Enemy of the People

25 05 2007

My recent hatemail got me to thinking about the need to write a broader explanation for the underlying reasons why I both despise and fear President Bush and his administration so much, so here goes.

I never gave the future much thought, either my own or the world’s, until the birth of my nephew in 2002. Since that time, I have focused on little else. As a historian, I see much about America today which frightens me. Let me begin by saying that I believe very strongly that there is no power on Earth great enough to destroy a free people — except those people themselves. By giving into the fear-mongering of this administration and of the Republican Party (now nothing more than a mouth-piece for the bizarre alliance between corporate and evangelical fascists), by accepting their blatantly false accusations and connections, and by coming to believe that dissent always equals disloyalty, many Americans have allowed this administration to undermine our democracy. In this way, George W. Bush has done more damage to the American republic than Al Qaeda, the Communists, the fascists, the Nazis, the German imperialists, the Spanish, the French, or the British ever could or did. He is, in fact, the worst president in United States history.

The Americans that revolted against the oppression of Great Britain feared the growth of executive power the most, and so both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of 1787 sought to limit executive authority to avoid tyranny. President Bush has effected the greatest executive power grab in the history of the United States, and exceeded those limits thanks to a frightened electorate and a Congress controlled by his own party which abrogated every responsibility for oversight of such a reckless administration.

The attacks of September 11th, 2001, were quite simply an atrocity. President Bush’s decision to invade Afghanistan to hunt down Al Qaeda and overthrow the Taliban remains the single good policy of his entire six years in office. Both the attacks and the initial outcomes of this invasion earned the United States enormous good will, and put Al Qaeda on the run. Then, in pursuit of the policies of his neo-conservative advisors, Bush lurched off-course and sent the United States into the disastrous invasion of Iraq. All the while, he has ignored U.S. law and expanded the powers of the presidency like no other chief executive: his signing statements which indicated he would refuse to enforce sections of laws he disagreed with; warrant-less wire-tapping; the use of off-shore detention camps; taking over control of the National Guard through the John Warner Defense Act of 2006; the creation of NorthCom; the use of military tribunals; the secret contract given to Haliburton subsidiary KBR to build a string of detention camps across the country … the list is seemingly endless. Congress did nothing, and Americans caved in to the blatant fear-mongering of Vice President Cheney and others.

The policies of this administration have made the United States less safe, and the American people less free. By tying us down in Iraq, and his stubborn refusal to admit defeat, he has allowed the rise of Iran and utterly failed to protect the borders and the ports. He has stretched our resources so thin we find ourselves unable to deal with national crises like Hurricane Katrina and the recent tornadoes in the midwest. Many of our traditional allies have deserted us, and he has lost he chance to improve relations with the Russian Federation.

In 2006, historian Sean Wilentz wrote “The Worst President in History?” for Rolling Stone. An excerpt:

By contrast, the Bush administration — in seeking to restore what Cheney, a Nixon administration veteran, has called “the legitimate authority of the presidency” — threatens to overturn the Framers’ healthy tension in favor of presidential absolutism. Armed with legal findings by his attorney general (and personal lawyer) Alberto Gonzales, the Bush White House has declared that the president’s powers as commander in chief in wartime are limitless. No previous wartime president has come close to making so grandiose a claim. More specifically, this administration has asserted that the president is perfectly free to violate federal laws on such matters as domestic surveillance and the torture of detainees. When Congress has passed legislation to limit those assertions, Bush has resorted to issuing constitutionally dubious “signing statements,” which declare, by fiat, how he will interpret and execute the law in question, even when that interpretation flagrantly violates the will of Congress. Earlier presidents, including Jackson, raised hackles by offering their own view of the Constitution in order to justify vetoing congressional acts. Bush doesn’t bother with that: He signs the legislation (eliminating any risk that Congress will overturn a veto), and then governs how he pleases — using the signing statements as if they were line-item vetoes. In those instances when Bush’s violations of federal law have come to light, as over domestic surveillance, the White House has devised a novel solution: Stonewall any investigation into the violations and bid a compliant Congress simply to rewrite the laws.

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of world history will recognize the term “enemy of the people.” It was the main charge used by Josef Stalin against his perceived enemies during his long, brutal and destructive reign (and earned him his place in history as the world’s second greatest mass murderer, right behind Mao Zedong and ahead of Adolf Hitler). Most of the accused were completely innocent; some, perhaps, were not enemies of the people, but enemies of Stalin.

By undermining American democracy in so many ways, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and their supporters are enemies of the American people. They have started this nation down the path to dictatorship.

But why, one might ask?

Simple: an empire cannot be governed by democracy.

Empires need stability, efficiency, and centralized power. Democracy is too inefficient, unwieldy, and decentralized to govern a world-wide empire.

We had a great nation once. While Americans slept, the corporate and evangelical fascists allied with President Bush and Vice President Cheney have begun to unravel it.

For further information, please see:
Kevin Phillips, “American Theocracy.”

Frank Rich, “The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina.”

Thomas Ricks, “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq.”

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2 responses

25 05 2007
fairlane

That was a well written article. Unfortunately, we may be too far to go back now. The Dims haven’t done a damn thing, and I get the impression they have no intention of doing anything.

Corporations sank their talons in this country decades ago, and the past six years have allowed them to get a sure grip. I don’t see how that can be undone.

26 05 2007
Shawn

Thanks so much. You make a good point… I wonder how to pull back from all of this.

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