America died today. It did not die in the midst of fanfare but rather it went out with a mere whimper. My writing has often contained outrage and dramatics over the continued consolidation of executive power as this president and his rubber stamp GOP Congress have consistently stripped and gutted the underpinnings of the system of government in the United States. I have lamented the lack of guts and courage of our elected officials from both parties as we have seen the steady and deep erosion of our civil liberties and rights as Americans. Today however, October 17, 2006, is the day that the Republican Party officially put a match to the constitution of the United States of America and established the official reign of our despot-in-chief, George W. Bush.
George Bush once said that it would be easier if this was a dictatorship, as long as he was the dictator. Today his dreams have been realized. This morning, surrounded by the leaders of the treasonous GOP Congress, George Bush signed the Military Commissions Act into law, consigning this country to his absolute rule. This law allows Bush to continue to torture people he chooses, including inducing hypothermia and water boarding, which this country had previously prosecuted as war crimes. According to his Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, any act that does not cause organ failure is not torture. That is what we have come to in the warped vision of the GOP America. That is what we now stand for as we posture about freedom to the rest of the world.
What is more troubling than America representing torture as policy is the complete eradication of Habeas Corpus. This writ has long been the backbone of assuring the government does not exceed the power granted to it by the people. Essentially, it requires the government to bring any incarcerated individual to a court to determine if the imprisonment is with merit. It prevents the government from arbitrarily imprisoning someone without proving they have actually violated the law. It has long been the substance behind the inherent fairness of our rule of law. It has long been the essential balance between the judicial branch of government and an unchecked power of the executive. As of today, it no longer exists.
What is possibly more frightening then the passage of this horrific act is the delight with which the GOP welcomes it. They insist that this is a "winner" this fall in the impending elections and plan on trumpeting it as loudly as they can. They are bragging about the complete and utter destruction of our way of life and are banking on it motivating their base to vote. I still hold out hope that this country has awoken over the past year and can see the truth behind the spin and lies of the Republican Party. There is NOTHING American about this law. It represents the vilest affront to our sensibilities as a nation, our morals as a people, and our simple God-given sense or what is right and what is wrong.
This November presents a clear choice for Americans. They can choose the party that thinks checks and balances are antiquated. They can choose the party that thinks by giving their president absolute control they are doing something patriotic. They can choose the party that thinks that America represents torturing people to the point of organ failure. They can choose the Republican Party which has abdicated their congressional oversight responsibilities for five years now and rubber stamped anything our dictator-in-chief has asked for. Please remember that these people are elected to serve YOUR interests, not the interests of their party. They place votes that should line up with what YOU believe, not what the president believes. Their explicit job is to serve as a check on the power of the other branches of government, not to provide a blank check to the consolidation of executive power. The choice is clear. It is either to vote for more decomposition of what is left of this country, or vote to say NO MORE.
Senator Russ Feingold said today, "We will look back on this day as a stain on our nation's history." I think that is entirely understating the reality of what truly unfolded today. Today the people we elect to serve us cast aside all sense of ethics and civility and gleefully passed a law that completely destroys the fabric of the republic for which they claim allegiance to. Thomas Paine once said that these are the times that try men's souls. He could not have known how prescient his words would be two centuries later. In another discourse, Paine lamented, "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
What will you do America? As fatiguing as the past five years have been, it is your very freedom that is at stake today. It is time to support the extraordinary freedoms you have enjoyed the blessings of for so long now. It is time this November to send a clear and definitive message to this nation, this world, and for all of history; that America still stands for something and Americans will do the tiring work of correcting what has gone wrong and restoring credibility and morality to the generations that follow us.