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"Are Citizens of the USA Tired of Democracy?" A Response to the Presidential Elections
by Joyce Walker
Email: Walkerjoyce5 (nospam) cs.com
15 Nov 2004
Reprint with correction: Joseph McCarthy, not Eugene McCarthy, used threats to cripple the democratic process. With sincere apologies.
. . . The public’s tolerance of flagrant violations of candidates’ and voters’ rights indicates yet another instance where sacrifice of individual rights has become acceptable, with the assumption, I suppose, that it will always be the other fellow’s rights that are sacrificed . . .
Prior to elections in Afghanistan, U.S. politicians asked, “Are the people ready for democracy?” implying that life under the rule of a repressive regime had stunted their capacity for participating as free people in the running of their government. In the reverse, those of us who are dismayed by officials’ and citizens’ conduct during recent U.S. elections are asking, “Have the citizens of the United States decided that authoritarian rule is to be preferred over Liberty?”
The public’s tolerance of flagrant violations of candidates’ and voters’ rights indicates yet another instance where sacrifice of individual rights has become acceptable, with the assumption, I suppose, that it will always be the other fellow’s rights that are sacrificed.
What has transpired in the previous months is anything but democracy in action; it’s a demonstration of a breakdown in the democratic process. George W. Bush’s success in this election has been astounding, with much of the credit going to the commercial press and conservative religious coalition which performed like political arms of the Republican administration during his campaign.
Our Nation’s Legacy
Since the joining of the thirteen colonies into The United States of America, leaders with opposing visions have battled for control of the destiny of this country, with the fiercest struggles being about our role in the world – whether to use destructive power to build the country into a great empire or to use our strength to become a great leader in the creation of a peaceful society, both at home and among the world’s nations. Thanks to the work of people with the peace vision, like Woodrow Wilson, we were on a course of peaceful cooperation when the war coalition, George Bush being its current figurehead, began its program of control of the public will.
The coalition’s success was demonstrated in this election by the ease with which they got violations of Constitutional laws past the people, including those regarding freedom of the press and separation of church and state, and Constitutional Rights related to participation in the election process. In fact, judging from the way the public joined in on the bashing of opponents of the government’s takeover, they appear to be ready to lay aside the Constitution which introduced the bold idea of governance by free people. The most savage fights on the issue of rights were on the part of assassins in the press attacking those patriots with the courage to stand up for the Constitution.
With the way things are going now, it looks like the war machine will have free rein to pursue their expansionist ambitions, with the consequence being a legacy to the world of death and destruction.
The Power of the Media
We in the public look to the media for accurate information to help us understand what’s going on in the world around us. At its best, the media presents objective news reports with a balance of different views, through editorials and documentaries, to assist us in forming educated opinions of our own. A breakdown in that role occurs when powerful interests assume control, with resultant censorship of information that contradicts the views they want to promote.
At times, the media has used its power to instigate dramatic action which has changed the course of history. An example occurred in 1898 when some publishers used their newspapers to support efforts to initiate a war with Spain for the purpose of obtaining new territory. An explosion on a U.S. ship docked in Cuba’s harbors was used as the excuse to initiate aggression. By misrepresenting results of the investigation and blaming the explosion on the Spanish, the press was able to whip the public into a war frenzy, with the slogan, “Remember the Maine,” becoming the battle cry that led the United States into war with Spain.
Until the Bush coalition came into power, attempts to suppress freedom of the press had failed to constrain journalists driven to expose government’s corruption. In spite of the risk of their becoming targets of anti-communist smear tactics, T.V. station owners did not prevent Edward R. Morrow from confronting Joseph McCarthy with his misuse of power in a live broadcast, an act of courage which played a major role in turning the tide against politicians who had used threats and intimidation to cripple the democratic process.
When journalists brought scenes of the horror of Vietnam into U.S. citizens’ living rooms, the government lost the public’s support for the campaign. The Bush administration’s partnership with the press has prevented this type of awakening to the horrors of the military’s aggression against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. To the contrary, their manipulation of the news has turned the violence employed by our military into a re-election boon.
A Mock Election
The 2004 presidential election may be remembered as the most corrupt and fraudulent in U.S. history.
With both dominant parties representing the war interests, Democratic candidate Kerry and Republican candidate Bush offered no substantial difference in the way of a future agenda. Credible alternative candidates, such as Kucinich and Nader were blocked from real participation, Kucinich by being “blacked out” and Nader by being “set out” for a ruthless smear campaign.
Between the mainstream and so-called “progressive” press, news coverage was tied up with issues dictated by the two parties, the former promoting Bush and the latter promoting Kerry. As a result, the unethical conduct of the Democratic and Republican parties related to their restricting participation in the elections was not exposed. The progressive press became the main vehicle for the Nader smear campaign, publishing a barrage of articles slandering and discrediting the man whose work on behalf of the American consumer earned him accolades in a time when journalism was less predatory.
