives once McSame's nomination is official.

Just because I am aware that this is usually how things work in American politics does not mean that I am happy with it. I think giving blanket immunity to the telecoms after they submitted to Bush's criminal demands is a massive mistake and an issue on which we should press our elected officials to take a stand.

To learn more about why this matters and what is at stake here, I encourage you to read this letter from Senators Dodd and Feingold.