I think Bush doesn't believe in Democracy.
He says he does, of course. But independent of the Newspeak that pours forth when he speaks, his actions make it clear that he doesn't care at all about what the American people think.
It isn't any one thing. It isn't the the secret tapping of our phones, or the advocacy of torture, or the suspension of habeus corpus at Guantanamo, or his meddling with EPA conclusions about Climate Change, or Cheney's Gerrymandering the branches of the federal government. Those are all just symptoms. It's that he doesn't see himself as reponsible to anyone, and that he's doing his best to hide his decisions so that the public can't review them. He doesn't trust us. He's busy undoing the way we've done things for more than 200 years because he doesn't trust that. What he's doing is antithetical to a government of, by, and for the people.
If I had to guess, I'd say it was the result of 9/11. I know the neocons were planning the action from longer ago than that. But I don't think Bush had his heart into it until 9/11. Bush didn't plan the attack, but he must have felt somewhat responsible after-the-fact, even if he can't admit it. In his heart, he must feel the nation should have been better protected, and that it was too late, so he's doing penance by making sure—at all costs—that it doesn't happen again. Or, at least, by trying.
Bit by bit, though, he's dismantling who we are to get his single-minded end. And it doesn't seem to matter to him what We The People think. He claims rights no one else had ever heard of until this administration, allowing him to set aside laws made by Congress, or to stretch the function of signing statements beyond all recognition. It's not news any more, it's just how he is.
Strangely, Congress hasn't impeached him for it. I don't understand that at all. I suspect it's that they're just tired after Clinton's impeachment and not up for another. Well, shame on them. Clinton should never have had impeachment proceedings brought, of course; but, regardless, what Bush has done is tons worse and has gone unchallenged, so if it was ok to do it to Clinton, it's definitely ok for Bush. The Senate is the only court competent to challenge Bush's authority, but has stood silent.
His individual actions can be challenged in the Supreme Court under some circumstances, and the Supreme court did finally take a stand on habeus corpus. But fighting Bush on a case-by-case basis is a losing battle because the cases are not isolated incidents; there's a larger pattern of behavior that will continue to crank out new cases.
So, he's done and still doing a lot of bad things. And he's turning us into—well, I'm not sure what. But it's not as democratic as it was. It's more like we have an elected king. But that's not what is bugging me tonight. What's really bugging me is that he's calling it business as usual. He still talks about everything like it's business as usual. He's even still trying to bring Democracy to points around the world, all the while abandoning it here, and not admitting that's what's going on.
And, going back to my remark about 9/11, I think it's because he doesn't trust that we'll be safe if left to our own devices. I think he thinks he can't trust us with the information that would allow us to engage in the discussion. He thinks it's too important to be left to We The People. He thinks we'll mess it up. That's why I say he doesn't believe in Democracy.
Democracy isn't a tool for making us safe, and Bush knows it. So he's dismantling it. The data needed to make wise decisions cannot be shared with us, so why pretend to involve us? Moreover, even the dismantling is happening without our consent. (See my post from last night for a discussion about how one might imagine it happening with our consent.)
Running a country by Democracy has been a big experiment, and experiments can fail—maybe this one has. It might really be that he can't trust us. It might be that he does know better than us. My point isn't that he's wrong. (I think he is wrong, but that isn't my point.) My point is that he won't say he thinks Democracy has failed. And that's what leads to all the Newspeak that comes out of the Executive Branch these days.
The irony is that as an intellectual, it doesn't scare me to ask questions. Questions are what keep me alive. My brain is my only protection against what might happen. Brains were evolved, if you'll pardon my indulgence in thinking evolution is a workable theory, precisely for the purpose of giving people an edge over the lions, tigers and bears of the world, who were faster and stronger than us. By using our brains, we figured out where future races were destined to occur and arranged not to be there. Brains are good and their fuel is questions. So we mustn't fail to ask hard questions, and I'm asking what I think is a hard one here.
What if it were the case that they were right? What if Democracy will, in fact, kill us? Maybe generally. Maybe in some particular situation. What must we do then? I can imagine the question, under some circumstances, leading us to conclude “well, then we shouldn't have it.” I don't think that's the case right now. But I want to say that I think it's not in and of itself an unfair question.
What's troubling me most, though, isn't that this question is being asked. It's that it's not being asked. The change is just happening, and as a society we're behaving as if the change was ok, even though we'd be outraged if someone said out loud “Why don't we get rid of Democracy?” and really meant it. But it's not being discussed, it's just happening. And no one is outraged.
If Bush believes the experiment is over, and that Democracy is not good for us, could he please just have the decency to say so? Who knows? Maybe people would even agree with him. But if he can't call it what it is, a complete change to something new, he shouldn't be doing it.
Palin suggested in the recent VP debate that her administration, with McCain at her side for as long as he lasts, was set to continue what Cheney and his sidekick Bush have started. (See Michael Fox's recent blog post for details.) Let's have a whole evening of debate on just this issue, shall we? Is it that it's not worth that much time to discuss? What could matter more than whether the candidates really believe in the current system of government?
I'd like to have ended on that last sentence. It should be very provocative. We all know it's not, though, and that the debates will proceed with a softball question or two on it, and that's the last we'll hear before election time. Let's just hope the public will do the right thing and vote for Obama for other reasons, because this particular issue will probably be forgotten by then.
A vote for Obama is a vote to return to traditional Democracy.
A vote for McCain is a vote to continue dismantling it.
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