Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Fall of The American Republic

On this July 4 weekend, I'm troubled.

It's not like there's any great revelation to be found in this blogpost. No breaking news, no diatribe against the lastest "faux-controversy."

Just a general sense of unease.

When one looks back at American history since the Nixon administration, one is struck that, for the first time in our history, liberty has been narrowed. Think about this for a moment: our Forefathers and -mothers fought for all of us to enjoy the fruits of liberty: young, old, black, white, male, female, straight, gay.

We seem to have reached the pinnacle of our efforts just about the time that forces to destroy our freedoms took root. It was as much as to say that, "OK, if everyone gets to be free, then let's redefine freedom." And so the task of rewriting what it means to be free had arisen, to the point where, only today, do we get a clear picture of the effort.

Bush has been the worst, but Bush has only been the most recent. The Patriot Act, some parts of which have value in a post-9/11 society (although far fewer than one might think: there still is the small matter of crossing an ocean to attack us) stripped so many liberties of their bark that they may not stand much longer. But the party that has stood for security and "law and order" (read that as "Keeping the darkies down") has shown a disturbingly paranoid face to us that minorities have known for a long time. This, from the party of "family values" and "God bless America." Almost seems like they don't trust God as much as they'd like us to believe. Or themselves.

This process seems to begin with the Nixon administration: the "Enemies List", siccing the FBI and CIA (law of unintended consequences there, but that's a different post) on American citizens, having the IRS work as a political organ-- all of these became assaults on the Constitution. Fortunately, we had a Supreme Court that, while conservative, did not overlook the deep and troubling dangers of these attacks. Neither, for its part, did Congress, although that eventually changes as well.

Reagan, too, had a profoundly anti-liberty effect on the legal and political processes of this nation, the most glaring example to be found in the Oliver North hearings, and the trading of arms-for-hostages. But perhaps worse, although not nearly as widely known, was the October Surprise: Reagan's campaign made a secret deal with Iranians holding American citizens hostage not to release them until after the election of November 1980, in which Reagan challenged the incumbent President Jimmy Carter and won. Or even taking the very subtle act of repealing the Fairness Doctrine for his cronies in the media.

If a man could do that to people sitting in a jail in a foreign land, imagine the contempt he shows freedom at home.

And lest you think this is about Republican presidents only-- admittedly, more of them have been elected in the past 50 years than Dems-- it's not. Clinton was particularly hostile to the Fourth Amendment (the so-called "search and seizure" provisions, basically nullifying them if an arrest was for drug possession or dealing), such that there arose a rash of property seizures nationwide that didn't even require an arrest, much less a conviction.

Now, there's Bush, who has raped the Constitution in so many ways, it's hard to begin to trace them all. The First Amendment is currently under assault, but was also attacked when in 2003, the FCC changed ownership regulations to permit even more consolidation of TV and radio stations. Curiously, the Second Amendment has remained fairly unassaulted, but make no mistake about it: Al Qaeda is in this country buying guns. It won't be long now before the right wing has a "revelation" about gun control, far more severe than anything any Democrat has proposed. The Third Amendment is a ticking time bomb, as the Bush administration made it clear in the Patriot Act that American soldiers in a time of national emergency, may be forced onto private citizens for quarters, food and clothing if they are fighting a domestic invasion. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments died at Guantanamo Bay, as did the Sixth. All it will take (as the Clintonian unintended consequences of abuse of the Fourth Amendment show) is some whisper campaign by a neighbor, and you can bet your ass that some American will be (if not already is) sitting in a jail, awaiting a trial that may never come.

And to see the death of the Seventh Amendment, one must merely look to this week's Supreme Court decision tearing Bush a new one for daring to insist that enemy combatants have to stand a jury trial and not a military tribunal. Moreover, what was Bush's reaction? Not "the Supreme Court has heard us and issued a fair judgement", as was the case when he stole the 2000 election. No, it was, "Well, let's rewrite the law and make it possible for us to ram people into secret trials."

Talk about cruel and unusual punishments, which by the way, means the Eighth Amendment is toast as well now.

Since abortion is also under attack and Bush has made it known he does not agree with the "Roe v. Wade" ruling, we can consider the right to privacy under attack as well, hence the Ninth Amendment.

The Tenth Amendment says that anything not specified in the Constitution shall devolve to the states.

For now.

What troubles me most about this is, despite Julius Caesar's crossing the Rubicon (*ahem* check out the sidebar), the Roman Republic was declining into empire long before that action was taken. How did it decline?

You're seeing it happen, live and in color.

And THAT'S what has me uneasy. God Bless, but God HELP, America.

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