New Jersey governor Chris Christie deserves huge honesty points for his vision of a new 21st century America. Donald Trump's paeans to Mussolini-style fascism reside in vague appeals to "national greatness" and his own "leadership." Christie comes right out and shows us the dark policy specifics of his desire to turn the United States into a technologically advanced version of Erich Honecker's East Germany.
His latest: Tracking people "like FedEx packages."
Granted, he limits the proposal to foreigners entering the US on visas, for purposes of preventing illegal visa overstays. And he's light on details. An RFID chip in the physical visa or passport, maybe? But what if the foreigner leaves that document in a drawer? How to track him then? Maybe implant the chip beneath the skin on entry and pull it out on exit? Who knows?
The technical details that aren't that important, although they do sound pretty creepy. The threat is embedded in the idea itself.
As someone — not Thomas Jefferson, although it's often attributed to him — once said, "a government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have."
A government big enough to track every foreigner from entry to exit is a government big enough to track YOU — your location and your activities — from cradle to grave.
A government big enough to track you from cradle to grave is a government big enough to CONTROL you from cradle to grave.
Anyone who proposes such a scheme is crazy, evil, or both ... and should never, ever be allowed anywhere near the levers of political power.
Unfortunately, nearly all of the "major party" presidential candidates, and lots of lower-level politicians and bureaucrats, are on board with schemes like this, in one form or another.
"Real ID" to put everyone's n right to travel under federal government control . "Background checks" to control and monitor gun ownership. "Voter ID" scams to manipulate the electoral impact of minority populations. "E-Verify," which conscripts employers into unpaid agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement gang. You name it, it's either done or some prominent politician is talking it up. Christie just happens to be the most vocal and honest representative of that line of thinking.
If you're reading this, chances are pretty good that you plan to vote in next year's presidential election. And if you're going to do that, why not draw some red lines, come up with some litmus tests, instead of just resigning yourself to the usual futile attempt to discern the lesser evil? Any promise other than to roll back the surveillance state should be an instant disqualifier for the presidency.
Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).