Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A single-issue election: Whither the American rule of law?

Cross-posted from comments to Chris Cillizza's The Fix - which got me on a roll about the upcoming election.

I am one of those who are far more enthusiastic to vote this year than in most previous elections - and while I voted almost straight-ticket Republican through the 2000 election, I have since re-registered as an independent and am now enthusiastic to vote for, and contribute to, Democratic candidates.

While I still value many of the stances Republicans traditionally espoused prior to 2000, the party under this administration has been hijacked into extremist policies bearing little resemblance to anything that attracted me to the GOP in the first place - like, say, a prudent fiscal policy, or wise and effective use of the military, or the overriding principle that government's primary job is to stay out of our business - all of which are now anathema to the Republicans in charge.

The way I see it, this is a single-issue campaign. The Republicans now in power have embraced, as their primary policy, an aggressive opposition to the Bill of Rights, to the separation of powers, to the rule of law - in short, to the Constitution that has been the foundation of America since its beginning. Their only political philosophy now is to fantasize that the Founding Fathers of America intended to create a presidency even more powerful than the office of king under George III - that they fought a war of revolution because they just couldn't bear being ruled by a chief executive who didn't hold enough arbitrary power over their lives.

While most Democrats have not had enough spine to take a stand on this (with a few terrific exceptions), nevertheless the Democrats, simply by default, have become the party of *not* vigorously trying to tear down the American rule of law. That is the only issue for me. If that fails, we have nothing.

Even before learning a single thing about what the Democrats have to offer, I cannot imagine how any thinking person of whatever American political tradition could listen to a rhetoric that is founded on surrendering all competing interests to overriding fear, and equating the large majority of Americans who disagree with the administration's policies with Nazi appeasers, and boasting of secret CIA prisons as a campaign highlight to excite their base, and not feeling the overriding need to run them out of office.

And with a president who campaigns based on letting Osama bin Laden dictate our entire foreign policy, despite having said before the election four years ago that "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority", and who has been unable to do anything about this one lousy guy despite having a military that has gone through a cumulative budget of over two trillion dollars since 9/11 and that has the cooperation of the governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and who let a great American city be largely destroyed even with all the advance warning of a disaster that one might hope for, assuring disaster managers from his vacation hideaway that everything would be just fine -- it seems impossible that any thinking person might still be suckered into the GOP sales pitch that they are somehow a better option for national security, rather than be aghast at the breathtaking military incompetence of this administration, and desperate to return to the kind of administration that actually proved itself in Kosovo to be a master of military effectiveness with no U.S. fatalities and no degradation in military readiness or diplomatic standing -- the kind of administration that understands and responds to the reality-based world rather than just grand theories, grand photo-ops, and grand soundbites.

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