7/4 Changed Everything!

2 comments July 4th, 2006at 03:01pm Posted by Eli

Christy at firedoglake has a great Fourth-Of-July roundup of excerpts from the Declaration Of Independence and the writings of the Founders. She focuses mainly on the dangers of an unchecked Executive, and how they attempted to thwart that accumulation of power.

Structurally, I believe the Constitution does about as fine a job of checking Executive powers as is humanly possible. The Founders understood that politicians’ lust for power is as immutable and constant as gravity, and used that fact to craft a balance, much as an architect or engineer factors in the pull of gravity when they design a building. Where their vision failed them was when Republicans in Congress began to make common cause with Republicans in the White House, to the extent of willingly yielding all their power to the Executive. No matter how far President Bush pushes the limits of his Executive powers (ignoring Constitution and law; using signing statements to override the will of Congress), Congress goes along with it. Occasionally they make some noise about expressing grave concerns, but they never actually act on it (I’m looking at you, Arlen).

But as bad as this consolidation of power is, it is only part of the problem with our democracy today. I believe that the larger problem, the problem which has in fact enabled this Executive takeover, is with the mechanisms of accountability, not balance. I have said it before, but I believe it is more important than all the issues combined, so it bears repeating, especially today:

accountability is the hallmark of democracy, while impunity is the hallmark of dictatorship. A democratic government must look out for the interests of its citizens, or be voted out (or worse), while a dictatorship has no such worries, other than staving off the occasional coup attempt. Almost every policy disaster, fiasco, and scandal of the past 4+ years can be attributed to the ascendancy of impunity over accountability, as the U.S. under Bush has increasingly come to resemble a banana republic.

…I believe that the two most important pillars of accountability are elections… and the news media, which is where most of the electorate finds out about what their elected officials are up to and what it means to them and the country and world in general, and I believe that both have become severely, if not fatally, compromised.

The Republicans have been able to consolidate power within an increasingly all-powerful Executive because they have not paid an electoral price for it. And the reason that they have not paid a price for it is that the corporate-owned media has consistently promoted the Republican perspective, and the elections are rigged and gamed in their favor through vote suppression, voter intimidation, and probably electronic vote-tampering as well.

Until accountability is restored, we will be at the mercy of a party that looks at the Constitution not with reverence, but with the cold, appraising eye of an Enron lawyer looking for loopholes.

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Elections,Favorites,Media,Politics,Republicans,Specter,Wankers


  • 1. Matt  |  July 4th, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    Great post, Eli. It reminds me of some of the points Al Gore made in his MLK Day speech.

    Let’s hope that a few years from now, July 4th is a day of celebration rather than a day of mourning for lost ideals . . .

  • 2. Eli  |  July 4th, 2006 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks, Matt. Gore did a great job of describing the problem, but no-one seems very focused on how we got there in the first place. The Dems are alarmingly complacent about both media consolidation *and* election reform.

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