With the release of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the usage of the term Big Brother was born. Citizens have expressed that the government was treading too heavily on citizens’ lives, and it needed to be reduced. Anti-tax hero forgotten star Grover Norquist once stated, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” While I would argue the federal government has vastly expanded in size and overreach, it is not in the way most of its critics think of it.
Gun rights advocates incorrectly state that President Obama and his supposed bigger government are “coming for your guns”. He has been more gun-friendly than Mitt Romney or former President George W. Bush, but even that is not the biggest criticism. Short of a few militia groups, most gun rights advocates also call for a larger military. The NRA has stated that their fight for 2nd Amendment rights is not just for hunting but to overthrow a tyrannical government if need be. So, the same people that want a small government also want such a powerful military that it would be impossible to overthrow with guns. This is not the only issue with our military, as they have become larger than the 14 next largest militaries (and most of those are allies).
The use of drones to advance the power of the government and military must be kept in check. Coupled with propaganda and tactical secrecy, drones can be used to take out a family across the globe with very little reason to do so. According to Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films, Pakistani civilians are starting to join the Taliban after witnessing unwarranted killings of the drones. In Iran, an American Drone was shot down, fueling war tensions. In addition, drones are being used with militarized police units and other agencies that probably shouldn’t need them. In addition to the aerial attacks, the surveillance of Americans is getting way out of hand.
The Ninth Circuit Court Appeals recently made it legal for cops to videotape you and your house without your permission or a warrant. After the wiretapping of the Bush years and the renewed warrantless wiretapping under the Obama Administration, the freedoms of individuals will continue to diminish unless citizens protest. Even after documents showed that U.S. officials already had warnings of terrorist attacks before September 11, the Bush Administration still increased spying on citizens. The surveillance was incredibly ineffectual and racist. Under President Obama, there exists a “kill list” and the possibility that American citizens can be indefinitely detained and killed without legal review. The law is not sickening just in passage but the degree to which it has already been used: more people were targeted by federal warrantless surveillance in the past two years than the entire decade before that. I find it highly unsurprising that right round the time in-home videotaping was legalized, the FBI launches a $1 billion face recognition project. Not only will they be able to invasively witness citizens in private settings, they’ll have computers to pick them out of a crowd with 92 percent accuracy. Cameras are not the only outlet for government surveillance though.
The FBI has increased email surveillance on private citizens and the military. The Huffington Post reports that a warrant is required for email spying, thankfully. The same web page indicates most of the leaders of giant tech companies donate almost exclusively to Democrats, with the few exceptions involving companies with monopolistic tendencies. If the government secretly spied on you, you also have to go out of your way to prove it. Other aspects of the internet have become compromised as well. In the face of inflated claims from certain media outlets that the United Nations will steal our internet, the real trouble is from their supporters within the country. Lamar Smith (R-TX) proposed a bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that would infringe on the first amendment rights of citizens, requiring them to take down content without adequate review. Luckily, millions of internet users protested, leading to the early abandonment of the law.
When it comes to conventional criticism of big government, I say let it happen. If that means taking care of our veterans or first responders, restoring public sector jobs to levels before Obama, or helping out citizens after a hurricane, I say keep it coming. But when it means expanding the CIA to practically become the 6th branch of the military, the powers that be must be greatly reduced. The United States can lead the world in technology and innovation, but it should not be used to police every aspect of domestic and global citizens’ lives.