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Democracy is Too Important

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We make the same mistakes over and over again. To greater or lesser degrees we listen to the promises and lies of those elected or appointed to serve us.

When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Turkey, perhaps we missed her comments, comments that were so typical of the Bush administration and their “do as I say, not as I do attitude”. According to the BBC, Rice stated that Russia must do more to show they are committed to democracy, to show they are intent on strengthening the rule of law and permitting a free press.

But as my father used to say, “Isn't that a bit like the pot telling the kettle it's black” ? Has Rice ever considered her role in the suppression of our rights and the dismantling of our democracy being carried out by the Bush administration?

Ever since the Bush administration assumed power they have systematically sought to centralize power in the executive branch. Their gain in power, would of course come at the expense of the legislative and judicial branches of the government. This power grab or “unitary executive theory” basically states that the President has certain executive powers that cannot be reviewed or questioned by anyone, sort of like being a king.

This power apparently allows the President, when signing laws passed by Congress, to choose whether or not he is bound by the new law. These “signing statements” have been used to exempt the President from hundreds of laws, putting him above the law.

This power allows the President to imprison people indefinitely without charges, trial or legal representation. Torture is apparently OK and these “enemy combatants” can include US citizens, or anyone else the administration wants out of circulation.

This power allows warrantless wiretaps, spying and private property searches of any American, for any reason, no matter how vague. National security is reason enough. Issuance of a “national security letter” gives the administration carte blanche to ignore Congress and the courts in carrying out their secret police activities.

This power allows the President to lie with impunity and to expect others to lie for him, whether it it concerns his reasons to invade other countries, the success of “the surge” or the reasons for our inability to insure children.

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While previous Presidents and government officials have overstepped their Constitutional powers; Lincoln in suspending habeas corpus during the Civil War; Roosevelt's Japanese internment in WWII or J. Edgar Hoover and his illegal COINTELPRO operation during the Vietnam era protests, none could have dreamed of the powers amassed by the Bush administration.

Henry Kissinger, Nixon's Secretary of State, set the bar high for blunders that would return to bite us. Concerning the political situation in Chile, he felt that democracy was too important to leave up to the vote of the people. Likewise, the current Administration seems to think we either can't handle it or don't deserve it.

How sad, a willing press to carry the message that we are “at war” and “need to be protected”. A population distracted by the shopping we are supposed to do and the “stuff” we are supposed to need and a Congress and Judicial branch too complacent and timid to protest their loss of status as a co-equal branch of government.

Are we on our way to a dictatorship? As president Bush said, “it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator," Former NC Senator Jesse Helms supposedly once said “ democracy used to be a good thing, but now it has gotten into the wrong hands”. Wrong hands Senator? democracy is supposed to be in the hands of the people, but the Bush administration can't seem to wrap it's head around that idea either.

Condoleezza Rice either cannot see, or does not want to see the hypocrisy of insisting that the United States holds the moral high ground of democracy. While the Bush administration's foreign policy actions have cost us our reputation as a humanitarian nation, their hijacking of our democracy has made statements like Rice's truly ludicrous.

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So, again, we have listened to the lies and believed them. Again the administration tries to take the moral high ground when it has no right to do so. Their world vision is not democracy, but an empire based on capitalistic corporate domination. They create the big lie, the media dispenses it and we believe it.

Could we please get our own house in order before we tell the rest of the world how to run theirs? Democracy IS too important, too important to be left to anyone but the people.


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Jim Goodman, a WK Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow, is an organic dairy farmer and farm activist from Wonewoc Wisconsin. Encouraging local food production and consumption in the industrialized north, allowing the global south sovereignty in (more...)

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