American voters, who have felt powerless against the allegedly invasive screening methods used by an expanding TSA, got an unexpected gift from a very unexpected place last week.
At the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., the party adopted a platform that included a pledge to reform the TSA.
I’m not making this up.
Republicans reining in the TSA. Who would have thought?
Here’s the actual platform language:
While the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks brought about a greater need for homeland security, the American people have already delivered their verdict on the Transportation Security Administration: its procedures – and much of its personnel – need to be changed.
It is now a massive bureaucracy of 65,000 employees who seem to be accountable to no one for the way they treat travelers. We call for the private sector to take over airport screening wherever feasible and look toward the development of security systems that can replace the personal violation of frisking.
It’s the first time since the TSA’s creation a decade ago that any major political party has taken an official stand on the agency, and it marks a real turning point. Until now, the cause of TSA reform has been marginalized to a few activist legislators on both sides of the aisle.
But with this document, all that changes.
Disclosure: I’m a registered independent. I disagree with many of the Republican party’s platform issues. As a matter of fact, I also disagree with many of the Democratic party’s past platforms. But on the issue of TSA reform, I stand with the GOP.
Something needs to be done. Now.
Will the Democrats follow? We won’t know until their official platform is adopted at their national convention in Charlotte next week. (I doubt it. The early buzz on its platform, and a look at previous position papers, suggests the TSA remains a non-issue. But we can hope.)
The TSA’s critics aren’t exactly doing backflips. Because while almost everyone can agree with the first few sentences of the Republican platform section on the TSA — that the agency is in need of reform, and that it’s a “massive bureaucracy” that seems accountable to no one — there’s no consensus on what to do about it.
The TSA’s most hard-line critics want to eliminate the agency, replacing it with private airport security. Others say the agency should be reformed but remain part of the federal government.
Almost no one is publicly saying the agency works just fine as it is. To claim the TSA is doing a good job protecting America’s transportation systems in the face of widespread complaints, lawsuits and its own paper trail of misdeeds, would probably be political suicide.
As usual, it isn’t what candidates are saying, but what they aren’t saying, that’s the problem.
Pretending the TSA isn’t an issue would be foolish, an indication that a candidate is tone-deaf and out of touch with the reality of traveling in 2012.