Tuesday, September 04, 2007
American Democracy: Time Has Come Today
I often feel speechless these days, which isn't a natural state for me. But what more can really be said about the eternal, unabated horrors of the Bush administration and its assaults on government accountability, reason, democracy, the Constitution, civil liberties, the rule of law, the environment, the economy and even common decency? It's all been said -- the savaging of so much has been documented infinitely clearly, repeatedly. And there's more new evidence every day.
What's needed is some listening and, most of all, action on the part of people who have the power to do something about this lawless demogogue and his complicit cronies. We need them (if there are any) to get real -- to be as serious about their opposition as BushCo is about its relentless assault on justice and democracy. Without that, we are dead. Our democracy is dead. Our future is dead. The planet is dead.
Instead, we have business as usual in the Congress, business as usual in the traditional media, business as usual in the citizenry, business as usual everywhere. Are we really supposed to content ourselves with weak, toothless, picky complaints about minor, peripheral matters as the infrastructure of self-government implodes in full sight of anyone willing and able raise their eyes to it?
I do it myself. Busy myself with political day-to-day, with the latest wrinkles in the latest political maneuverings, with the minutia of the machine. I convince myself that doing things that might possibly help to mitigate the worst of BushCo's impacts is worth it, at least for now. But with almost zero in the way of genuine, effective or honest responses from our "leaders" and "representatives," how much longer can I keep it up?
I'm sure many of you reading this can relate. We can't afford any more beating around the bush, literally or figuratively. What we need is for people with real power to wake up and use it on behalf of the people and the democracy. As ex-Marine Bruce Clark (whose son is stationed north of Baghdad) said at the recent Iraq Summer event -- this is TREASON, this is TYRANNY. More and more of the people -- some in relatively high places -- are admitting it, yet our public figures and power brokers limp on, murmuring platitudes. We raise our voices, we protest, we petition, we build cases, we attempt to apply pressure but no matter how convincingly or loudly we do these things, the status quo is allowed to carry on or worsen.
There is a sort of deadly paralysis infecting those who should know better, those who know in their hearts they must act now or forever be silent. We can only do so much out here in the hinterlands. Those in the circles of power are the ones who must, at last, LEAD. They must take it all seriously, for what it is: a no-holds-barred attack on our democracy and everything positive it has ever achieved or can achieve. But is it already too late for even that?
Eloquent critic and writer Chris Floyd says it is in his very long, chilling, but eminently logical piece entitled, "Post-Mortem America: Bush's Year of Triumph and the Hard Way Ahead." I can't possibly quote enough for you to get the full flavor, so please do read the entire post. Here are just a few nuggests, to lure you into reading the whole thing:
The Republic you wanted -- and at one time might have had the power to take back -- is finished. You no longer have the power to keep it; it's not there. It was kidnapped in December 2000, raped by the primed and ready exploiters of 9/11, whored by the war pimps of the 2003 aggression, gut-knifed by the corrupters of the 2004 vote, and raped again by its "rescuers" after the 2006 election. Beaten, abused, diseased and abandoned, it finally died. We are living in its grave.
The annus horribilis of 2007 has turned out to be a year of triumph for the Bush Faction -- the hit men who delivered the coup de grâce to the long-moribund Republic. Bush was written off as a lame duck after the Democrat's November 2006 election "triumph" (in fact, the narrowest of victories eked out despite an orgy of cheating and fixing by the losers), and the subsequent salvo of Establishment consensus from the Iraq Study Group, advocating a de-escalation of the war in Iraq. Then came a series of scandals, investigations, high-profile resignations, even the criminal conviction of a top White House official. But despite all this -- and abysmal poll ratings as well -- over the past eight months Bush and his coupsters have seen every single element of their violent tyranny confirmed, countenanced and extended.
What can we do? What can we do? What can we do? Does anyone know the answer? How can we get those in positions of power to act -- appropriately, strongly and now?
In certain circles words like rebellion and revolution and anarchy and resistance are bandied about as necessities, as the only ways to counteract the forces of high tech fascism. But even in these enclaves, there is no movement strong enough to make a dent. There is only more hand-wringing, criticism, fatalism, empty gestures, rote responses. I suppose this post is just more of the same. The truth is, no-one seems to know what to do or how to do it or how to foment it or how to shape it and inspire it.
The war which we were told the Democrats and ISG consensus would end or wind down has of course been escalated to its greatest level yet -- more troops, more airstrikes, more mercenaries, more Iraqi captives swelling the mammoth prison camps of the occupying power, more instability destroying the very fabric of Iraqi society. The patently illegal surveillance programs of the authoritarian regime have now been codified into law by the Democratic Congress, which has also let stand the evisceration of habeas corpus in the Military Commissions Act, and a raft of other liberty-stripping laws, rules, regulations and executive orders. Bush's self-proclaimed arbitrary power to seize American citizens (and others) without charge and hold them indefinitely -- even kill them -- has likewise been unchallenged by the legislators. Bush has brazenly defied Congressional subpoenas -- and even arbitrarily stripped the Justice Department of the power to enforce them -- to no other reaction than a stern promise from Democratic leaders to "look further into this matter." His spokesmen -- and his "signing statements" -- now openly proclaim his utter disdain for representative government, and assert at every turn his sovereign right to "interpret" -- or ignore -- legislation as he wishes.
