Lights are twinkling on tree branches, calendars have reached their last pages, and — soon enough — there will be nostalgic columns written about the year just passed. These columns would be remiss to skip over Edward Snowden’s leaks regarding the National Security Administration’s domestic surveillance of American citizens.
It isn’t necessary to regale you with a summary of the whole kerfuffle: the massive compilations of Americans’ metadata; the cloak & dagger intrigue of spy stories surrounding Snowden himself; the public reevaluation of the scope of the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA); and the original Representative who introduced the USA PATRIOT Act to House (Jim Sensenbrenner himself) coming out against the NSA’s activities.
One of the many things that happened way back then — what feels like eons ago — was colloquially referred to as “the Amash Amendment.” It was strongly supported by the eponymous representative of Michigan’s third district. The bill aimed at halting the collection of data from people not under any criminal investigation. It failed 217-205 along bipartisan lines. Here’s the roll call.
Amash brought similar legislation to the floor again, just this past week on December 3rd. The USA Freedom Act was sponsored by 102 representatives, comprising of 51 Republicans and 51 Democrats. It doesn’t get more bipartisan than that.
Representatives are still willing to bring attention to this issue and press the House to support new legislation to reel in the scope of the NSA’s power. Right now the USA Freedom Act’s sponsors are working to get Speaker John Boehner to bring the bill to the floor.
Here’s a chance for those Republicans who didn’t support their colleagues the first time around to get on board.
It’s no surprise that it’s difficult to build a coalition against the NSA in light of the strange bedfellows coming together in support of the agency’s domestic surveillance. Where else are John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Bachmann, and Dianne Feinstein uniting in a show of approval?
However, when “Auld Lang Syne” narrates the flurries of ticker tape over couples kissing in the frigid weather, the year will click over to those four numbers people have been looking towards these past twelve months:
It’s worth taking a second look at those year-end wrap-up columns as they wax poetic about the consequences of Snowden’s leaks and the man himself. Not only are the NSA’s actions a matter of protecting individuals’ liberties — but, at a crasser level, fighting for those liberties is a winning issue.
Taking a stand against Big Government to defend the rights of each and every citizen is popular. In fact, it’s rather popular among the voting bracket that Obama version 2012 relied on: the “millennial” 18-29 age bracket. Well, saying “rather popular” is an understatement:
They really, really don’t like the NSA.
55% and 61%. More than half of millennials do not want the government monitoring them in any way. As Freddoso says, “[A] pretty radical position, since one of the options might involve the government merely following you on Twitter.” And consider the percentage of millennials that use Twitter.
2014 is here. House Representatives run for office every two years. They’ll be ramping up their campaigns before we know it. Not to mention the 35 Senate seats in contention.
Election potential is one of the other facets of the NSA scandal – beyond the agency’s flagrant disregard for civil liberties. Hey, maybe it’s not a bad idea to be instrumental in the pushback against Big Government. Millennials are going to the polls – 60% of them came out to vote in 2012. They were invaluable to President Obama’s win. He won millennials by 67% to 30%.
With the midterms coming up, I suspect the millennial turnout will be smaller, but that’s no reason to reject the invitation to fight. Besides, the NSA is unpopular among the general population too — 77% of self-identified Republicans said the NSA’s surveillance is an invasion of privacy back in July 2013.
When it comes to millennials in particular, David Freddoso at Conservative Intel points out that they are becoming more conservative. Maybe they’re turning away from the continued broken promises and the pretzeled liberal lexicon in spite of all those pundits’ predictions. Maybe they’re repulsed by the administration’s blatant hypocrisy with regards to civil liberties.
Millennials don’t like Obamacare. 40% of them stated that they think the ACA will increase costs and decrease quality. They disapprove of how President Obama handles healthcare, the economy, the deficit, Syria, and Iran. 52% of millennials aged 18-24 said they would support recalling President Obama. With ages 25-29 factored in, 47% of millennials would agree with it. Bear in mind there are no executive office recalls.
Now the possibility of a long-term continuation of this trend can’t be predicted from only a handful of elections. 2014 will be another litmus test of the millennial vote.
Executive Editor Amy Otto offered her own interpretation of the phenomenon of the young conservative (ages 18-24 specifically). Managing Editor Anna Morris has suggested some ways the GOP can appeal to young voters.
As a millennial myself — in the middle-end of the bracket at age 25 — my inclusion makes it difficult to translate the data into my own hypothesis. Whatever causal theory is presented, the current political landscape lends itself to appealing to engaged millennials.
And those millennials really, really don’t like the NSA.
Liberty is popular. Here’s the opportunity to take the torch.