Because freedom can't protect itself
The loss of the Great Writ is the reason I joined the ACLU. Thank goodness you folks are still on the attack.
I'm glad you pointed out the most important part about this- that Bush did not act alone. Nothing he has done over the past two years would have been possible without the sheepish help of the Democratic party. But, no worries because I'm sure Obama will save the world. All we have to do is vote and then hope for the next four years. Right?
The MCA is truly a travesty of epic proportions.
Unfortunately, there are several systemic causes that have contributed to the creation of the "soil" in which this and other weeds have grown.
1) American Exceptionalism - It is one thing to say that the "American Idea" is exceptional and it is quite another to say that the American people are exceptional. We have moved from the former to the latter. There was a day when our government and citizenry valued the rights of foreign nationals and considered our rights bound up with theirs, but that day has long since passed us by. Our core principles have been consumed by unblinkingly short-sighted self-interest.
2) The political climate has become binary instead of nuanced. Nuance in our political discourse was officially pronounced dead the moment when President Bush said "Either you are with us or against us." This sort of absolutist, binary ideology eventually becomes policy. Presumably, the next logical inference from President Bush's statement would be this: If you're against us, why should we afford you the rights of those who are for us? When political discourse moves from complexity to simple dichotomization, everyone's liberty is in danger.
3) The marriage of faith with the function of the state has turned the current administration into an equal and opposite version of the fundamentalism they are battling. Blind faith allows its adherents to hold mutually contradicting beliefs without sensing the inherent tension. This is how President Bush can purport to be fighting for democracy while using tactics that fundamentally undermine nearly every democratic principle.
4) The vast expansion of executive powers following 9/11 has moved Congress closer and closer to playing Rome's Senate against President Bush's Caesar. In other words, it is a massive stretch to believe that there are effective checks and balances in place between the executive and legislative branches. This, combined with neoconservative opposition to "activist judges" (presumably the same ones who decided brown v. board), has created the perfect storm of executive expansionism. Without checks and balances, the administration does not need to worry about accountability and thus has the added sense of creating "right" and "wrong" rather than complying with right and wrong. In other words, sacrificing democracy for some Orwellian reality.
5) There has been a thorough debasement of intellectual rigor and reason in this country. Academics and intellectuals are now derided as "elitists" who are unable to relate to the everyday man and woman. It used to be that conservatives created an alternate system of intellectual rigor that offered legitimate criticism and other points of view, but this has been eschewed in favor of tearing down intellectualism itself. What is valued now are decisions that come from the gut rather than ones based on academically-understood data, rigor and thoroughly vetted alternatives.
Certainly, there are more issues than just these. But these are some of the major themes that have created space for the degradation of democratic principles in this country.
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