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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Are YOU Ready for the Complete Dismantling of Democracy

The persistent theme of these policies and actions, domestic and international, is to acquire power--to seize it, to increase it and to keep it for good. A systemic crisis--a threat to the Constitution of the United States--has taken shape. At the end of this road is an implied vision of a different system: a world run by the United States and a United States run permanently by the Republican Party, which is to say imperial rule abroad, one-party rule at home. Somewhere along that road lies a point of no return. It is in the nature of warnings in general that you cannot know whether the danger in question will come, or be averted by timely action, or perhaps never present itself at all. But it's also in the nature of warnings that one must act on them before it is too late, and this is especially true in the case of threats to democracy. That is why the danger to democracy takes primacy over other perils that are in themselves greater, including nuclear war and irreversible damage to the ecosphere through global warming. (It is notable that none of these three perils has been more than glancingly mentioned in the election debates that have just ended.)

No one can know when or how the decisive test of democracy might arrive. It could come quickly, perhaps in a crackdown following another terrorist attack on American soil, this time conceivably on a far greater scale than September 11, or it could come slowly, in a protraction of the process, already well under way, of gradual strangulation of independent institutions, amounting to a coup in slow-motion--a hardening of an informal monopoly of power into a formal monopoly--leaving the institutions of democracy technically intact but corrupted and hollowed out from within, helpless to resist a central authority that has drawn all real power into its own hands.

--The Nation, 10/28

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