First off, I want to say ‘what up’ to Obama, since he’s clearly reading every blog page.
There has been an explosion of internet traffic and outrage over the Patriot Act as it has been up for review, exposing many of the implications of this Act into mainstream media, which I have found both morbidly amusing and extremely infuriating. No, I am not defending the Patriot Act; I believe the Patriot Act to be a travesty on civil liberties and the beginning of a slippery slope for the government. I hope the three sections up for review are allowed to expire.
However, I am not here to debate either the right/wrong or the constitutionality/un-constitutionality of the Patriot Act, that is for you to decide for yourself. Here’s two articles to get you started:
The USA PATRIOT Act or the Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act, is nothing new, but with the growth of the internet and our increasing dependence on the internet, the implications have reached new, unsettling levels. This is likely the main reason for the outrage displayed over the past week. The ‘government’ is reading your tweets, stalking your Facebook pictures, and cycling through your Tumblrs. Because, you know, it’s not like ‘they’ have better things to do, like, oh, govern?
Anyway. The Patriot Act was signed into law in 2001. Twelve years later, the Patriot Act is nothing new, but the attention is. Twelve years ago, following the 9/11 tragedy, the American people were dazed, devastated, and angry—very angry. The American people wanted a response, most supporting a military one, and in the frenzy that followed, too many of the American people were willing to ignore the Patriot Act if it assisted in capturing this vague idea of ‘terrorists.’ However, as an unfortunate minority tried to show, the natural consequences of this Act were rather obvious. That this has become an issue shouldn’t be surprising; We The People said it was okay, but twelve years later, with the mainstream interest in the War on Terrorism having largely ebbed, the American people suddenly realize they don’t much care for the implications of such a radical Act.
While I do not absolve the government officials of any blame, the design of our American democracy ultimately places the responsibility for the government upon We The People. The design of our government was built upon the idea that if the government over stepped their boundaries, the people could force the government in a different direction, by making their voices heard and their votes used. The Constitution was constructed upon the novel idea that the government should beholden to the people, not the other way around. Here in America, we have the ability—the responsibility—to be the change we want to see. And therein is the heart of my frustration.
At least in the past decade, Americans love to complain, but hate doing anything. The development of social media only increased this favorite pastime. Thanks to our First Amendment, Americans have perfected the skill of sitting behind a computer and complaining to one another on the internet. However, a small few of America actually close their laptops, walk out the door and do anything about their frustrations. We learn, in school, about the civil rights March on Washington, the Vietnam protests, and other historical movements. These, ladies and gentlemen, are democracy at work.
Unfortunately, we have reached a point that maybe 50% of American even vote in each presidential election, and drastically less on a state and municipal level. In a country where we can be the change we want to see, Americans take this for granted and do nothing. Frankly, no one cares what you say on Facebook or Twitter. No one is listening. Social media can be important for raising awareness, but when it devolves into a source of narcissistic satisfaction for ‘participating’ in protesting social injustices, social media loses it’s importance. No one cares about Trending Topics: they’ll be different tomorrow. Wait a news-cycle, the American people will get bored with the current outrage and find something new to be upset about.
Therefore, in a most jaded and cynical way, I simply can’t be upset about the implications of the Patriot Act, should it be renewed. We The People are responsible for our government, blaming the government is an indirect indictment of the American people. The moment We The People remembered this and assumed our constitutionally guaranteed place of leadership is the moment that real change will happen. The moment the American electorate stop ignoring their civil responsibility is the moment America will once again represent the lost values people often bemoan.
You have a choice:
Stand up; energize and organize your family, friends, and community to act; and be the change you want to see.
Do nothing and watch as things continue to worsen, narrated by exclusive commentary via your social media. But, if I were you, I’d smash your computer because Obama and them Feds are coming for you.