It has been opined that Bush deliberately exploited a flaw in the U.S. Constitution; that is, it concentrates military power in the hands of the executive. But in the longer term, the demise of the American state will be attributed to the fact that Bush is anti-American; Bush is on the wrong side of America's very founding. He's at the other end of the scale with J.S. Mill, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison on the one end -- Hegel, Hitler, and Stalin on the other.
For Hegelians, the "state" is "God" -- the opposite of the American ideal espoused best by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence and James Madison in the Bill of Rights. Arguably, the American republic was but the latest development in a liberal trend that began with the English Civil War. Certainly, Oliver Cromwell dismissed Parliament in a fit of pique; certainly he arrogated unto himself the powers of an absolute dictator but stopped short of taking the title. He was, he said, a Lord Protector. Charles I was most certainly England's last absolute despot in the Hegelian sense of the word.
The U.S. Constitution is but a recent development in this liberal tradition of several hundred years. Bushism, however, flies in the face of the Magna Carta, the English Petition of Right, the Mayflower Compact, The Virginia Declaration of Rights, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights, The Nuremberg Principles, and every Supreme Court decision that has upheld the right of persons to be secure in their homes.
America might have taken a different road. Alexander Hamilton most certainly favored a strong central government, perhaps a monarchy. But it was the liberals who carried the day -- Jefferson, Madison, Mason et al.! Because of them, America embraced a different rationale for governmental power. Americans will not tolerate a reversal. Current polls indicate that America will no longer tolerate George W. Bush, a man whose very personality is increasingly disliked. Our founding is at the derivation of the world "liberal" which, significantly, is demonized by the state absolutist minority that makes up Bush's dwindling base.
For State absolutists power trickles down. The individual is not free but literally licensed by the all-powerful state. Freedom in this situation is reduced to whatever the state will allow. The American tradition is quite the opposite; it is a different paradigm. In America, the people are sovereign; and just as Jefferson described so accurately, the government derives its power from the people themselves. Freedom does not trickle down. With the ratification of the Constitution, this principle ceased to be mere theory. It is, in fact, the law!
With the Constitution, the "divine rights" of rulers was consigned to the dust bin of history. And so too, should Bush's state absolutism, a mere variation on the tired old theme of absolute state power.
The U.S. Constitution is, in fact, a "contract" between the state and the people. Monarchists, totalitarians, and other state absolutists will never recognize that principle. In our Democracy, the government does not merely tolerate a certain degree of individual liberty; rather, individual liberty is the only reason governments are empowered. The protection and preservation of those rights is the sole duty and responsibility of those in power. To do otherwise, amounts to a breach of contract. That is why Bush must be impeached. He has broken the contract.
It is a tragic testament to the failure of the American educational system that Bush's choice for CIA chief has demonstrated a shocking, abysmal ignorance of the very Fourth Amendment that would restrain him at either the NSA or the CIA! With his stubborn belligerence -- even when confronted with irrefutable evidence of his wrong-headedness -- Hayden betrays his contempt for this liberating tide of history that is so eloquently assessed by Simon Schama:
If the Magna Carta is not the birth certificate of Democracy, it is the death certificate of despotism. It spells out for the first time the fundamental principle that the law is not simply the whim of the king. The law is an independent power unto itself. And the King could be brought to book for violating it!"The Constitution itself explicitly establishes the sovereignty of the people. But if that were not enough to dispel notions of a "state as absolute," a Bill of Rights was insisted upon and ratified by the people. In the 1960s Justice William O. Douglas stated that the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights are absolute -- beyond the power of Congress or the executive to modify or infringe in any way.
-- Simon Schama, History of Britain
Also in the '60s, the high court expanded the protections given individuals who found themselves accused of crimes; the decisions especially affected the issue of search and seizures (Mapp v. Ohio), confessions (Miranda v. Arizona), and the right to an attorney (Gideon v. Wainwright). Later, Roe v. Wade would uphold a woman's right to privacy.
Bush by advocating doctrines associated with Nazism and Stalinism has found himself an enemy of basic individual rights, most prominently privacy and, by implication, that most basic of American rights: the right of the people to be secure in their homes and in their possessions. Bush has, therefore, found himself to be an anti-American enemy of the people, an enemy of the state.
Let's make it simple. If Bush can spy on you, in secret, without a court order, he can, likewise, arrest you in secret, imprison you without charges, and in other ways deny you "due process of law." He could even have you executed in secret.
(1) The President is now claiming, and is aggressively exercising, the right to use any and all war powers against American citizens even within the United States, and he insists that neither Congress nor the courts can do anything to stop him or even restrict him.
-- Glenn Greenwald: The NSA Fight Begins - Strategies for Moving Forward, The Huffington Post
This is simply intolerable! This scandal -- if mere scandal it is -- is about nothing if not about the rule of law. It's not merely about whether the President has the right to break the law; it has become about how Bush will use the power that he now claims by fait accompli; it is about whether Bush has the power to harm and even murder U.S. citizens upon his mere decree.
It's about something greater still. It is ultimately about whether or not the American system will survive George W. Bush.