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Political Power

When I started this web site in the late 90's I was most concerned about the growing power of the Religious Right. They emphasized that their interpretation of the Biblical teachings was the right one and the future of America could be preserved only if everyone was made to follow their rules. After two terms of the Bush administration I can see that I had misunderstood the most important threat to the American people.

The recent HBO special, Recount, highlighted the big problem of America in this new millennium: setting party before country. Political power is much more important than serving the wishes and welfare of Americans.

The Republican Party gained the Presidency in 2001 in part by getting the Religious Right to back their candidates in their party. The party's ambition was clear in that Florida recount, where the priority was keeping Bush the winner in Florida regardless of whether a majority of those casting their vote in Florida really wanted Bush.

Once in power, the Republican Party closed ranks and proceeded to give the Bush administration free rein, with no oversight even on questionable or illegal actions. Though the 2006 elections gave the Democrats parity in the Senate, the Republicans continued to vote as a block (typically zero votes for anything countering the administration's wishes) to prevent any oversight or even a slight change in direction for this country.

In 2008, even after Dennis Kucinich submitted his 35 articles of impeachment, a thorough documenting of the improper acts of this president, still the Democratic Party refuses to take any action toward holding the executive branch accountable. In fact, Congress continues to give the Bush administration whatever it wants like the recent FISA bill or the Iraq war funding bill.

Our legislators take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution. The writ of habeas corpus actually is in the Constitution, being more important than any of the Bill of Rights. The Bush administration suspended this right for those it wished, especially those imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, and yet the Congress does nothing to prevent such actions. Top officials in the administration were involved in approving torture, in clear violation of the Geneva Convention, and yet nothing is done to bring those directing these war crimes to justice. In 2006 the New York Times revealed that many wire taps were ordered without any court oversight which is illegal but Congress did nothing. Clearly Congress is not upholding the Constitution.

In 2006, the election results clearly confirmed what the popular polls had found: the majority of Americans want our military involvement in Iraq to end. Shortly after the election, the Bush administration sent many more troops to Iraq, supposedly for a brief surge of perhaps 6 months but that still continues, and Congress did not prevent it. Now in 2008 we find that the Bush administration is trying to get the Iraqi government to approve of our having 58 permanent military bases in Iraq.

The number of Americans that approve of Congressional competence is dreadful, typically less than 20%.

If Congress is not upholding the Constitution and if Congress is not following the will of the electorate then what drives Congress into action?

The most likely answer (since I cannot read the minds of our Congressman) is the lobbying infrastructure in Washington. Many have noted that the election campaigns are primarily funded by those corporate interests seeking help from the congressman. Congressional staff and the Washington bureaucracy can be enticed to well paying corporate jobs if favors to corporate requests are honored. A typical election campaign has become just a facade of listening to voters who are given speeches of promises and attacks on an opponent. Once in office, none of those campaign promises are relevant as the congress collectively works with the corporate interests in keeping the big businesses of America profitable. Many have pointed out that some new bills submitted have been written by lobbyists rather than the congressional staff. Many have pointed out the typically a congressman does not even read a bill before voting on it.

The pathetic groveling by the three major candidates at the recent AIPAC conference (June 4, 2008) where each stated that America will do whatever is needed by Israel even if that means attacking a country like Iran that is in no way a threat to America. These speeches reveal that there is no commitment to a real peace in the Middle East, one that is fair and just for ALL people in the region. The only peace being pursued seems to be one that is approved by AIPAC.

The American government, at least the executive and legislative branches (the judicial branch is now only 4/9; one more Supreme Court Justice like Alito or Scalia will tip the scales to 5/9), has apparently wholeheartedly adopted the Fuhrerprinzip, where the leader of the executive branch is the supreme ruler. Many on the right wing, including Republicans in Congress and its many media pundits, now seem to consider it treason to doubt or question or criticize anything that the leader does.

This is not the government envisioned by our Founding Fathers as defined by our Constitution and its Bill of Rights.

Given the near impossibility of third party candidates getting through the hurdles imposed by Democratic and Republican legislatures and with most campaign funds going to those most willing to keep the status quo, it is difficult to imagine how this situation can be improved for most Americans. The only portion of the electorate being served is the upper class, those already having influence in Wall Street and in Washington

created - June 2008
last change - 06/28/2008
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