Michael Payne / OpEd News – 2008-09-11 00:32:47
(September 7, 2008) — As the on-going nightmare of the past 7-1/2 years has unfolded, the people of America have watched as the US Constitution continues to be shredded and the executive branch of this government declares itself as a supreme power that is above the law. The judiciary branch has become no more than a tool of this administration and the legislative branch, both the House and the Senate, have descended into a state of submissiveness and complicity to dictates by the White House. And America watches in silence.
Here is the common dictionary definition of democracy: government by the people; rule of the majority; a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation involving periodically held free elections.
What? That is what democracy is actually supposed to be? Sorry, but that definition of democracy no longer fits this America. This definition does not at all describe what is going on in America today; this definition may be what our founders had in mind as the guiding principle for the governance of our nation, but the current executive branch has trashed the U.S. Constitution, has wrested control of that supreme power from the people and declared that the only power that shall be recognized is — its own.
Here is my new definition of democracy in America: no longer rule of the majority; a government in which the supreme power is no longer vested in the people, but in the executive branch; and exercised by them solely through a system involving elections that have proven to be highly suspect.
In our democracy, the greatest influence upon our government, both our elected representatives in Congress and the president, by Constitutional design, is the American electorate. But what has been happening steadily over the past several decades is a continuing erosion of this mandated power and influence of the people.
The Executive Branch and the American Corporate community have, together, usurped this power and taken it from the people. Who does this Congress and the White House listen to when carrying out their constitutional responsibilities, the American people or the American Corporations and associated special interest groups? It is now very clear that it is not the American people.
Speaking of corporations, here is a quote that many years ago warned America of the dangers from excessive corporate power: “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country…corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war.”
President Abraham Lincoln
From the inception of the Bush/Cheney administration, this White House has been tied directly to Corporate Oil. Cheney’s energy task force met in secret and made plans for America; and especially for themselves that neither Congress nor the American people know anything about to this day. Soon after, we witnessed the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq and the pacification and subjugation of the Iraqi people.
Since then this oil-driven administration has spent much time and effort to convince Iraq’s government to accept the major petroleum corporations whose goal is to obtain the majority control over that nation’s vast oil reserves. What a cunning, creative way to develop and implement an energy plan for America and, at the same time, make Iraq the spigot that will feed our insatiable appetite and addiction for oil.
The influence of major corporations in our nation is immense. Estimates of the total number of lobbyists that function from their primary base of operation, K Street and nearby areas of Washington DC, reach as high as 35,000, a staggering number. There can be no doubt whatsoever that these lobbyists have a tremendous influence upon the White House and upon the members of the House and Senate. No such closeness exists between the Congress and the American people, its supposed employer.
In fact, it seems like the opposite is true in that Congress almost seems to be oblivious to the mandate that they were given by the American electorate in 2006. If they had accepted that mandate and had acted in the best interests of the American people, things in America would be quite different from what they are today.
Trashing the Constitution
Slowly but surely America is becoming a nation under tighter and tighter government surveillance. The wiretapping involving the FISA law that has been at the center of a great debate is the greatest example of how the US government is violating the privacy of the citizens of America, all in the name of their war on terror. We are experiencing the beginning stages of the eventual complete control of America, as depicted in the classic book, “1984” by that visionary author, George Orwell.
In case you haven’t read this novel, Orwell chillingly depicts a scenario in which a fictitious government uses secretive surveillance, a program of instilling fear through incessant propaganda, and the use of repressive techniques to control its citizens. Does the year 2008 begin to look a lot like the scenario in Orwell’s 1984? You bet it does, in a very frightful way. We are not there yet but we are rapidly heading directly in that direction.
In a special White House meeting in November, 2005, GOP leaders told Bush that his hard-core push to renew the more onerous provisions of the Patriot Act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.
“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said, “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.” “Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!” Three people present at that meeting each confirmed to the press that this President of the United States said exactly those words.
Since the year 2000 Americans have watched in silence and disbelief as an imperial presidency has taken control of our government and our nation. This Bush administration has made it known that they are above any law, they do not recognize the Constitution, the Congress or the American people as having any relevancy in the agenda that they have developed. They completely ignore congressional hearings, any and all subpoenas, refuse to supply necessary information requested by oversight committees, and use signing statements to ignore laws enacted Congress.
Finally, as our Constitution comes under constant fire and attack by those who believe they are above the law, the people of America cannot continue to watch in silence.
Our democracy is slipping away as so many of us say, “what can I do?” What can you do? Here’s what! Contact your senators and representatives by phone, e-mail, letters and make your opinions known on this subject or any other that you feel is critical to this nation’s welfare and future. Sign online web petitions, and there are many of them, to pressure our elected representatives to stop the corruption, to once again be responsible for oversight of the executive branch, to refuse to be complicit in acts that violate our Constitution such as illegal, immoral wars, to resist the influences of special interests and lobbyists of all stripes.
Something of great importance that we must do that is just not happening right now. Talk to your friends, your family members, your fellow workers about these issues. You need not be overbearing but there are subtle ways that you can bring them up and start some sort of dialogue. Far too many Americans continue to go about their business as usual, even they know that this country is definitely headed in the wrong direction.
This silence and the reluctance to speak out strongly about what is happening to our Constitution and our democracy cannot continue. This nation is on a course leading to disastrous consequences unless we turn our government around. We, collectively, have the power to do just that, but we must find the courage, conviction and the will to make it happen.
Thinking about speaking out, getting involved, saying “enough is enough, I’m not going to take it anymore”, let me give you a quote from Pastor Martin Niemoller as he recalled the silence of the German people during the period that the Nazis rose to power. “In Germany, they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist; And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist; And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew; And then . . . they came for me; And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”
America, time is running out, our democracy is under attack. If we remain in a state of silence, if we continue to watch as our Constitution is shredded, if we fail to act and speak out against these increasing abuses, then our democracy will die!
Michael Payne resides in the Chicago area. He considers himself an activist. His writings deal mainly with political issues, American foreign policy and climate change. His articles have appeared on the websites, OpEdNews, Online Journal, Information Clearing House, Foreign Policy, Peak Oil and others.