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Does the House’s narrow vote-down of privacy amendment reveal hidden political alliances?

Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi voted against the amendment.
Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi voted against the amendment.
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A House amendment to curb the NSA’s collection of phone records came just 12 votes shy of being passed yesterday despite a strong lobbying effort from the White House against the bill. To many NSA critics this narrow vote signaled a major tide in Congress that favors protecting privacy, and the way the votes came down indicates that, at least on this issue, the political spectrum is all out of whack.

Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi voted against the amendment along with rivals like Tea Party Republican Michelle Bachman and House Speaker John Boehner. Meanwhile the amendment was pushed through by a Republican Congressman, Justin Amash, and found supporters on both the extreme right and the extreme left.

Just about the most consistent thing we seem to get from Congress these days is partisanship and gridlock, so a convergence of the left and right is refreshing, and perhaps begs the question: are left-right alliances really so unusual? Extreme voices on both the political right and left have seen eye to eye on issues like military spending, Wall Street reform, and trade relations.

Why do we so often latch on to a binary political narrative when it’s not always the case? Is there a new political paradigm brewing underneath traditional party lines? Or is this false optimism, a blip on the screen?


Jake Sherman, Congressional Reporter at POLITICO

Sam Husseini, communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy and founder of, an organization focused on bringing progressives and conservatives together on important issues