Individual Rights Over State Security and Democracy
In civil societies all over the world, the preponderance of democracy as a system of Government, has over the years moved towards a highly liberalized structure, where individual rights and privileges of every citizen are even enshrined in the Constitutions of these countries. The United States of America is one of these nations having a Constitution with clear provisions on certain freedoms of its citizens. The privileges are contained in the country’s so-called Bill of Rights, particularly the 5th Amendment (Mount, 2001). Recent history, however, has compelled governments into considering the need to impose restrictions in certain freedoms, including the freedom of movement.
The situation is brought about by the catastrophic “Nine-Eleven or 911 attack” by terrorists in various American targets. Threats to national security and survival are the foremost considerations of policy makers and leaders of governments to consider the possibility of scrapping or suspending certain rights of citizens during emergency situations. Moving towards this direction is a little bit risky, if not actually dangerous. This is because there will be a strong possibility for authorities to abuse under such situation or arrangement.
For instance, what and who will stop police and military authorities from invoking the absence of the bill of rights or suspension of the democratic processes in inflicting harm or inconvenience to innocent civilians? Retaining the Bill of Rights and Democracy While the security of the State may be threatened at times by lawless elements, the fact stands out that such problem should not be used as convenient reason or excuse to suspend the Bill of Rights and shift from democracy to authoritarian rule.
Beyond the possibility or development of situations, which will become evidently detrimental to people and the society in general, deferment of people’s basic rights and privileges must be the nation’s remote option. In short, even if the condition develops to a point where vital supplies like food, water and power reaches to a highly alarming situation or very scarce; or that the government is in terrible shape; or majority of the population is poor; or the country is at war, government should not even consider thinking of suspending the rights and privileges of citizens living in a democratic society.
This goes to say that despite such things are possible and even bound to happen in this country, it is still essential to prevent and eventually object such kind of situations. This is for the reason that situations where there is no freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to bear arms, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure as well as all other privileges, upholding the nations’ Constitution and most importantly, embodying the Bill of Rights which should be inherent among people. Rights over Security, a Rationale
The damaging implications of the above situation, where the nation’s security is being challenged and the people are endangered, have already been felt by many Americans as well as people of other nations during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In fact, a similar event is not distant to happen again the future. However, it should not be taken as the vital factor that will pave the way for the State to take away the responsibility on their part and throw the burden to the people by possibly scrapping required measures which promote right and privileges such as the Bill of Rights.
Such move, as history or the accounts of many untoward incidents taught us, most often resulted to a more chaotic situation under which only the police and military reigned supreme. The underlying principle for objecting the supposed new situation is very simple or logical – individual rights must always prevail above all the potential threats to nation’s security and democracy. This is because power should always reign in the people and that their interests are of most value than the authority vested to a limited number of people who are likely to commit abuses in the absence of people’s rights and while in the performance of their tasks.
Suspending the Bill of Rights, for instance, will give the impression in the minds of national leaders, the police and the military that they are a special clique who are privileged to determine the fate of individuals or nationals. This is extremely dangerous. In fact, these are proven by specific violation cases against government leaders as well as members of the police and military. It is totally unreasonable that the people who are supposed to uphold individual rights are the same entities who will abuse such authority.
Additionally, beyond the requirement to prevent possible hostile conditions is the fundamental necessity to protect first the people from potential human rights violations which may be inevitable during the course of the performance of duty by authority. Additionally, a democratic country such as the United States is founded under the principle that both the Federal and State governments are formed wherein the people have the absolute power through a liberated system of election.
The political philosophy of democracy also supports the rationale behind the promotion and protection of individual rights and privileges over the nation’s security. This is primarily based from the standard that all citizens of a nation like U. S. have one and the same access to power and most importantly it is the existing way of life that all people have the benefit of a commonly-acknowledged independence or free will as well as authority to exercise their inherent right and privileges regardless of the circumstances facing the nation.
In fact, there are actually safeguards in the Constitution that allows authorities to exercise pre-emptive actions against those who may have plans or intentions to undertake actions to sabotage the very existence of the United States. There are also laws that define measures to follow during emergency situations. Acceptable Alternatives Instead of putting more pressure on the debate or tension of upholding people’s rights over national security or vice versa, what could be considered are acceptable options which are aimed at supporting the need to defend both the nation’s safety and people’s rights.
This includes a deliberation of more investments to intelligence gathering and advance security programs. Simply put, instead of considering the suspension of the Bill of Rights and imposing authoritarian rule during extreme emergency situations, the trend to be pursued should be in upgrading, modernizing and, to some degrees, expanding the various intelligence agencies or networks of the government. Taking into account this manner of option, the country’s security and the authority of each person to freely exercise their privileges without fear of violation of laws are both assured.
In doing so, the conflict between liberty and security or between democracy and individual rights is lessened. These monitoring or intelligence network buildups should not be limited in the home fronts. Rather, there should be more operating units in areas or countries considered hostile to the American government. This buildup should also include improving relations and establishing closer coordination on areas of security, information gathering against those perceived as enemies of democracy. Conclusion Despite earnest efforts, a powerful country such as the U.
S. is still susceptible to any kind of threat which, in turn, jeopardizes the welfare and obstructs the basic rights of the people. Above all the arguments, people’s rights should never cease to exist in a free society. This is because Americans should be assured first of their rights before the security of the nation is considered by the government. This is also due to the logic that securing the country will prove to be futile if the people are left defenseless because they are stripped off their rights.