This blog text is tagged "civil liberties" and about the "Freedom" in "Defence and Freedom". Some visitors think this is only a military blog and such topics are outside of its scope, but what's the point of defending freedom against foreign power if powers within have already taken it away?* Civil liberties topics are one of the 'big four' of this blog.
Stewart mocks the hypocrisy of some U.S. politician on domestic spying. I would embed the video, but it misbehaves (starts on its own et cetera), so feel free to watch it at this link.
Satire is a wonderful tool to expose such a hypocrisy, but normal news reports show it as well. All it takes to see it is to read between the lines or even only compare different news reports.
It was all-too obvious that German politicians reacted loudly to reports about espionage on them (such as for example on their phones), but created merely a faint response to reports about how their constituents were being spied on by a foreign country.
This is the classic principal-agent problem; the people can't do all by themselves as a group, so they delegate tasks to agents who then apply their own view of the world, their own preferences - and rarely do what's in the groups' best interest.
But this goes deeper; politicians have in my opinion two attitude problems:
(a) They think of themselves too highly.
This is a major obstacle to the addition or even only maintenance of safeties against governmental power abuse. National-level politicians don't think of themselves as a threat to our liberties, so why shackle themselves with rules? A better question should be 'why would you even notice the limitations on your power if your actions are never outrageous enough to encounter said abuse-preventing limitations?'
This problem is especially evident in discussions about domestic spying and internet censorship. These naive politicians actually believe censorship is fine if they are in control, after all they're benevolent and the censorship was only meant against *insert bogeyman of the year here* any way.
NO, no censorship, period.
The same applies to domestic spying, surveillance and data retention efforts. The political plans in these directions are often as much unconstitutional as the canned censorship idea.
(b) They don't trust their constituents.
That's actually illogical, after all those untrustworthy people have chosen the politicians for high office in the first place, right?
This distrust is especially evident when it comes to discussions about plebiscites. Supposedly, we the people are perfectly capable of making a wise decision to vote for entire parties with entire political programs for a duration of four year full of unanticipated events, but we are too emotionally unstable and too easily manipulated when the vote is about one specific, published bill that's been discussed publicly for months.
And of course we're untrustworthy, as we're potentially criminals. I strongly doubt that the crime rate is lower among the general populace than among national-level politicians, though. We have seen enough scandals, including people serving in the federal Cabinet after being found guilty of crimes.
But the dangers, political extremism, lack of understanding of democracy - national-level politicians seem to see these problems only among the general population (and among the members of some party which never happens to be a ruling party on the federal level).
It would be nice if somehow our political culture would evolve beyond this attitude problem. This is unlikely to happen any time soon, though. The political elite is talking too much to itself and its own entourage. Political discussion TV shows are mere entertainment, using politics as pretext and politicians as easily available, free and already famous actors.
Nobody seemed to be able to hammer the idea that any censorship is wrong into the head of the minister who proposed internet censorship. Guess what? Said minister is as of now in command of our armed forces.
To propose censorships should equal instant political career suicide, but it wasn't. That, if nothing else, should be enough motivation for everyone to get more politically active and to push for improvements of the political system and the political culture.