The Real Choice In This American Presidential Election
PublishedJuly 30, 2012
“The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it.”
“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
“It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.”
Consider these three political quotes. Each speaks to the idea of government by fear both of its external enemies and of its own people. Who spoke these words is revealed at the end of the post.
There was a time when the United States was the strongest and freest democracy in the world. It was criticized, mocked and even accused but nobody doubted its commitment to freedom and the triumph of the rights of the individual over the power of government. Even its critics gave grudging admiration for the fierce independence of individual Americans and how quick they were to resist attempts by government to undermine their rights and freedoms. Perhaps no nation on earth held its constitution in such high regard as the United States.
It is, quite frankly, what set it apart from other nations, including most other democracies. As a result, it was the first and only choice of millions fleeing oppressive regimes and impoverished nations around the world.
America has changed.
Since 9/11 its government has operated out of fear rather than confidence. It has reacted inconsistently to real and imagined threats by infringing on the guaranteed rights of its citizens in certain situations and violation of its own laws. It has justified the use of torture to obtain information, thrown out the presumption of innocence and the right of judicial due process against those it considers a threat to national security and has moved closer to having more in common with the values of its enemies than of its own constitution.
Under the Bush/Cheney administration, Guantanamo became a stain on the American concept of law and justice. People, presumed but not proven to be terrorists, were arrested and held indefinitely. Most were denied legal representation for much of their incarceration and the administration of torture was used in order to try and obtain information.
This was highly criticized by Barrack Obama during his run for president in 2008 and he promised to close Guantanamo. He did not keep that promise.
In 2008 when he was running for president, Barrack Obama said, “Guantanamo is entirely unnecessary and the detainees should not be interrogated.”
In 2011, President Obama reversed his stated principles and said, “Vital intelligence was obtained from Guantanamo detainees that led to our locating Bin Laden.”
Now, President Obama who continues to criticize the previous administration for doing what he is doing is preparing to go even further in the suppression of basic democratic rights and the Constitution of the United States and its Bill of Rights. President Obama is now proposing indefinite detention for those the government believes ‘may’ pose a threat but who are guilty of no crime. If he is re-elected and he is successful at passing this legislation, citizens and non-citizens alike can be arrested and held without charge for as long as the government wishes and those arrested will have no recourse under the law to defend themselves.
It amazes me that more Americans were violently upset with the attempt by government to impose some level of regulation on the Internet than are concerned with the possibility of being arrested without charge and held without legal representation for as long as the government deems necessary.
I appreciate that it is all too easy for Democratic Party and President Obama supporters to simply dismiss this as fear mongering and right-wing paranoia so let’s hear what a well known left-wing journalist and long-time Obama supporter thinks of it all. This video clip is fairly long but it is important enough for anyone who wants to be aware of what is happening to their country to watch it in its entirety.
Personally, I don’t take these kinds of pronouncements lightly. History is littered with societies that lost their freedom, not to invaders, but from a constant erosion of basic civil liberties and fundamental rights by democratically elected government that eventually became the very tyranny they originally opposed.
You cannot fight injustice by being unjust and you cannot preserve the values of a nation by betraying and violating those values. The United States is built upon one of the most carefully and thoughtfully crafted constitutions in the world and for a politician to believe that he has the right to undermine the principles of that document in the name of protecting the nation is a dangerous travesty. If President Obama is going to impose on his nation the very thing he claims to be fighting, what is it he is actually fighting?
In 2008, when running for president he said, “Bin Laden is innocent until proven guilty and must be captured alive and given a fair trial.”
In 2011 as president he said, “I authorized Seal Team 6 to kill Bin Laden.”
The issue isn’t whether or not you believe Bin Laden deserved to die. The issue is whether or not you believe your president should present one set of values to the people in order to get elected and then do exactly the opposite when in office. This isn’t about terrorism; it is about using terrorism as an excuse to transfer more power to government by taking away the rights of a people. This is about integrity, the American Constitution and the rule of law.
When you do what you criticized others for doing, you have become what you criticized.
In 2008 candidate Barrack Obama was highly critical of the Bush/Cheney administration and I believe with some justification. He stated, “Navy Seal Team 6 is Cheney’s private assassination team.”
After the killing of Bin Laden, President Obama was quick to take credit and said publicly, “I put together Seal Team 6 to take out Bin Laden.”
Which is it? Is the president for due process or opposed to it? Was he opposed to Navy Seal hit teams or did he create one? And now, does he propose to protect and uphold the constitution by honouring its stated principles or does he believe he can violate his oath of office, erode the rights guaranteed in the constitution and still somehow, maintain the integrity of what that constitution stands for?
What does this president stand for? Do you really know or do you only know what you would like to believe he stands for? Does he stand for what he said in 2008 or what he has done and said since then which contradicts it? Is he prepared to defend the rights of citizens according to the constitution or will he go even farther in undermining those rights than George Bush and Dick Cheney? If you don’t know the answers to those questions, you would be well advised to find the answers before you vote.
President Obama is not the leader for our time. He is glib rather than thoughtful. He is divisive rather than unifying. He has demonstrated a cynical ability to trade principle for expediency and a willingness to commit the same constitutional violations for which he has criticized others.
In the same speech where he laid out his grand plan to detain and imprison people for what they ‘might’ do rather than for what they have been duly charged and convicted of doing, President Obama again criticized the Bush/Cheney record on judicial process. It is more than just a little hypocritical for a president to claim the moral high ground when it comes to legality when he proposes to do the same thing and especially when he continues to support his own Attorney General was found in contempt of Congress. Either you are prepared to defend and protect the law or you aren’t. There is no in between.
I am conservative but was violently opposed to what the Bush administration did at Guantanamo. I recognized that if they could justify violating the principles of the American Constitution and judicial system for some, they could rationalize violating it for anyone.
The fact that it is now a Democratic president doing the same thing and, in fact, has announced he is willing to go even further to eroding due process and fundamental rights like the presumption of innocence, doesn’t make it any less worthy of the harshest criticism.
This election Americans must choose between being supporting a particular political party or simply being Americans and supporting their constitution and their rights and freedoms. They must choose whether as Americans they will protect the freedoms guaranteed in their constitution or are prepared to to lose them by blindly voting along ideological lines.
Americans have a choice and it isn’t just between Obama and Romney. This election is about whether Americans want to lose their right to live freely, unafraid of their government or whether they want to buy the illusion of security by trading away those fundamental rights. I encourage my American friends to choose wisely not only for their sake but for the sake of democracy throughout the world.
“The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it.” -Adolf Hitler
“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” -Joseph Stalin
“It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.” -Vladimir Lenin
In the end, however, perhaps it is this fourth quote that Americans would do well to remember before casting their ballot. It was made by an American and considering what is happening today, is quite prophetic.
A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.