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Yes it CAN Happen Here The Impending Death of American Democracy [View All]

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-06-06 12:48 PM
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Germany became a dictatorship in the early 1930s, and a few years later became perhaps the most brutal regime in world history, not because the German people were inherently evil, but because ordinary people by the millions sat passively by as their democracy was stolen from them piece by piece. The German people did not want war, and the good majority of them did not want mass murder either. But psychological denial is a ubiquitous human weakness, and as the atrocities became worse and more frequent, too many Germans simply refused to see or to admit what was happening. As Herman Goering said at the Nuremburg trials at which he was sentenced to death:

Naturally the common people dont want war but after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along All you have to do is to tell them that they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger It works the same in any country.

Sound familiar? Too many people refused to see what was happening until it was too late. And that is why it was allowed to happen. Is our country so different from Germany in the 1930s that it couldnt happen here? Most American apparently think so. I dont, and here are some reasons why:

We are well on our way to dictatorship and few Americans seem to notice or care

For example, consider the way that Bush handled the signing of a recent Defense Department bill that included an amendment by John McCain which prohibited torture of detainees in U.S. custody. Bush signed the bill, but included a signing statement which declared that he retains the right to determine when an exception needs to be made to the torture ban (Thank you to Generator for posting that analysis).

Or consider Bushs decision to bypass the need for FISA warrants when he decides to use the NSA to spy on American citizens, as recently reported. In a nationally televised address, Bush defended his right to ignore the law in these cases in order to fulfill his obligation to protect American citizens against terrorists. Yet he has never explained why he needs to ignore the law in order to protect us against terrorists. And given the ease with which Bush has been able to obtain FISA warrants, the most plausible reason for his choosing to bypass them, as explained in this insightful analysis by understandinglife, is his desire to spy on his domestic political opponents.

What these examples have in common is that Bush has determined that he has the right to exempt himself from any law as long as he CLAIMS that he is doing it to protect American citizens during wartime. Since our current War on Terrorism is not likely to end any time in the foreseeable future, that means that Bush is claiming this right for an indefinite period of time. And as kliljedahl has pointed out in a recent post, if he can unilaterally take away the Fourth Amendment rights of American citizens against unreasonable search and seizure, what is to prevent him from unilaterally taking away ALL of our constitutional rights? as long as he claims that he is doing it to protect us. And isnt this the definition of dictatorship?

But what is even more troubling to me than Bushs actions is the lack of reaction against them. This should be a scandal of the highest magnitude. Yet all we hear from Congress is murmurings about impeachment, our news media doesnt appear to think that this is a major problem, and there isnt much outrage among most of the populace either.

Where is the outrage? If Bush can get away with this, might he not eventually decide to dismiss Patrick Fitzgeralds investigation into the numerous crimes of his Administration? for national security reasons of course. Or how about calling off the 2006 and 2008 elections because they endanger our security? What would stop him from doing that? As Senator Feingold recently said:

The President believes that he has the right to override the laws that Congress has passed. This is not how our democratic system of government works. The President does not get to pick and choose which laws he wants to follow. He is a president, not a king.

This is very similar to an earlier statement made by Al Gore on Bushs policy of pre-emptive war, where he called it a doctrine that would replace a world in which states consider themselves subject to law with the notion that there is no law but the discretion of the President of the United States. In other words, Bushs attitudes towards domestic law and international law are pretty much identical: Laws do not apply to him.

The Bush regime has much in common with Nazi Germany of the 1930s

A few months ago I posted this comparison of the Bush regime with the Nazis of the 1930s. Differences and similarities are cited. Among the similarities are:
 Lied to their country to justify going to war
 Extra-ordinary control over the national news media
 Utter contempt for international opinion
 Ascension to and maintenance of power was illegitimate (Bushs more so)
 Used a terrorist attack as an excuse to assume dictatorial powers
 Appealed to virulent nationalistic impulses of their people in order to maintain their power
 Policies reflect great callousness towards the well being of the most vulnerable citizens of their country

Our national news media is way too servile to the regime

Bill Moyers, in his editorial entitled The Fight of Our Lives, notes that the protection offered us by our First Amendment is based on the assumption of a separation of our government and a free press, which is supposed to protect us from government abuses. Moyers goes on:

What would happen, however, if the contending giants of big government and big publishing and broadcasting ever joined hands, ever saw eye to eye in putting the public's need for news second to free-market economics? That's exactly what's happening now under the ideological banner of "deregulation". Giant media conglomerates that our founders could not possibly have envisioned are finding common cause with an imperial state in a betrothal certain to produce not the sons and daughters of liberty but the very kind of bastards that issued from the old arranged marriage of church and state.

Consider the situation. Never has there been an administration so disciplined in secrecy, so precisely in lockstep in keeping information from the people at large and -- in defiance of the Constitution -- from their representatives in Congress. Never has the powerful media oligopoly ... been so unabashed in reaching like Caesar for still more wealth and power. Never have hand and glove fitted together so comfortably to manipulate free political debate, sow contempt for the idea of government itself, and trivialize the peoples' need to know.

Our election system the basis for our democracy is largely broken

Today we find ourselves in a situation where votes are counted by computer software that is written in secret and made inaccessible to the public, with the rationale that the machines and software that count our votes are proprietary. Is that situation different than giving one Party a box of paper ballots and allowing them to count them and determine the winner in private?

The corporations that make the computers and software that count our votes donate large amounts of money to the Republican Party. Some of these men are convicted felons. And nobody questions the fact that it is possible to secretly program their computers to rig an election.

Our Republican legislators fight tooth and nail to maintain the right of THEIR voting machine companies to count our votes using secret, proprietary software. Does that sound like a democracy? Yet few of our citizens are alarmed about this. What possible reason could there be for fighting for the right to count our votes with secret software other than the intention to steal elections?


History shows us that most civilizations eventually fail, and that republics frequently turn into dictatorships. It is doubtful that the United States is immune to this fate, and it is currently showing many signs that dictatorship may be just around the corner. It is yet possible that we may reverse course and maintain our democracy and our constitution. If so, it will take a willingness to confront the seriousness of our situation, and a lot of commitment and courage from of a lot of people.
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