Was there some single event - some crushing, lethal blow that brought the U.S. to its current state? Carl Sanburg wrote “The fog comes on little cat’s feet.” Slowly, over many years, a great nation lost sight of its purpose, its identity. “Death by a thousand cuts,” an Arab might say. There was a point, a moment when a line was crossed, when there was no going back. When the nobility, the inspired hope of a great nation’s people could not stand the test of time but remained as a bright, shimmering mirage before dissolving like morning mist.
In the eighties Reagan, prompted by the business community, began the deregulation frenzy and convinced Americans their government was contemptible, of little or no use. The assassination of JFK, followed by Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, stripped away the last of innocence, real or imagined that may have inspired a great nation to remember its dreams. Just two years later four kids lay dead at Kent State, and brought Americans face to face with who they were, and where they were going. The student’s crime had been protesting the war in Vietnam. "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” wrote Howard Zinn, the American historian. Ohio’s republican governor, James Rhodes, celebrated the student’s murders. “They're worse than the brownshirts and the Communist element and the night riders and the vigilantes. They are the worst type of people that we harbor in America," That a man with such low character could find his way to a position of great power and influence in a free democracy speaks directly to the republic’s weakness. Thomas Jefferson knew such men would be drawn to high office. He warned the people. "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
The nefarious and insidious Nixon, after promising to de-escalate the war, announced he was sending troops across the Cambodian border. Americans, war weary and increasingly horrified by the daily count of dead U.S. soldiers, protested and Nixon, fearful of a one term presidency, ordered a goon squad to break into DNC headquarters. He was looking for dirt to use against the democrats in his re-election, but was caught and forced to resign in disgrace. He flashed America a peace sign - with each hand - when he left. The second U.S. president, John Adams said, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
Years later in 2000, another right wing goon squad showed up in Miami to disrupt, and ultimately stop, the vote count in Miami/Dade. Carried live on national television, rioters, hired by Bush supporters, intimidated precinct workers into stopping the count. Miami police watched passively as the cornerstone of American democracy, the right to vote and have it count, was betrayed. The rioters, instead of being frog marched to the nearest cell, were paid for their “loyalty.” Three of them went on to become White House staffers. Many Americans cheered as the rioters struck a devastating blow to democracy. Millions more watched, and did nothing, as the democratic process was obviously, blatantly, contemptuously belittled before the eyes of the world. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. no longer monitors elections in third world countries. "Those who cast the votes decide nothing, Those who count the votes decide everything." -- Josef Stalin
There have been ample warnings. Jefferson and Madison told American citizens to beware of corporate encroachment or lose their freedom. More than a few U.S. presidents have voiced the same warnings. Lincoln said, "When corporations have been enthroned an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people . . until wealth is aggregated in a few hands . . . and the Republic is destroyed."
The Bush Administration has been a dream come true for American business. The Iraq war has generated enormous profits for such corporate entities as Cheney’s Halliburton, Erik Prince’s Blackwater, and The Bechtel Corporation. Blackwater’s privatized military supplies 48,000 soldiers to supplement U.S. Army troops in Iraq. Bechtel Corporation raked in $680 million in a no bid contract. It stayed for three years before pulling out of Iraq and making off with enormous profits. Vice President Cheney is the former CEO of Halliburton Corporation. After playing a major role in convincing Americans that Iraq was a threat to U.S. sovereignty, Halliburton was awarded $21 billion in no bid contracts to provide services to the U.S. presence there. Cheney, in his position as Vice President, cheated Americans out of every dime he could find a way to steal. He has no rivals that come remotely close to this achievement. Cheney personifies the kind of corporate greed that destroys democracies - entire societies. He is a grotesquely ugly human being who hasn’t the slightest qualms over profiting from dead, U.S. soldiers. When such a man is tolerated in a position of power over other men’s lives, democracy is doomed.
Sarah Anderson, of the Institute for Policy Studies, said, “Despite the billions in US government contracts Halliburton has received, it has no loyalty or sense of obligation to US troops or taxpayers." She added that Halliburton has moved their corporate headquarters to Dubai, of the United Arab Emirate, to evade U.S. oversight and tax authorities. Cheney, Bush, et al, have lifted the U.S. by the scruff of its neck and held it up to show the World how incredibly naïve and fantastically ignorant are its citizenry. The World’s people pause in wonderment as they watch Americans race through their self made labyrinth in endless pursuit of more and bigger stuff.
J.C. Bancroft Davis, an obscurity of American history, and may have been the cause of democracies long fall from relevant significance. He was a court reporter for the U.S. Supreme Court, who in 1886, snuck a provision into the case records of Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific RR Company. Southern Pacific had pleaded that they fell under the protections of the 14th Amendment, and had personhood status. The Court never ruled, or even entertained the notion of personhood, as it might apply to a corporation. Davis entered it into the “casehead” as if it had. Corporations ever since have enjoyed the same rights afforded to individuals under the 14th Amendment. For those who confuse corporations with people, Buckminster Fuller offered this instruction. "Corporations are neither physical nor metaphysical phenomena. They are socioeconomic ploys - legally enacted game-playing..."
Nike Corporation, tried to push the absurdity even further by citing the 1886 travesty that awarded corporations 14th Amendment rights. Niki explained to the Supreme Court that corporations have the right to lie just as people do. People often lie in their personal lives, said Nike. “The check is in the mail” or “That looks good on you,” or “No thanks. I already had dinner,” are examples of mild deviations from the truth that have no harmful, or lasting effects. The Supreme Court kicked the case back to California, avoiding any comparison of corporations and people. Other arguments have examined relevant comparisons and have reached conclusions. Corporations, the courts have found, are immortal. They can be in two places at once. They don’t bleed, and they don’t have bones to break. They can fragment themselves, and reform into separate entities. Of enormous significance and good fortune they can’t be locked up. Between the corporation, and the God fearing hordes, democracy never had a chance. "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross" -- Sinclair Lewis
Voltaire, the great French satirist said, “Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit atrocities.” Christian Fundamentalism, with its magical God, provides easy answers and promises eternal life for many millions of Americans. Faith - blind trust - is essential for those who seek God’s love and protection. A questioning mind; an intelligent, intellectual mind, is not welcome, or needed, in the Christian right’s, totalitarian church. The Christian Right aligned itself with the republican party with the express, clearly stated goal of installing a theocracy in place of democracy. Twenty-five years later, forty-five U.S. Senators, and 186 U.S. House members have, according to the Christian Coalition, voted 80% to 100% in favor of legislation the Coalition approved of. The religious right’s desperate followers need to believe, even at the expense of reality - even at the expense of democracy. "The last time we mixed religion and politics - people were burned at the stake." -- netctr.com
It’s very hard to imagine millions of Americans coming together to reclaim their democracy. Many don’t see anything amiss, even as Bush and Congress declare pre-emptive war on a sovereign nation, and substitute Habeas Corpus with the Military Commissions Act. Millions of the best and brightest died defending the world from Hitler’s fascist dictatorship. Sixty years later the same threat comes from within, and Americans line the streets to give it a rousing welcome. Enemies, they’re told, are hiding in every shadow. Dissent is treasonous. Freedom is the very thing allowing ghosts to slip across the border to harm us. Fear compels blind acceptance, and the tacit admission that freedom can’t save us.