Free people do uniquely wonderful things. You see, democracy isn’t about being safe or about having a fancy i-phone. As Thomas Jefferson dreamed, democracy remains the quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Some people sing. In patriotic Charles Town, West Virginia, they sing our "Star Spangled Banner" every day at Noon in a local diner. Good for them, especially if they understand the poignant meaning of the song about Fort McHenry in Baltimore.
Others share the positive side of freedom: Declaration of Independence and our U.S. Constitution is posted at this web site. And I spent a half-hour on KOOP-FM radio in Austin, Texas reading and discussing our Bill of Rights.
Why are people singing our national anthem? Why are people reading the highest law of our land? Yes, West Virginia and America, there is a war raging during these difficult times that try men’s souls.
Others defend our liberties by writing excellent books. Republic: A Novel of America's Future should be required reading for as a forcast of what can go wrong when people fail to take responsibility for their freedom.
Written by my good friend Charles Sheehan-Miles, I felt a deep cold chill after reading the book, set in independent-minded West Virginia. Charles weaves a very realistic tale warning us what to expect when Dick Cheney remains President through 2017, and our United States falls further into a tyrannical abyss.
This is Charles' second book. His first was Prayer at Rumalya, a novel that closely followed his Gulf War combat experience where he was decorated for valor.
His political fiction takes a common sense Gulf War hero, Lieutenant Colonel Murphy, and places him in a very difficult situation where he must choose between our Constitutional values and the political expedience of tyranny.
His book is not déjà vu for anyone who lived during Adolf Hitler's tyrannical rise in Nazi Germany in 1933 portrayed in William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
With the new novel's fast pace, you’ll get a political thriller with accurate scenes depicting our corrupt Administration and Congress lifted right from BuzzFlash or TruthOut, among the last reliable media outlets remaining not owned outright by supporters of the Administration.
There are also war scenes to please folks looking for realistic whiz-bang tank battles set in the rugged terrain of cold, wooded West Virginia and not deep inside a blazing and desolate Iraq. Republic is the best contemporary fiction I’ve ever read. The book reminds me that, to paraphrase Sinclair Lewis, christo-fascism is happening here in America.
With the loss of habeas corpus, with the rise of military tribunals who are answerable to no one that can impose the death penalty, with widespread illegal government eavesdropping on your new i-phone, and with our Federal Government lying to start wars of aggression resulting in hundreds of thousands dead and bankrupting our Treasury, we should all emulate the dedicated refugees in the woods at the end of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, reciting and remembering the noble ideals of the Enlightenment before they are erased by Winston Smith’s enemies as if we lived in George Orwell's 1984.
How good is Charles' new book? We should remember the classic film, "It's a Wonderful Life," where honesty, integrity, quality of life, hard work, and the grand opportunity to pursue happiness in Bedford Falls trumped the pernicious profit motive detailed in the movie's alternate future of Pottersville. We should read Republic and see how far off course we are on our journey toward an American dream envisioned by James Madison and others.
Sadly, Charles reminds us in the reality-based world that George Lucas' Empire did strike back against democracy in 2000, when the ghosts of disgraced President Richard Nixon, including Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney, took power. All they want is more brutal power. Now we live under the gun of Blackwater mercanaries, our President's own praetorian guard. We have faith-based government that imposes a religious litmus test before providing social services and naming new political appointees. We have corporations gutting consumer and environmental regulations designed to protect people from corporations -- just as we fought the East India Company in 1776.
The modern Rasputin, Karl Rove, manipulates voter registration and elections so that a dry-drunk moron with thirty percent approval ratings gets installed and re-installed as president when all Bush truly wanted was to be dictator. And we have a President and Congress blindly infatuated with defense contractor campaign cash contributions and piles of purloined profits from their addiction to endless government funding of unrestricted neo-conservative pre-emptive war.
Oh, yes, the curent Administration is ready and willing (but I don't know if capable) to strike Iran even as we are mired in the brutal, bloody anarchy boiling over in Baghdad from that war they already lost.
So if you are one of those ordinary American citizens who still care enough to pay attention to the non-stop news highlighting corruption and incompetence in Washington, DC, then Charles Sheehan-Miles’ new book is tailor made for you. If you want a political thriller, his book is great. And if you like realistic combat, his book delivers the whiz-bang of tank blasts. Sheehan-Miles' new book has tremendous and broad appeal.
Yet what makes Republic so worthwhile is that it takes the demagoguery of the latest generation of violent religious reactionary fanatics occupying the White House and Congress to the next level. And that is where the novel becomes frightening - a trip further down the slipperly slope toward the Dark Side sought by the secretive Vice President Dick Cheney.
Read it. Be Warned. If you don’t like the future outlined in Republic, then get involved in our democracy while you can still have an impact. Everyone one of us can be the reluctant hero Murphy - that's what's great about our wonderful freedom.
You see, as a highly decorated combat veteran who ate sand in Iraq and who wore out shoes walking the halls of Congress on behalf of fellow veterans, Charles Sheehan-Miles realizes that al Queda isn’t the biggest threat to America.
The true danger remains domestic despotism combined with a failure by citizens to stand up for our ideals because we were too busy with our new i-phone.
So I’m going to send a copy of our Declaration of Independence, our tattered U.S. Constitution, and Republic to the Liberty Street Carryout in Charles Town, West Virginia. They might just be the desperately needed cure for what ails our Republic.