The False Choice
Americans may be ready to lighten their burden by casting off the iron heel of the police state the Bush regime has rested upon a once proudly free people.
|Democracy shines at its resplendent best in periods of the deepest darkness. It is not the most efficient of political enterprises, frequently manipulated by the lies and deception of the powerful, duping thumping majorities into voting in a remarkable gallery of rogues, scoundrels and buffoons the world over.
But as has been proven repeatedly – from the stunning defeat of Indira Gandhi after the Emergency in India and the overthrow of the Marcos regime in the Philippines to the triumphant transformation of Nelson Mandela from political prisoner to president of South Africa – democracy alone among the major political systems, has the unique capacity to restrain egregious abuse.
Alas, we may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for the pernicious and abusive regime of George W. Bush. For the first time during his presidency, a Newsweek poll has found that the proportion of Americans who would prefer to not see him reelected outnumbers those that do (49 percent to 44 percent).
It is easy to forget now that Bush is a usurper to the throne, who having lost the popular vote was eased into office through the legal shenanigans of a conservative Supreme Court and his brother Jeb Bush’s politically greased machine in Florida. His administration milked the national crisis after 9/11 to burnish his tarnished electoral loss reversed into victory. The frontal assault on civil liberties this reversal required has transformed one of the world’s most open societies into a Soviet-era state.
In Bush’s secret society, prisoners are held indefinitely without charge, immigrants are detained and deported without a hearing, or even access to a lawyer, citizens and non citizens alike are monitored and tapped without judicial or political oversight, and soon perhaps capital trials are conducted in sham kangaroo military tribunals. The country has been put in a state of perpetual war against a shadowy, invisible enemy, whose authenticity has to be accepted on blind faith in a lying administration. In this Orwellian world, periodic, scary bulletins are put out of real and imagined plots and threats with no potential for public scrutiny and subsequent accountability.
This state of perpetual war to stir up fear and anxiety is Bush’s trump card for coasting to an easy reelection and for months the whole country was so petrified by the lies his spin machine pumped out that no questions were asked.
At long last, the public may have gotten wind of the Bush scam. The public is developing a healthy suspicion of both the rationale and the prosecution of the Iraq war. It is hopefully, only a matter of time, before the exaggerated and bogus war on terror is unmasked as a calculated political stunt as well.
It is undisputed that a motley group of militant are bent on terroristic assaults against American and Western targets. There is also no question that a police state the Bush administration has constructed can be occasionally effective in muzzling such threats. But that’s not a choice democratic societies are, or should be, comfortable with. The famed political philosopher William Ernest Hocking warned over a half-century ago: “Men are in general freer under a despotic regime which establishes firm law than in social chaos. But public order may easily serve the orderer more than the ordered. Every existing social order, every inherited technique, every historical context with its cumulative wisdom is an instrument of liberty for which individuals will and do pay a great price; but in each case that price may be needlessly great. The choice is not between this heavy burden and chaos. The choice is between this heavy burden and a lighter burden which will serve the same end.”
There is hope now that Americans may be ready to lighten their burden by casting off the iron heel of the police state the Bush regime has rested upon a once proudly free people.