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Democracy Interrupted

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Why we as a nation, have been titrated, which is the gradual increasing of dosage, pressure, and propaganda, till the desired effect – an inured and compliant society – have willingly bequeathed away our autonomy of self-government, embraced the genesis of tyranny, and begin our seemingly inexorable march towards dictatorship.

Part IV of the "American Democracy in Crisis" series.


 If the past is prologue, then the present may be prescient. Each day, many of us awaken to a queasy feeling of unrest, knowing that the rule of law is under assault. The Constitution is in jeopardy and our unassailable rights to an egalitarian society are quickly being abolished. Television, newspapers, blogs, and a litany of books are reminiscent in our collective conscience that America has been browbeaten into trading peace for war, liberties for securities, sovereignty for safety, and blood for oil.

Our reputation on the world’s stage is indelibly stained by pernicious acts of imperialism, hegemony, blind patriotism, and outright incompetence by Washington’s power brokers and their agents of avarice. Yet, beyond dystopian polls and sparse demonstrations, Americans seem unwilling to accept and are extraordinarily unaware, that tyranny is taking root here in America.

We have ran the gamut of – and sadly sanctioned – some of the most unconceivable and heinous measures in American history. The Military Commissions Act, The Patriot Act, The Domestic Wiretapping Program, ignored the Geneva Conventions, revoked habeas corpus and engaged in torture. We removed our selves from the world’s courts, attacked and now occupy a country that never posed a grave or imminent danger to our own nation and then failed to adequately care for the pointlessly wounded soldiers, evident by the Walter Reed Hospital debacle.

The Justice Department enacted by law and created in1870, to make certain fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans was carried out under the law, has been purely politicized. It has been altered and grotesquely mutated into a blanket of immunity for loyalty and allegiance to an autocratic president that has throttled our nation to the point of snuffing out all legitimacy of our national system of jurisprudence

Alberto Gonzales, the empty suite at the head of the Department of Justice, appointed by President Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate in 2005, not only repeated lies with impunity, but also obediently abdicates his sworn duty. He obsequiously yielded to Bush’s wild assertions of executive privilege and steadfastly refused to pursue Congress’ mandated contempt citations for Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton. Justice, by these lawless actions, is not being served, but is abruptly being handed its hat.

The commutation of I. Scooter Libby, an obstructionist of the law and felon, reminds us that justice is no longer in service in the interest of integrity and impartiality. Justice is now enslaved to the bidding of the Bush Administration and serves only to provide shelter and safe haven for loyal soldiers within a rogue, Mafioso-style executive branch.

Pre-emptive war planning operatives, such as John Yoo, David Addington, Paul Wolfowitz, the infamous “Torture Memo”, the radical “Unitary Executive Theory”, unconstitutional signing statements, the shocking Abu Ghraib torture pictures, The Project for a New America Century’s outlandish, 1998 white paper entitled, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, all signify we are on an inexorable march towards dictatorship. 

It should now be brutally apparent and undoubtedly understood by all that the Bush Administration is not merely above the law; it is the law. Our seven-year autocracy has now morphed into full despotism. Bush and his actors of austerity, beyond all doubt, are desperados who are unrestrained and unfettered, severing all ties with restraint and decency, decorum and sound judgment. The nascent Nixon enterprising years of imperialism and lawlessness are feeble by contrast. 

We have rhetoric from armchair members of Congress who assert, “This administration has weakened America in a way that is frightful[1]”, and then refuse to breathe life into the comatose corpse of a once proud and functioning democracy by taking impeachment, the people’s remedy for the infringement of our independence, “off the table.” Nancy Pelosi,  Harry Reid and the rest of the Democrats are quite content to allow Bush to self-destruct, in full view of the nation, while the U.S wreaks havoc in the Middle-East, in order to create what they falsely believe will be a landslide election weighted heavily for the Democrats by Bush's massive blunders and political collapse.

