As the story developed, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John Boehner (R-Ohio) called Snowden a traitor, while Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) criticized the NSA’s secretive project. Liberal Glenn Greenwald and conservative Glenn Beck praised Snowden as heroic while the Weekly Standard and MSNBC defended the importance of the NSA snooping.
We’ll learn a lot more in the coming weeks and months about Snowden’s motivations and the PRISM program, but what is clear is that this story has shaken up long-standing ideological categories and party allegiances. When self-identified leftists are accusing President Obama of violating the U.S. Constitution, there is a huge opportunity for the liberty movement.
The old guard in both parties want the NSA story to just go away, so they are trying to turn it into a personality-driven feeding frenzy. This early on, I have no idea if Snowden is a bad guy or a great guy. But the story isn’t about him—it’s about our rights.
How might this debate shape the 2014 midterm elections? It’s unclear at this point if this civil liberties debate will shift any swing elections, but one thing is clear: The NSA scandal (and others) present a rare opportunity to unite both the left and right in building a larger population of Constitution-conscious voters. That’s gotta be a good thing, right?