The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are two of the most controversial pieces of legislation of the past year. Signed by President Obama last December, the NDAA authorizes the military to indefinitely detain anyone accused of being a terrorist or offering "material support." This includes American citizens.
Meanwhile, SOPA (and it Senate version, the Protect IP Act, PIPA) would have blocked domain names and cut off funds to websites that were accused of infringing copyright. However, a national backlash to "Stop SOPA" forced Congress to table those bills.
Recognizing the grassroots thirst for stronger stands to protect liberties, a diverse array of candidates has emerged across the nation -- including Democrats, Republicans, and independents -- campaigning against the NDAA and SOPA.
A Democratic Party activist and a 6th generation Texan, Candace Duval will challenge the author of SOPA himself, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX). A 25-year incumbent, Smith survived an Internet-backed campaign to unseat him. In May, Smith defeated both Richard Morgan and Oath Keeper Sheriff Richard Mack in the Texas Republican primary. But on that same day, Duval won the Democratic primary with 61% of the vote, besting Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Boone.
According to Ken Flippin, Candace Duval's campaign manager, Duval has made civil liberties her "top issue." On her campaign website, she opposes "online censorship:"
Candace also believes that it is vital to defend the privacy and civil liberties of individuals online. She strongly opposes legislation authored and supported by Rep. Lamar Smith such as SOPA, CISPA, and HB 1981 which seek to infringe on the civil liberties of law abiding Americans.
She has criticized the NDAA and called indefinite detention a "flagrant violation" of the Constitution. When asked to identify the greatest threat to freedom, Flippin responded: “a lack of an informed and engaged electorate who fight for their civil liberties.”
The truth is, most people don’t know how much their civil liberties are being infringed upon…
After earning two degrees from MIT, Thomas Massie founded SensAble Technologies, a tech start-up, and raised more than $32 million in venture capital for his firm. He returned home to Northern Kentucky and lived off-the-grid, until he starting becoming politically active on fiscal issues. Building on his activism, Massie was elected last year as Judge Executive of Lewis County, a position akin to a county commissioner. Now he's running for Congress as a "constitutional conservative."
His main opponent for the Republican primary, Alecia Webb-Edgington, was a former member of the Kentucky State Police and worked for the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security. As Reason magazine reported in March, she also helped launch a fusion center funded by the Department of Homeland Security. In May, Massie defeated Webb-Edgington and won the Republican primary for Kentucky's 4th Congressional District. The American Conservative dubbed his victory a "Kentucky Massiecre." Come November, Massie will face Democrat Bill Adkins for the general election.
Massie has been actively campaigning on civil liberties. In January, Massie participated in the SOPA blackout, since he believes bills like SOPA "give the federal government unprecedented power to censor Internet content and will stifle the free flow of information and ideas." Online, his personal platform declares his support for "preserving individual freedom:"
Our natural God given rights to life, liberty, and property are slowly being eroded....Thomas is opposed to ObamaCare, the Patriot Act....the intrusive actions of the Transportation Security Administration, indefinite detention of American citizens without trial, Internet censorship, and all other infringements on our liberties by the federal government.
A 22-year veteran of the Army National Guard, RJ Harris is running for Congress in Oklahoma as "independent constitutional conservative." Harris will appear on the ballot as a third party candidate in Oklahoma's 4th congressional district, facing the GOP incumbent, Rep. Tom Cole, and Democratic challenger Donna Marie Bebo.
In his own words, Harris is motivated "to fight for the restoration of our liberty." In contrast to the personal agendas of many aspiring legislators, he says, "My overall pet legislative item is to repeal as much of this unconstitutional legislation that's been passed."
For Harris, many national security polices are "unconstitutional." Drone strikes are an "act of war" since they represent a "penetration of a sovereign power's airspace." Since Congress under the Obama administration has not formally declared war against Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, drone strikes against these nations are untenable. However, Harris would support drone strikes only if they were used against targets in international waters or if Congress explicitly declared war: "such operations must be conducted in accordance with the Constitution," specifically Article I, Section 8.
As for domestic drones, Harris opposes warrantless surveillance by law enforcement and government officials. Indeed, on his campaign website, Harris attacks those who think there is a trade-off between security and freedom:
Any government official claiming that it is not possible to provide for the common defense while upholding the Constitution at the same time should be considered unqualified to hold office.
When asked about the NDAA and its indefinite detention provisions, Harris argued that these are "blatant violations of the 5th and 4th Amendments...I'll fight to repeal [the NDAA] every day I'm in office." In addition, if elected to Congress, Harris would vote against Internet regulations like SOPA, CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act), the new SOPA fragment bill, the Intellectual Property Attache Act, and "any other nanny-state scheme." Put simply, "I don't think the government has any business whatsoever regulating the Internet," Harris said.
The first Hispanic Solicitor General of Texas, Ted Cruz is running for Senate in a contested Republican primary. After his main opponent, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, failed to win an outright majority in the May 29 primary, Cruz defeated Dewhurst one-on-one in a runoff election on July 31. Dewhurst was favored by the Texas Republican Party establishment, while Cruz was supported by conservative grassroots activists and the Tea Party. In October 2011, National Review ran a cover story calling Cruz "the next great conservative hope."
In February, Cruz attacked the NDAA, calling it "shocking" and "unconstitutional." As the Houston Chronicle reported, according to Cruz:
America “should always remain vigilant in the war on terror, but the Constitution does not allow an American citizen, arrested on U.S. soil, to be detained indefinitely without a trial...Government power, unchecked, is always a threat to individual liberty."
Cruz also tweeted a link to a video about indefinite detention by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), calling it "an elegant defense of our liberty." On January 18, Cruz joined the SOPA blackout, emblazoning "STOP SOPA" on his campaign website. He was concerned bills like SOPA "threaten free speech and damage liberty...we should not trade innovation and vibrancy for stifling government regulation."
A seven-term Congresswoman, Tammy Baldwin is running for an open Senate seat in Wisconsin. Her Republican opponent has not been chosen yet, since Wisconsin's GOP primary will be held August 14. A Democrat, Baldwin was the first openly gay, non-incumbent to be elected to Congress and currently co-chairs the LGBT Equality Caucus. If elected in November, she will be the first lesbian Senator. ThinkProgress has even called Baldwin one of "the best 11 representatives for gay rights."
In addition to supporting LGBT rights, Baldwin is an antiwar, civil libertarian. She was one of the first members of Congress to oppose the Iraq War and wants to end the war in Afghanistan: "I believe it is time to bring our troops home now." She has voted against the NDAA for both FY 2012 and FY 2013. Baldwin also voted in favor of the Smith-Amash amendment that would have banned indefinite detention.
Furthermore, Baldwin opposes "Internet censorship." On January 18, the same day as the worldwide SOPA blackout, Baldwin announced her opposition to SOPA. In a press release, she criticized SOPA's potentially "chilling effect on Internet expression." Instead, she favors a more "balanced approach to piracy" to protect intellectual property, just not through bills like SOPA. In addition, she voted against CISPA in April.
Other Politicians Defending Your Rights
In addition to the candidates listed above, TestPAC listed "5 politicians who can save the Internet:" Justin Amash (R-MI), Jared Polis (D-CO), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), and David Schweikert (R-AZ). All of them oppose SOPA. And except for Issa, all of these incumbents also voted against the NDAA and CISPA.
In addition to federal officeholders and candidates, Amy Ferrer reported on state and local legislators working against the NDAA back in March. As Americans from all walks of life continue to raise our voices to demand constitutional rights, these inspired leaders from all corners of our nation have heeded the call.