Thirty plus years after Nixon's failed coup d'état, George W. Bush has taken the idea of a tyrannical, presidential despot, at the helm of the Executive Branch, to dizzying heights and abject lows in America in the 21st century. Bush has now fully entrenched himself – in a twisted, extravagant, bravado-ridden version of Richard Nixon – by stonewalling every action Congress takes, as a totalitarian ruler, more bellicose and bombastic than his previous six years of pompous swagger and reckless governing.

The juxtaposition of these two loggerheads – an ineffectual Congress and an imperial President – leads to the will of the people being usurped, subjugated, and silenced. The People no longer have a voice in this government, for it is no longer our government as much as it is no longer a democracy. What America has become is an autocracy operated by lobbyists, mega-corporations, the military-industrial complex, and the whores in Washington that these power brokers, in a very fascist way, have bought politicians’ loyalty, acquiescence, and obedience. Contrary to the revisionist history so may of us are indoctrinated with, and unswervingly clutch to without reason or true examination of the facts, is our nation is run by an oligarchy.

Our will as a nation is not being done for a very simple reason. We, as a nation, have been titrated – the gradual increasing of dosages, pressure, and propaganda – till the desired effect, an inured and complicit society, have willingly bequeathed away our autonomy of self-government. We have bestowed our birthright to despotic rulers who do not find fear in – or seek shelter from – the near unanimous disapproval of the people they suppress and subdue[2]. They seek not the consent of the people for they seek only allegiance and adherence to their own reprehensible, egocentric, and depraved pursuits for power, money, and authoritarian control. Never in America's past has an assault on the truth and freedom been waged so viciously nor have the American people been so reprehensibly divided and utterly deceived by men we never truly elected in the first place. 

What is prescient about the present is the deafening silence in which we fail to speak out, take action, or demand accountability. George Bush and Dick Cheney are the epitome of, the embodiment of, the exact personification of, what the founders feared in an autocratic oppressor, the rise of a despot to the presidency, and how that despot would come to exist. The framers of the Constitution gave us all the tools we need, without the shedding of blood, to ensure the rights and freedoms of the people remained intact and attempts at tyranny or oppression were rejected and ultimately beaten back.

We have to begin to change the framing of peoples’ mind first, and then explain the actions that need to be taken. No matter what or how somber the facts are, if the framing, the paradigm within which people operate is not changed, then no transformation will take place. 

The only proper instrument for accountability and transformation – when a president becomes despotic in his actions – is impeachment, trial, and removal for failure to respect and honor the Constitution and faithfully execute the laws of the land. Impeachment is a just and necessary remedy and we must immediately diverge away from the idea that it takes away from other work Congress should and can be doing. When you have a president who openly flouts and disobeys the law, intentionally attempts to erase the separation of powers of our tripartite government and assume dictatorial powers, no legitimate work, which will stand as the rule of law for all men, can be realized.

Here is the straightforward reason why impeachment is a mandate to return to a working democracy: No matter what legislation Congress passes, Bush will veto it, ignore it, or add a dubious “signing statement”, making unilateral claims he may disregard it or claim the bill is "unconstitutional", plainly bypassing the judicial process of the Supreme Court, as well. As many historians have appropriately point out, not even King George III of England had or assumed these kinds of authoritarian powers. 

The fabric of democracy is feeling the strain and we must unburden our country, through impeachment, from a despotic president and a dangerous vice-president who uses fear and subjugation to rule by and not the rule of law to govern our nation by. There can and must be far more significant consequences for all of these abuses of power and executive anarchy, or the actions of Bush and Cheney will simply become historical precedence for future abuses by future presidents, whether a republican or a democrat.


[1] Senator Russ Feingold (D) of Wisconsin, on Meet the Press, July 22, 2007

[2] 71% of Americans Disapprove of the Way Bush is Handling His Job; July 23, 2007, American Research Group

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Frank J. Ranelli is an independent scholar, skeptic and critic, author and essayist. His erudite and iconoclastic style of provocative writing has been extensively published in a variety of news outlets and across (more...)
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