Party Polarization, and Edward Snowden

July 5, 2013
By now most of America has heard the story of Edward Snowden, the ex-NSA contractor who fled to Hong Kong after divulging information about the government’s extensive spying program against US citizens. If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you know that the country is split between hailing him as a hero and burning him at stake for “betraying” the good ‘ole stars and stripes. Not surprisingly, most Republicans are in favor of the latter, while the Democrats embrace the former.

The Snowden incident has become another ridiculous political plaything for the two parties to fight over in an attempt to discredit the other and garner support for themselves, all while never resolving the issue at hand. Every incident or problem this nation has is a cause for debate and mudslinging by both parties and nothing ever gets done. This isn’t even that controversial of an issue- a government employee informs the public that their human rights are being violated. Big deal. Where did the decision to declare him a traitor come from?

Edward Snowden is supposed to be protected under whistleblower law, yet he is being charged with two counts of espionage and theft. He left for Hong Kong to avoid being prosecuted illegally, and then to Russia. Not because he’s sympathetic to the Russians, but because it was the only country that would allow him in. His decision to try and seek asylum in China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, and Ecuador is not because he “hates freedom” as some have suggested, but because those countries would not extradite him to America. He has also applied for asylum in Austria, France, Switzerland and Poland among other places, but this was conveniently left out of most of the recent articles I’ve read.
There are also rumors that Snowden is feeding information to Chinese and Russian intelligence agencies that could potentially damage relations between those countries and ourselves. Russia and China have both denied questioning Snowden and we’re not in any position to call their bluff. Snowden has not leaked any information to any other country but ours, and fled the states to avoid a possible death penalty. So why is he a traitor in any ones eyes?

Could it have to do with party polarization? The whole incident could be easily resolved with both parties just accepting the facts and reaching a conclusion. But no one seems to make decisions based on fact any more- they make decisions based on what they think their voter base will like. Maybe 25 years from now, when the public has forgotten all about Snowden, the proper decision will be made. But not now. For now, exploiting this man is just another way to get one more vote.

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