Wyden's full speech - in which he makes clear that it is solely the disclosures of the last seven weeks that have enabled this debate and brought about a massive shift in public opinion - is remarkable and can be read here. That's a senior Democrat and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee sounding exactly like Edward Snowden - and the ACLU - in denouncing the abuses of the American Surveillance State. Meanwhile, as soon as the House vote was over, Rep. Rush Holt, a long-time Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, introduced"The Surveillance State Repeal Act" that would repeal the legislative foundation for this massive spying, including the once-and-now-again-controversial Patriot Act, which the Obama administration in 2011 successfully had renewed without a single reform (after Democrat Harry Reid accused opponents of its reform-free renewal of endangering the Nation to The Terrorists).
To say that there is a major sea change underway - not just in terms of surveillance policy but broader issues of secrecy, trust in national security institutions, and civil liberties - is to state the obvious. But perhaps the most significant and enduring change will be the erosion of the trite, tired prism of partisan simplicity through which American politics has been understood over the last decade. What one sees in this debate is not Democrat v. Republican or left v. right. One sees authoritarianism v. individualism, fealty to The National Security State v. a belief in the need to constrain and check it, insider Washington loyalty v. outsider independence.
That's why the only defenders of the NSA at this point are the decaying establishment leadership of both political parties whose allegiance is to the sprawling permanent power faction in Washington and the private industry that owns and controls it. They're aligned against long-time liberals, the new breed of small government conservatives, the ACLU and other civil liberties groups, many of their own members, and increasingly the American people, who have grown tired of, and immune to, the relentless fear-mongering.
The sooner the myth of "intractable partisan warfare" is dispelled, the better. The establishment leadership of the two parties collaborate on far more than they fight. That is a basic truth that needs to be understood. As John Boehner joined with Nancy Peolsi, as Eric Cantor whipped support for the Obama White House, as Michele Bachmann and Peter King stood with Steny Hoyer to attack NSA critics as Terrorist-Lovers, yesterday was a significant step toward accomplishing that.