When there were revelations during the Bush administration that the National Security Agency was conducting warrantless surveillance of phone calls and emails, Democrats generally opposed the NSA's practices on civil liberties grounds, while the Republicans was broadly supportive of it (although the libertarian contingent of the Republican Party had concerns about it). Less than a year ago, however, new revelations came out about NSA surveillance as a result of Edward Snowden's leaks, and this time the Right was deeply divided: establishment Republicans continued to support the surveillance practices of the NSA, whereas conservatives and the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party voiced concerns about whether the NSA was giving the government too much power.

Yet things seem to be different now; on Friday the Republican National Committee unanimously passed a “Resolution to Renounce the National Security Agency's Surveillance Program". So my question is, what led to establishment Republicans changing their opinion of NSA surveillance so dramatically, and when did this development occur?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You in Advance.

  • -1 - the extent of what was opposed during Bush years isn't even remotely close to Snowden information. While the idea swap between the left and the right makes for highly ironic and amusing topic for a blog post, it's not a good basis for a serious SE question since it has an obvious answer (when: answered in the question. How: by reading polls. Why? Snowden info changed public opinion)
    – user4012
    Jan 27, 2014 at 3:32
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    @DVK I didn't say that the revelations were the same. My question wasn't about the shift between the reaction to the revelations during the Bush administration and the reaction to the Snowden revelations. It was about the shift in the reaction to the Snowden revelations from less than a year ago to now. Jan 27, 2014 at 3:36
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    Your question starts out talking about Bush in the very first sentence. If that's irrelevant, then why did you take that political swipe?
    – user4012
    Jan 27, 2014 at 3:38
  • @DVK It wasn't intended as a political swipe. It was just intended as an explanation of why establishment Republicans were initially disagreeing with the conservative base on this issue. Jan 27, 2014 at 3:42
  • @KeshavSrinivasan - there were 2 distinct shifts. Conservative shift 1 year ago (or so) and Establishment shift now. They are completely independent of each other. If you're asking about the latter, anything before 1 year ago is irrelevant.
    – user4012
    Jan 27, 2014 at 3:46

1 Answer 1


To give an obvious answer: public polls (themselves affected by Snowden revelations) showed the establishment republicans that they better get onboard with the program.

As far as 1 year ago discrepancy, Tea Party wing simply front-ran the polls due to overall deep skepticism with giving ANY power to the federal government, after bailouts, IRS scandals, ATF gun-running fiascos etc... They didn't need the polls to tell them it was a bad idea that would be abused to hurt Obama's opponents at first opportunity.

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