What follows are the four candidates in the 2016 US Presidential primaries, who have (at the time of this writing) the largest number of won delegates -- and their viewpoints (with specific, cited quotes) on four issues of particular interest to… for lack of a better word… nerds.
And, by nerds, I mean people like you and me. Free Software, Open Source and Digital Privacy advocates. Technology enthusiasts. Computer nerds. (I wear that badge with pride.)
+ MORE POLITICS: Techies back Democrats in Presidential race +
The candidates represented here are (in alphabetical order by their first names) Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz. I apologize if your favorite candidate is not included here. I had to draw the line somewhere and “top four” seemed reasonable.
The issues I’ve selected are, in no particular order, “NSA Wiretapping / Government Surveillance”, “Edward Snowden”, “Apple v. FBI”, and “Net Neutrality”. I would have included “Free/Open Source Software in Government” in this list… but I could find very little from any of these candidates on that issue. There are other issues I could have included here as well… but, again, had to draw the line somewhere. And “4 Candidates, 4 Issues” felt right.
No commentary from me on any of this. Just the candidates' own words.
NSA Wiretapping / Government Surveillance
Bernie Sanders - “I'd shut down what exists right now — is that virtually every telephone call in this country ends up in a file at the NSA. That is unacceptable to me.” - thehill.com
Donald Trump - “Well, I tend to err on the side of security, I must tell you, and I’ve been there for longer than you would think. But, you know, when you have people that are beheading if you’re a Christian and frankly for lots of other reasons, when you have the world looking at us and would like to destroy us as quickly as possible, I err on the side of security, and so that’s the way it is, that’s the way I’ve been, and some people like that, frankly, and some people don’t like that.” - truthinmedia.com
Hillary Clinton - She said on the topic of NSA’s spying power: “... how much is too much? And how much is not enough? That's the hard part. I think if Americans felt like, number one, you're not going after my personal information, the content of my personal information. But I do want you to get the bad guys, because I don't want them to use social media, to use communications devices invented right here to plot against us. So let's draw the line. And I think it's hard if everybody's in their corner. So I resist saying it has to be this or that. I want us to come to a better balance.” - theatlantic.com
Ted Cruz - “We need to walk and chew gum at the same time. We need to both be vigorous in protecting the security of our country, and in particular, making sure we have the tools to stop acts of terrorism before they occur. But at the same time, we have an obligation to honor the Bill of Rights.” - cnn.com
Bernie Sanders - “Love him or hate him, we all owe Snowden our thanks for forcing upon the nation an important debate. But the debate shouldn't be about him. It should be about the gnawing questions his actions raised from the shadows.” - sanders.senate.gov
Hillary Clinton - The following quotes are in chronological order. Snowden and Clinton got into a little back and forth:
Clinton stated, “[Snowden shouldn’t come home] without facing the music. He broke the laws of the United States. He could have been a whistleblower. He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower.” - politifact
To which Snowden replied: “Sad to see Hillary repeat a false claim despite fact check. She could develop a reputation.” - twitter.com/Snowden
Causing Clinton to hit back: “Because he took valuable information and went first to China and then is now under the protection of Vladimir Putin, I think that raises a lot of questions about everything else he did. So I do not think he should escape having to return and answer for what he has done.” - thehill.com
Ted Cruz - “It is now clear that Snowden is a traitor, and he should be tried for treason” - thehill.com
Apple v. FBI
Bernie Sanders - “I am very fearful in America about Big Brother. And that means not only the federal government getting into your emails or knowing what books you’re taking out of the library, or private corporations knowing everything there is to know about you in terms of your health records, your banking records, your consumer practices. On the other hand, what I also worry about is the possibility of another terrorist attack against our country. And frankly, I think there is a middle ground that can be reached.” - nbcnews.com
Donald Trump - “I think it's disgraceful that Apple is not helping on that. Apple should absolutely -- we should force them to do it.” - msnbc.com
Hillary Clinton - “I see both sides, and I think most citizens see both sides. We don’t want privacy and encryption destroyed, and we want to catch and make sure there’s nobody else out there whose information is on the cell phone of that killer.” - nbcnews.com
Ted Cruz - “I think law enforcement has the better argument. This concerns the phone of one of the San Bernardino hackers, and for law enforcement to get a judicial search order, that's consistent with the Fourth Amendment. That's how the bill of rights operates.” - cnn.com
Bernie Sanders - “We must not let private corporations turn bigger and bigger profits by putting a price tag on the free flow of ideas.” - sanders.senate.gov
Donald Trump - “Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.” - twitter.com/realdonaldtrump
Hillary Clinton - “Closing ... loopholes and protecting other standards of free and fair competition—like enforcing strong net neutrality rules and preempting state laws that unfairly protect incumbent businesses—will keep more money in consumers’ wallets, enable startups to challenge the status quo, and allow small businesses to thrive.” - qz.com
Ted Cruz - “‘Net Neutrality’ is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.” - twitter.com/sentedcruz
In preparing for this article, I started looking around to see what candidate various nerd / geek / tech celebrities were supporting (or at least talking very positively about). To say there is a trend would be an understatement. Here are just a few.
[Note: I am including every non-Sanders endorsement, from a tech/nerd celebrity, that I could find at the time I wrote this article. There were only two. I even asked on Twitter and G+ if anyone could find others that were not supporting Sanders. Came up empty.]
Richard Stallman (aka RMS): Photo of Richard Stallman “Feeling the Bern”
Wil Wheaton: “So, no surprise here: Bernie Sanders is my choice for president”
Bruce Perens: “I’m endorsing Bernie Sanders, because of what I’ve learned from Open Source.”
And the two that are not supporting Sanders...
John McAfee: “I’m in this to win”.
Eric Raymond: “I want a libertarian. Since I'm not going to get that, gotta settle for the viable candidate with the strongest line in limiting government, which in this cycle looks to be Ted Cruz. ”