Friday , April 12 2024
What made America different from the other countries, my Dad would tell me, was that we didn't have to carry identification just to exist

National ID Cards for US Citizens

When I was a kid I did quite a bit of traveling with my family, mostly in Europe. What made America different from the other countries, my Dad would tell me, was that we didn’t have to carry identification just to exist. In America, a policeman couldn’t just stop you on the street and demand that you prove who you are.

If the Republicans who control the Legislature have their way, that America will soon be but a nostalgic memory. Under a proposal from Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), you’ll need to carry a new type of electronically encoded Social Security card. But “it’s not a national ID card,” Dreier explains. “It will only be required for people looking for a new job.”

Ah. So if you never need to change jobs, or if you prefer to remain unemployed (or perhaps join the everpresent underground economy), you can do without the card. It’s comforting to know our civil liberties will be protected thus. The card will even say, “This card shall not be used for the purpose of identification.” Well, then I guess everything’s just hunky-dory.

Across the pond in Britain, a proposal for national ID cards is a huge issue, but so far there’s been little evidence of a public outcry over the US proposal. Let’s hope the American citizenry catches on soon. But the odds are against it. The sneaky bastards are attaching this so-called “Real ID” to the bill funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Al Barger’s notes in these pages notwithstanding, my guess is the American public is going to just roll over and take it.

Incidentally, it’s also yet another unfunded mandate to the states, whose driver’s licenses are to be co-opted and turned into these de facto national identity cards. States’-rights advocate Ronald Reagan has probably been turning in his grave at least since “No Child Left Behind.” Now he must really be in a spin cycle.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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