The title of this article may seem alarmist, but the facts more than support it. Andrew Bacevich, a scholar not known for liberalism, says the American political "system is fundamentally corrupt and functions in ways inconsistent with the spirit of democracy."
Over three years, six Indian tribes, on the advice of Tom DeLay’s friend Jack Abramoff, gave $66 million to public relations man Michael Scanlon, formerly DeLay’s director oc communications. Abramoff was recently indicted in connection with other matters, and it remains to be seen if the Bush Justice Department will use this opportunity to probe his relationship with members of Congress.As Elizabeth Drew wrotes, everything is for sale in Washington. A source close to lobbyists reports, "There are no restraints now; business groups and lobbyists are going crazy—they’re in every room on Capitol Hill writing legislation. You can’t move on the Hill without giving money."
Yet the corruption Bacevich mentions runs much deeper than influence peddling and lining pockets. It involves a fundamental disrespect for democratic values. It is not confined to politicians. The touching , unrepublican reverence ordinary citizens pay a wartime president is not healthy. It has made it possible for an administration to take the nation into war based upon fake intelligence. The veneration of military prowess and belief that things American are naturally superior to those of other nations makes it easy for a regime to hollow out democracy at home and abroad. The abuse of detainees –- even children!--on our network of prisons is partly based on this false sense of superiority and the idea that military goals justify a multitude of grievous sins.
Contempt for democratic values and our political system is displayed in so many of the actions of those in power. Those who believe that the press serves a vital, though informal role in our system are alarmed by the Bush administration’s successful efforts to discourage investigative journalism and make the press dependent upon it for information. However, many do not believe that journalists serve the republic as watchdogs.
We should all be able to agree on the sanctity of the legislative process and the need that all elected representatives have ample opportunity to express their views and participate actively in framing legislation. In recent years, the House of Representatives has held open votes for long periods until people could be bribed or intimidated into changing their votes. Recently, it was held open an hour beyond the limit; two years ago it was 3 hours. When Speaker Jim Wright exceeded the limit by 15 minutes, there were many expressions of outrage. Legislative procedures, especially in the House, have been changed to prevent the minority from effectively proposing legislation or participating in the legislative process.
It is now not uncommon to exclude minority party members from committee meetings and even conference committees. Lobbyists sometimes are permitted to attend meeting from which elected representatives are excluded.. Legislation supported by 40% of the members of a chamber is frequently considered even at the committee level. Speaker Hastert has announced a new and unprecedented rule that only significant legislation approved by the majority of the Republican caucus can reach the floor.
Important legislation favored by the majority party in the House is usually considered under rules that forbid amendments. Likewise, decision s about when legislation reaches the follow of the House are often made in the wee hours of the morning so that only one party knows when a bill will come up for a vote. When the Democrats had power, the occasionally prevented amendments, but todays abuses far exceed what could have been imagined even in the 1980s, when Speaker Tip O’Neill and the majority occasionally stepped over the line.
The hollowing out of democracy can seen in the way political demonstrators are handled these days. In the 2004 campaign, demonstrators were kept large distances away from George W. Bush, being rounded up and placed in so-called "free speech areas." Recently, a woman who had lost her son in Iraq was kept four and a half miles from the president’s Crawford, Texas ranch. What does this say about out belief in free expression? That fact that so few ordinary Americans seem perfectly willing to accept these practices suggest that they share their leaders’ contempt for democratic values.
"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Orwell-- The US is probably moving toward becoming a heavily controlled Rightist state. This blog is an effort to document how that happened.
- Sherman De Brosse
- Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping. It can also be obtained through the on-line operations of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Do not consider purchasing it if you are looking for something that mirrors the mainstream media!