It appears to be a sign of our times that the concept of democracy has been manipulated by politicians promoting their particular vision rather than an absolute around which a national ethos is defined. Our country rests uneasily on the ill-constructed platform of an agenda that chews away at freedoms once believed to be our birthright. Feeding on our fear the administration has assumed powers and suggested a righteousness neither enunciated by the Constitution nor exemplified by its actions.
The president proclaimed his munificence in allowing elections to take place in a time of war which provided some insight into the workings of his mind. It had been suggested that he might try to subvert the electoral process by declaring a wartime emergency, ridiculous as such a suggestion seemed at the time. But his statement made clear that it had been a consideration after all. And on one of his stump swings during the campaign he finally mentioned a basic reason for our presence in Iraq – – we have to prevail in the Middle East, he said, or risk having our oil supply restricted by a terrorist leadership there in the future. Who knew or rather who didn’t know?
Now that election results are in Republicans are behaving as if nothing had changed – – bi-partisanship in their political lexicon being defined as Democrats going along with whatever right-wing frippery comes down from the White House. According to Senator John Cornyn, R. Arizona, Senate Democrats, to prove their bi-partisanship, should vote to confirm federal court nominees far out of the mainstream, one of whom has actually been deemed “unqualified” by the American Bar Association, a classification rather less enthusiastic than the lukewarm “qualified” sometimes offered up for lackluster candidates. Cornyn, you may recall, after a violent criminal at trial grabbed a guard’s gun and killed the judge, said that while he didn’t condone such acts, he understood the anger many in the public felt about activist judges – – a man for our times alright.
And just in case the ‘other side’ hadn’t gotten the message yet, Senator Mitch McConnell, R. Kentucky, warned that if Democrats fail to allow judicial nominees to go forward, his party would block whatever legislation they proposed. Never mind that the country is very much in the middle of the political spectrum and that voters in the mid-term elections proved as much despite outrageous gerrymandering and pervasive propaganda advancing the Republican cause.
Making the administration’s case that proves there is to be no bi-partisan resolution, Attorney General Gonzales insists warrantless surveillance must be approved by Congress and that a court ruling making it unconstitutional was, as VP Cheney put it, an ‘overreach.’ Congress has indicated its willingness to extend the period of unrestricted intervention if the seventy-two-hour window now in effect isn’t sufficient to determine whether or not surveillance is appropriate, but not to make the practice open-ended, lest it become increasingly broad, invasive and not subject to proper oversight.
What seems an unpleasant outcropping of the constant fear-mongering and autocratic tendencies at the top of government is a disturbing trend in the country to resort to draconian measures not seen since the civil rights movement of the sixties. In Houston, police allowed their horses to trample demonstrating laborers with an outcome less lethal yet eerily reminiscent of government-sanctioned brutality in China’s Tiananmen Square some years back. And in California in the UCLA library, a student of Indian descent was repeatedly tasered by police for refusing to produce his identity card in what seemed an unprovoked profiling incident. Understandably, there is growing concern about the excesses of such over-reaching methods of population control.
In November the electorate seemed ready for a return to normalcy – – an end to partisan bickering, a solution to the mess in Iraq, a different direction in many respects from what this president has laid out for the last six years. Policies that have failed to move the country in a positive direction and politicians who profess values they are disinclined to observe have left the country disillusioned and wary of its leadership. While not ignoring the danger of terrorism voters seemed to be saying enough with color alerts and religious platitudes; that strategy seems to have played itself out.
Democrats will have to chart a sober, well-considered course that speaks to the concerns voters have expressed and accomplishes goals that are attainable in the face of Republican intransigence in Congress and the White House. Republicans would do well to phase out their fear-based, power-grabbing agenda and listen to what real ‘Middle America’ is saying.

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