There is a significant percentage of people here at DKos who think that "Yawn" is the proper response to the NSA spying scandal. Most of them are convinced that the outrage can only be explained by partisan attacks (as if the only reason someone could care about civil rights is for partisan reasons).
These people are correct about one thing: this scandal will eventually die down.
The news media, with the attention span of a 2-year old, will get distracted by some reality TV show personality. The politicians in Washington D.C. simply couldn't care less about civil rights, so they will move on too.
Does that mean that the half-life of the spying scandal is almost over?
Not even close. This is going to go on and on and on.
One of the arguments of the cynics, who think we need to just get over it, is that civil rights abuses are nothing new to America. So why get excited now?
Besides the offensiveness of suggesting that since you've been screwed before, you should just "relax and enjoy it" this time, the cynics are overlooking the fundamental fact here:
it affects all of us now.
This isn't like Driving-While-Brown or Flying-While-Muslim.
This isn't something that happens to "other people", so you can simply not care if you don't want to.
Scandals that effect a small minority (or even a large minority) eventually die out because they depend on the news media to keep us aware of them.
The spying scandal affects each and every one of us.
There is no half-life on a scandal in which no one is exempt!
And how often will you think about it? Every single time you access the internet.
That means every single time you text on your cell phone. Every single time you call a friend. Every single time you surf the web. Every single time you post to DKos.
It's being recorded every single time.
Will it be analyzed? Probably not, but that sort of makes it worse because you will never know.
And do you think that once the news media moves on that people will stop talking about it? This is the stuff of dark comedy. People will be making bitter jokes about this to friends over drinks and over lunch with coworkers.
Another point that the cynics have is that we don't know how big the scandal is (i.e. how much abuse), so we shouldn't get too excited about it until we do.
First of all, everyone, from tech giant CEO's to NSA executives, has been lying about it, so if you are waiting for an official report on this that you can trust then you are wasting your time.
We are only going to find out how much abuse there has been through whistleblowers. There is no other method.
Secondly, the government has a long history of abuses when it comes to domestic spying. You can be sure there will be more revelations of abuses.
Every time a new whistleblower reveals new abuses this will resurface in the news media. The scandal will be born anew and more people will turn against the policy.
What sorts of new abuses will we hear about? It's hard to say, but we've already seen domestic spying abuses such as targeting peaceful protest groups.
How long until people lose jobs over something they said in confidence to friends or family? How long until people are blackmailed into being unwilling spies against their political groups?
Or maybe the next big revelation will be something as banal as low-level NSA agents using the private phone-sex conversations of husbands and wives to masterbate to. That seems like something the news media would love to discover, since it appeals to the lowest common denominator.
Then there is the other side of the coin: companies are swapping information with the government.
What information are they getting in return? Are they using this info to crush competing small businesses? Are there other civil rights issues involved? Chances are that we will one day find out the answer to this question too.
One way or another, this scandal will flare up again and again. This is the scandal that will not die.
My final point concerns the people who are convinced that this scandal is all about getting Obama.
Unfortunately there are millions of people like this in this country that simply lack a clue.
When Bush was president, Republicans supported the program by a three-to-one margin (75 percent) and Democrats were nearly as strong in their opposition (61 percent). A similar partisan breakdown existed on the question of e-mail monitoring: Most Republicans (53 to 38 percent) thought it should be allowed; most Democrats (51 to 41 percent) thought it should be forbidden.It goes back further. When Clinton was president Republicans were outraged to the point of paranoid about their civil rights. That concern vanished in a heart-beat when Bush became president.
Flash forward to today and a Democratic president. Now Republicans are essentially split on the acceptability of NSA surveillance (52 percent favor it; 47 percent oppose it), while a strong majority of Democrats (64 percent) supports the program. The two parties—but Democrats especially—have changed position. On the issue of e-mail monitoring, the partisan flip-flop is clearer still: Republicans favored it under Bush, but oppose it under Obama; Democrats opposed it under Bush, but favor it under Obama.
Unfortunately, nearly as many Democrats are also blinded by partisanship when it comes to civil rights.
I have a message to these people:
Not all of us are as blinded by partisanship as you are! Many of us actually care about the Bill of Rights. It's not just a "damn piece of paper" as you seem to believe.
You may never believe me, or even understand why someone could care about an issue more than a political party, but that isn't going to change the facts. And the sooner you come to grips with this the better your political party will be.
One day, somewhere in the future, some bright politician in Washington is going to realize that the swing voters in his district actually do care about the Bill of Rights.
He's going to run on a platform for restoring liberty and he's going to win big. Eventually the news media is going to notice. Then there will be a sudden rush to embrace freedom in Washington D.C. (as opposed to just wrapping yourself in the flag). Suddenly all the politicians are going to claim that they fought for the Bill of Rights "when it wasn't cool".
For those partisans out there, I suggest you get on board this train before it leaves the station.