What we lack are leaders up to the task, no matter where we look, whether within or without. We need a new Martin Luther King, Jr., a new Mahatma, a new Mother Jones, a new Jefferson, a new suffragette city of sorts. I don't sense anything or anyone like that on the horizon, do you? And I certainly don't sense anything truly up to the task within myself. How about you? Can we the people rise at last, bidden or unbidden, and make any difference at all? Isn't there at least intrinsic value in trying something? But what?
Again, as Floyd writes:
... there is no place left for the kind of [civil disobedience] action that Thoreau advocated. His way – and that of Gandhi and King, who took so much from him – envisions a state opponent which one could hope to shame into honorable action by the superior moral force of principled civil disobedience. But the very hallmark of the present regime is its shamelessness, its utter lack of any sense of honor or principle, its bestial addiction to raw power.
Still, there is this, if only this:
So whatever we can do, we must do it ourselves. If we have no power or influence, if we cannot take large actions, then we must take small ones. Every word or action raised against the overthrow of the Republic will find an echo somewhere, from one person to another to another to the next -- each isolated, individual voice slowly finding its way into a swelling chorus of dissent.
Barb, my Dad used to say, "Don't let the bastards grind you down!". I have more faith than that in America and in my fellow citizens - and now is no time to give up. Yes, things are still crappy and the occupation shows no sign of ending before Bush leaves. But there are signs, small signs, everywhere of success. Maybe not as many or as fast as we want, but signs nonetheless. Gonzo is gone, Rove is gone, Rumsfeld is gone. Even Tony Snow is bailing. Wide stance Craig is resigning - or maybe he'll stick around a drive the RNC crazy! The Republican party brand has been tarnished beyond hope and the corruption scandals will continue, driving people even further away. Young people are rejecting them in great numbers. This is a good time to be a Democrat! The pendulum is swinging back to sanity - you can see it as Olbermann continues to pick up audience despite, or because of, his outspokenness. Hang in there, January 2009 is coming! We will survive 'til then, and a new era will start, with a Democratic President, and 55-45 Senate. And we WILL clean up this mess.
Posted by: Tom Solomon | Sep 4, 2007 9:34:53 PM
Hey Tom - Thanks for the pep talk. We all need one at some time, don't we?
I know change won't come overnight and I know we have made much headway considering where we started, what we are up against and how much money and power they have to work against us. But sometimes it has to be said I think -- Wake up people. Wake up elected Dems. Wake up candidates. This is an emergency, not just same shit, different day. I know you know what I mean.
We have no choice but to continue. Let's hope many more are ready to join in and demand change.
Posted by: barb | Sep 5, 2007 5:19:39 PM
Barb, I for one consider you to be an important agent for change in this little region of the world. Thank you for your diligence. I enjoy reading your blog that lends a voice to progressives of this beautiful state of NM.
Posted by: qofdisks | Sep 5, 2007 11:01:59 PM
gofdisks: Thanks for the kind words. There are many people working every day to make things better, doing what they are good at. Chipping away.
Posted by: barb | Sep 6, 2007 9:07:08 AM
Sorry I've not been commenting as much as normal lately... been busy, and my cell phone doesn't always let me comment.
Anyway, we all become disheartened from time to time in anything that we truly feel passionate about. It even came out recently that Mother Theresa, who is in the running to become a Saint last I heard, had her own crisis of faith.
Don't give up, though... you've been doing a great job spreading the word.
Posted by: Randall Sobien | Sep 6, 2007 6:28:18 PM
I'm not the first person to say this and I won't be the last . . . the situation we find this country in is a direct result of the manipulation of our democracy and the two-party stranglehold on our electoral system. Politics- & politicians-as-usual simply don't need to listen to us anymore because what choice do we have? They can trade power back and forth, couch politics in terms of a football game and ultimately not change a damn thing!
It's obvious we need new voices, we should have third parties front and center within the debate, but for that we need an emancipation of our electoral laws to level the playing field. The Green Party of the US offers a progressive alternative (see www.gp.org) and has maintained a steadfast voice against the Iraq debacle from day one, but like the suffragettes, third parties in the US operate in a climate of petty fear-driven hostility.
Don't you agree that if we had alternatives, if there were a true opposition party, if your vote were your's to freely cast and not considered "owned" then perhaps parties of all shades would find it necessary to actually act in an accountable manner to their constituencies and honor promises to end wars, provide healthcare, truly lead and make the hard decisions on issues of energy and environmental sustainability?
The time has come indeed.
Posted by: Michal | Sep 6, 2007 6:46:39 PM