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News ::
Vote Against An Imperial Presidency (english)
15 Oct 2002
Please read all of the following and consider carefully before deciding whether and how to vote in the upcoming elections.
Please read all of the following and consider carefully before deciding whether and how to vote in the upcoming elections.

A vote against an imperial presidency

By Carla Binion

Many Democrats are understandably angry because some of our elected representatives voted with Bush on the Iraq war resolution. The problem is, if Republicans gain control of Congress, they'll dominate all three branches of government.

If we end up with a Republican-dominated Congress, in addition to a Republican White House and Republican-dominated Supreme Court, there will be virtually no branch of government to put the breaks on any plan the Bush adminstration devises.

As John Dean points out in a recent article, Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials have long wanted to weaken Congress and move toward an imperial presidency.

Dean mentions that Cheney has refused to turn over information on his Energy Task Force meetings as requested by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), "forcing an unprecedented lawsuit which is currently pending."

Dean says, "I'm told by Washington journalists and scholars who daily seek information from the Executive Branch as part of their jobs and research, that making GAO file a lawsuit is merely the tip of the iceberg. Far more broadly, Cheney seeks to place a blanket freeze on information."

The point is, of course, that Cheney (who has always advocated government secrecy) is making a play to eliminate checks and balances on Executive power. Without government oversight, the President and Vice-President will have unlimited, unaccountable power.

In that case, the current presidency will become a virtual monarchy.

"If GAO loses its lawsuit, that will virtually put Congress out of the business of oversight over the Executive Branch," says Dean.

He adds, "A court loss for GAO thus will mean that there are no real checks whatsoever on the President or Vice President - for it is impossible for Congress, or the public, to exercise oversight over that of which it is not even aware."

Dean also says, "Clearly Cheney wants greater powers for the presidency. There is only one problem, and it is spelled out in those sheets of parchment where the Framers laid out our system of government. They rejected monarchy, even a temporary king or queen. (George Washington had no interest in being a King.)...

"They also rejected even a single-branch system of democratic government, insisted on the checks and balances of two legislative houses and an independent judiciary. Our government derives its power from the people. That power is shared at federal, state and local levels, and further divided within branches at every level."

Dean concludes, "The men who designed this government did not have efficiency in mind. To the contrary, they divided the powers of government to make certain no one had too much power. They knew the cost would be delay, negotiation, and compromise, but they believed the expense modest for insurance against tyranny."

Tyranny seems to be what Cheney has in mind, though. He will be much more likely to get it if Democrats are too angry with their representatives to get out the vote.

We have to remember that the good-guy Democrats who voted against the war resolution and worked so hard for those of us who oppose it, would also be punished if we end up with a Republican-dominated Congress.

Senators and representatives such as Byrd, Kennedy, Sarbanes, Kucinich, Lee and the others who supported us would be overwhelmed on every issue if we let Congress go to the Republicans. We would make their work much harder by failing to get out the vote for Democrats.

One other point to consider is this: Our elected Democratic leaders aren't the only ones who could have done better for the country over the past few years. Large numbers of average Americans have slacked off doing their job of good citizenship.

Those of us who work hard almost every day to communicate the facts, connect with our elected representatives and otherwise stay politically active are an exception. However, far too many Americans don't even go to the trouble of voting. In large part because of the lazy indifference of many potential voters, we've been getting the government we deserve, and our Democratic leaders aren't entirely to blame.

This is no time to hold grudges, because the stakes are too high. I hope Democrats shock the GOP by turning up at polls in overwhelming numbers. This won't be a vote for those who failed us on the war resolution, but a vote against Dick Cheney's effort to eliminate all Congressional oversight of the Vice-President and President; a vote against his effort to cripple Congress and to make George W. Bush emperor.

We can deal with the Democrats we dislike LATER. Now is not the time.

In the upcoming elections, a vote for any Democrat is a vote to support the good guys such as Senator Robert Byrd. It's also a vote against an imperial presidency.

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