If you applaud Edward Snowden's courage in revealing the vast, surveillance apparatus monitoring the activities of American citizens, this year's presidential election offers little hope for a restoration of constitutional safeguards against such "Orwell-ianism." Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the two major-party candidates for President, are avid surveillance hawks, and their expressed views on this weighty issue offer little hope for civil libertarians.
Since June 2013, when Mr. Snowden first divulged the extent of domestic spying in the US, Mrs. Clinton has been a vocal critic of this conscientious whistle-blower. The Democratic nominee has maintained that Mr. Snowden should have raised his concerns through "official channels," despite the fact that he attempted to do so. She also insists that those channels offer a fair-minded and judicious means of resolving such concerns, claims belied by the experience of other whistle-blowers, such as William Binney, Thomas Drake, and Chelsea Manning.
For his part, Mr. Trump has expressed even stronger sentiments, going so far as to call for Mr. Snowden's execution. Mr. Trump also tells voters he'll convince Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, to extradite Snowden to the US for trial.
In her role as Senator, Clinton also voted for the Patriot Act in both 2001 and 2006, and Mr. Trump has voiced his approval of this power grab. First enacted 45 days after the devastating attacks on September 11, 2001, the USA Patriot Act greatly expanded the ability of the federal government to conduct mass surveillance, while also reducing or eliminating the checks and balances required to mitigate such invasive powers.As unabashed advocates of state dominance, neither Clinton or Trump will stem the rising tide of authoritarian powers in Washington, DC. For those concerned about how such sweeping powers may be used and abused in the future, this presidential election offers little solace.