I don't like writing this sort of thing, and I'm going to try to avoid doing so in the future. It started as a reply to a piece by Glenn Greenwald of Salon on the sudden turn-around by Senate Democrats on the issue of torture. Senators Feinstein and Wyden, fierce advocates against torture during the Bush Administration, are suddenly backtracking as fast as they can. Apparently, torture is now okay with them - as long as they don't call it "torture", of course. And only if it's really, really necessary.
I'll say it again: don't be surprised as America continues its long slow slide into fascism in all but name.
Under Obama and the Democrats, torture will continue, and probably increase. Privacy rights will continue to erode. Governmental secrecy will increase, except in meaningless, superficial ways ("Look! This shiny new government website lets you see some documents that mean nothing and look important! Give us your feedback, and we'll send you a form-letter of thanks!").
The Democrats were possibly the most feeble and pathetic "opposition" party in history, even when they were in the majority. Anyone who thinks that they will now bravely stand up for basic American principles is just fooling themselves.
Some day, if we're lucky, we'll all be shocked - shocked! - to discover that governmental power has been abused in whole new ways that we never imagined. Except by the civil libertarians on the "fringe" whose warnings were constantly ignored by the media, of course. But who listens to them?
Bush/Cheney are a symptom, not the cause of America's decline. The cause is voter ignorance and apathy, encouraged by the media, the degradation of the public education system, and the long breakdown of unofficial local social support systems - neighborhoods, in other words, and extended families. Americans are increasingly isolated from each other, and this makes them passive, helpless, and numb.
Technology has been a major factor in this slow-motion social collapse; improved travel technology has scattered families to the winds, while television provides endless mindless entertainment. Every moment of life is precious; once gone, it's gone forever. Yet the vast majority of America - 80 percent? Ninety? More? - spend virtually all their free time in front of the TV. Walk through any town, any city, anywhere in America some evening. You'll see that unmistakable pale blue glow from almost every house that announces to the world that The TV Is On.
And a lifetime spent watching TV gets you...what, exactly?
Our rampant consumer culture, rooted in the all-encompassing greed of ever-larger corporations, has reduced virtually everything to dollars and cents. Speak out against even the most extreme corporate crimes, and a gaggle of idiots is sure to spring up claiming that the profit motive excuses all. People have forgotten that we are all human beings, not just economic units of consumption and production! But assertions of the value of humanity are now passé, and seem vaguely comic and old-fashioned.
I wish I saw a way out of this tragedy, but I don't. The collapse seems inevitable, and I do not see any sign that our new leaders have any inclination to change the direction we're heading in; they're just going to change how they talk about our descent into destruction. And they'll make a few cosmetic changes to distract us from the truth: America is almost certainly headed towards complete social and economic collapse. The current economic crisis is just another small foreshadowing of what's to come.
When the real crash comes, the shock will be immense. At that point, the people will desperately throw every right out the window and eagerly follow whatever dictator makes the most attractive promises. Which won't be kept, of course; they'll just be another temporary distraction while the remaining elite picks the nation's bones.
I would like to believe that after the collapse, there will be some sort of chance for redemption, some way for a better world to come to pass. But if such a possibility exists, I can't see it.