But the abuse didn’t stop there. After meeting legal requirements, Mr. Nader was still prevented from getting his name on the ballot in some states.
Leaders in fundamentalist church associations continued their vigorous support of Mr. Bush, disseminating “information flyers” comparing the two candidates to be handed out to church congregations. While the issues of abortion and same sex marriage were highlighted, the issue of the pending attack on Fallujah in Iraq by the U.S. military was not.
The Republicans showed how far they were willing to go to block voter rights in the 2000 presidential election in Florida. Warnings about the new “Black Box” voting machines lending themselves to voter fraud had been widely published. Anyone expecting the 2004 election to be more honest than the 2000 election, with the administration’s having four years to get ready, was more than a little naive.
Complaints related to fraud in the voting process include wholesale spoiling of ballots, stuffing ballot boxes, electronically of course, and impeding voters attempting to cast their votes – running out of pencils, reporting voting machines being out of service, and sending voters on wild goose chases in search of their voting precinct. In some areas the vote count was grossly in excess of the numbers of voters. Exit balloting conducted in key states where Bush was declared the winner indicate that Kerry was the actual winner in those states.
Let us not forget the millions of prospective voters who have been disenfranchised because of laws which criminalize drug use and strip offenders of Constitutional rights, including the right to vote out sponsors of the corrupt judicial system responsible for their plight.
A Hard Lesson in Peace
The recent election provided an opportunity for people of this country to prove their true patriotism by putting the country on the right course. No matter what the excuse – fear of terrorism, concern for the survival of Western civilization, belief that God favors George Bush, or even the desire to protect our children – there is no justification for the unprovoked massacre of innocent people in Afghanistan, Iraq, or the many other places in the world where the U.S. has used its military muscle to crush peoples’ lives for the cause of Empire.
Surely the people who elected George Bush have an idea of what goes on in an all out attack against a helpless town. They know the excesses that occur in the midst of war -- the rapes, the murders, the torture -- still they voted for the man, and the Congressmen, who put our country on the ungodly path of conquest for power.
Following the U.S. attack on Afghanistan, the comment was made that war hawks’ need for a villain like Osama ben Ladin in order to justify the attack was such that they would have created him if necessary. Similarly, it could be said that without bad guy Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, current U.S. military assaults designed to clean out resistence to the occupation could not have been used to enhance Bush’s re-election campaign.
With the mounting evidence implicating the Bush administration in the bombing of the U.S. Trade Center, how long will the tactic of playing up the role of people like ben Ladin, Hussein, and Zarqawi as villains continue to be effective in garnering support for our government’s aggression? 1) If irrefutable evidence of the administration’s complicity in the nine eleven assault and other terrorist activities was disclosed, would President Bush loose the support of his backers? And if he did, would they be able at this late date to wrest the reins of power from his grip?
With the president claiming a mandate from the American people for his hawkish agenda, and with his control of the Supreme Court, the press, and the military, what is there to prevent his imposing totalitarian rule?
The people of the USA have been protected from exposure to the ugliness of war’s violence. Let us hope that it’s not required of us to experience the horrors inflicted by our government on the people of Fallujah – the sight of loved ones lying dead in the street, the hunting down of resisters for execution, the destruction of our homes and towns – in order for the American people to learn to hate war and love peace.
And let us hope it doesn’t take lose of liberty to realize freedom’s worth.
Liberty’s True Home
The Constitution doesn’t grant freedom; it provides for its protection. George W. Bush doesn’t have the power to take a person’s freedom, but he has the power to violate individual rights and he uses it.
Freedom resides in the human spirit. Some people never give up their freedom, even though they be beaten, imprisoned, or tortured. Others never know a moment’s freedom, even though they live the lives of monarchs.
A large percentage of the population in this country oppose the course that our leaders have put our country on, but the impetus for a cleanup of U.S. politics was thwarted by the “anybody but Bush” campaign in the 2004 elections. Like the victims of the “War on Drugs,” those of us who hold to the vision of the United States as leader among nations in the struggle to preserve a safe and healthy future for our children have been disenfranchised – having had our voices suppressed and our choices stolen by the war coalition and their supporters.
But we must not fall prey to the tactics used to splinter and crush opposition to the use of our country’s strength for the building of a bloody empire. We must get around the corrupted media as best we can to make our voices heard. Let’s remind ourselves that, in spite of the perverted image of the populace that has been created as a result of the disgraceful carrying out of this election, there are many U.S. citizens who still cherish peace and liberty,.
Our freedom resides in our hearts, and our strength is our faith in the principles of liberty as expressed in the Constitution. Let us resolve to stand firm until the people of this country embrace democracy again.
1) The Wikipedia online encyclopedia overview of the conspiracy theory related to the Bush administration’s connection to the nine eleven attacks can be accessed by use of the following link:
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