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OpEdNews Op Eds        10/11/2004

Murdering Democracy: Bush, Right Wingers, Trans-national Corporations, Fundamentalists with loyalties other than the USA are savagely attacking and endangering American Democracy. 

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Murdering Democracy: Bush, Right Wingers, Trans-national Corporations, Media Oligopolies and Fundamentalists with loyalties other than the USA are savagely attacking and endangering American Democracy. 

by Rob Kall, editor, OpEdNews.com

The United States is the proud possessor of the oldest modern democracy. At 225+ years old, it is the oldest and most antiquated of the modern national democracies-- and it ain't perfect. Just as in so many other areas, the art and science of democracy have been improved since democracy's original invention. 

American democracy is a wonderful thing. But democracy is being threatened on numerous fronts. Each of them are producing wounds that weaken her. Combined, they could kill her.

Media- ownership of vast media "kingdoms" covering much of the US population and or monopolizing specific media geographic territories is a huge threat to freedom and democracy. Ownership of major news outlets by corporations that influence the media, so they take partisan approaches, as the Movie OUTFOXED reports FOx News does, is a big threat to the future of democracy.

Electronic Voting has so many risks, is so vulnerable to corruption and to the corrupting of the vote, that it should not be used as currently offered, without the ability to verify votes and do proper re-counts with paper back-ups. This simple safety addition has been submitted as legislation in both the house and senate, but Republicans have not responded to it.

Voter disenfranchisement: Florida set the example, with Katherine Harris (who should be in jail) contracting with a database company to create felon purge lists that brazenly removed over 50,000 eligible voters inappropriately from the voter roles. In Ohio, officials tried to argue that voter registrations printed out from the internet and mailed in were not legal because they were printed the wrong weight of paper stock. IN Arizona, they tried to intimidate students from exercising their right to register in the state where they were going to school.

The Patriot act is being abused, circumventing liberties given to Americans by the constitution.

Gerrymandering - rigging bizarrely shaped geographic confiurations that determine voting districts is a threat to democracy. Tom DeLay pulled this off in Texas.

Creation and maintenanace of a state of fear is a threat to Democracy. Al Gore said, in his article, Democracy Itself is in Grave Danger ,

"our founders taught us that public fear is the most dangerous enemy of democracy because under the right circumstances it can trigger the temptation of those who govern themselves to surrender that power to someone who promises strength and offers safety, security and freedom from fear."

Gore says that giving too much power to too few people is the biggest threat.

'...the biggest threat to America is that we Americans will acquiesce in the slow and steady accumulation of too much power in the hands of one person."

Another threat Gore discusses is the need to maintain balance between the different branches of government.

"that democracy itself is in grave danger if we allow any president to use his role as commander in chief to rupture the careful balance between the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches of government."

Edward Wenk, Jr. wrote, in his article, Threats to Democracy at Code-Red Level,

"Democracy is not born in the genes. It takes continuing diligence. While our government tries earnestly to seed democracy abroad in the Middle East, at home it, ironically, shrinks democracy and even the appetite for freedom.

Class war; the difference between the richest and the poorest Americans is growing dramatically. Excessive wealth threatens democracy. It can corrupt power, the judicial, elections. Bill Moyers said "Class war has been declared and the other side is winning."

Corporate rights and powers can and are corrupting democracy. The rights the constitution grant should be for humans, not for corporations. Unfortunately, this is not the current law.

Tort reform-- taking away the right of the average person to sue protects the very rich so they can engage in excesses which they can use their wealth to grease the palms of legislators and judges. Even the rich can't influence a jury of 12. Corporations use lawsuits more than individuals. The tort reform the Republicans are pushing for will diminish individuals' rights to sue, not corporate rights.

Two party rule and the voting they use to maintain their power. A better, fairer way to insure that the best candidates get on the ballot is to use some version of instant run-off voting (IRV). The current means used in most states allows a person to win the vote with less than 50%. This cannot happen in an election using IRV.

Excessive military power and expenditures. It is important that we have a strong military, but more checks and balances within the military must be instituted so the military cannot excessively exert influences which threaten democracy.

Prisons and criminal justice. With over two million people in jail, the US has a higher percentage of its population in jail  than any other nation. This is because we have laws that define the use and sale of drugs as a crime. These laws unevenly affect African Americans and Latinos far more than any other group. In a way, they are an extension of racism into the 21st century.

Being in a state of continuous war; Thom Hartmann wrote, in his article, When Democracy Failed,

"Today, as we face financial and political crises, it's useful to remember that the ravages of the Great Depression hit Germany and the United States alike. Through the 1930s, however, Hitler and Roosevelt chose very different courses to bring their nations back to power and prosperity.

Germany's response was to use government to empower corporations and reward the society's richest individuals, privatize much of the commons, stifle dissent, strip people of constitutional rights, and create an illusion of prosperity through continual and ever-expanding war. America passed minimum wage laws to raise the middle class, enforced anti-trust laws to diminish the power of corporations, increased taxes on corporations and the wealthiest individuals, created Social Security, and became the employer of last resort through programs to build national infrastructure, promote the arts, and replant forests."

Censorship has raised its ugly head lately, with fines for the Howard Stern show and the network on which Janet Jackson bared her breast. These fines, by themselves, are bad enough. But the threat they raise puts fear into the media and has a bad influence, inhibiting creativity and free ideas.

Weakening of the separation of church and state:  The founders of the US very intentionally built in strong laws for separating church and state, primarily to protect the state from an overbearing church. We see now how extremists fundamentalist Islamics, Christianists and Orthodox Jews can create imbalance in national politics throughout the world.

A strong educational system, for all, is essential to democracy. Efforts to use voucher system have proven to, in actuality, be efforts to convert students into religious schools. We see how the madrassas have influenced islamists. The same could happen here, or worse, the same has already begun to happen here.

David Kilgour, in his article, Threats to Democracy, quotes Winston Churchill:

"Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect... Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

This article's goal is to identify issues that need to be first recognized, then acted upon to make them better, to make Democracy better, stronger and safer.

Rob Kall rob@opednews.com  is publisher of progressive news and opinion website www.opednews.com and organizer of cutting edge meetings that bring together world leaders, such as the Winter Brain Meeting and the StoryCon Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story This article is copyright Rob Kall and originally published by opednews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog or web media so long as this credit paragraph is attached.  Over 100 other articles by Rob Kall  


The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

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