New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has no patience for people who are concerned that the government might be violating their civil liberties in pursuit of increased national security. That is going to make a run through the New Hampshire primary really annoying for him.
"This strain of libertarianism that's going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought," The New York Times quoted Christie as saying on Thursday. "These esoteric, intellectual debates - I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. And they won't, because that's a much tougher conversation to have."
And there you have the entirety of Christie's argument on surveillance: "9/11!"
The debate about how to strike the right balance between protecting Americans and protecting their civil liberties is one the Republican Party needs to have. But it is no debate when one side's argument consists of mindlessly invoking 9/11.
If Christie is saying, as he seems to be, that the state should be empowered to take any measures it deems necessary to protect against terror attacks - without any concern for the "esoteric, intellectual debates" over civil liberties - then he is the radical extremist, not Rand Paul or other Republicans (including many New Hampshire primary voters) who want to stop terrorists, but without trampling on the constitutional rights of citizens. He also would be far outside the mainstream of American political thought.
"The fetters imposed on liberty at home have ever been forged out of the weapons provided for defence against real, pretended, or imaginary dangers from abroad," James Madison wrote in 1799. But what did Madison know? If only he hadn't been so concerned about "esoteric, intellectual" concepts, we might have a Constitution that would allow brash governors to monitor our every move and thought to make sure the terrorists didn't succeed in taking away our freedom.