The road to dictatorship is well-traveled, with each discrete journey having one universal common denominator: political inaction. As citizens of democratic countries become less vigilant, a form of apathy sets in, rendering the usual methods of political correction like "throwing the rascals out" less and less effective. When political leaders know that the voting public is focused elsewhere, usually with diversions of a cultural nature, the tendency will be towards these leaders' ever-greater accumulation of power.
The health care reform debacle serves as a prime example. Despite the overwhelming evidence of American opposition to the Obama health care proposal, Harry Reid in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives rammed the popularly opposed legislation down the collective American throat. Some have speculated that this course of action was taken with full knowledge of the political cost in the next election. Reid and Pelosi by some accounts do not care about their personal positions, so long as their social agenda is successfully imposed, creating a circular replacement system that preserves their ideology notwithstanding political turnover. Perhaps. But at the heart of these seemingly suicidal moves is a deep-seated belief that Americans are too weary, too lazy, or too stupid to counteract this abhorrent behavior. And with plans in the works for universal voter registration, the time is limited when the ballot box will serve to correct political injustice. Soon, the political left will have a lock on the White House for years to come, especially when exploding immigrant populations in states with large numbers of electoral votes is considered. The bottom line: Pelosi and Reid actually believe that all the talk of the "blood of patriots," that famous Jeffersonian allusion, is just talk.
The political elite has learned that Americans are quick to forget. The short memory of the American public has opened the door to a blurring of party lines:
Republicans spend like Democrats, smother civil liberties in the name of security, mortgage America to China, attempt to impose martial law, bail out the financial malfeasance of the private sector, cut the military, and fast-track citizenship for millions of illegal aliens (ahem, voters), all while fighting numerous undeclared foreign wars. Democrats sell sensitive military technology to the Chinese (see Bill Clinton), let Osama bin Laden run free after his declaration of jihad, smother civil liberties in the name of security, engage the U.S. in multiple undeclared foreign wars in the name of peace, cut the military, attempt to impose martial law, pursue open socialism, bail out the private sector, naturalize swaths of illegal immigrant voters, and then play the moderate when elections roll around. Apart from slight changes in tax policy, "throwing the rascals out" no longer has the same effect. This blurring of party lines positioned Speaker Pelosi to claim the right to "deem" legislation passed without an actual House vote, thereby avoiding those pesky pitfalls of House-Senate philosophical differences. The problem? It was undemocratic, unconstitutional, and plain un-American. Although America has been temporarily spared from this travesty by means of Bart Stupak and his cowardly seven, the groundwork has been laid. If President Obama was willing to bypass Congress and scrap the Constitution in order to advance his health care legislation, what might he and his axis be willing to do to achieve more questionable goals? He has already indicated his willingness to use executive orders in the place of Congress, in one case overturning centuries of statutes governing the use of troops in the domestic arena. The power of martial law now rests with President Obama via executive decree.
Besides President Lincoln, there are few men with the moral stamina to take all power and then voluntarily give it back. And in the hands of a man like President Obama, seizures of power like this are breathtakingly dangerous. Americans must resist.
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Tea party speeches and saber-rattling will no longer cut it. If President Obama ignored the majority before his health care legislation was passed, in what sense would he feel obligated to heed the majority now that health care reform is law? Obama understands only one language: force. Therefore, we must meet his action with every kind of legitimate and legal force possible. The Civil Rights era, a time period Speaker Pelosi applied to the health care bill, can serve as the model, complete with mass protest and civil disobedience on a national scale. America must be pushed to the brink.
This is a time for people of all political persuasions to unite around some common principles. There are some things no American should tolerate. We should not allow petty politicians to spit upon America's hallowed democratic traditions. An assault on the freedom of one American is an assault on all.
Americans must speak up. Congress may provide at least some security. Directly accountable to the electorate, Congress has a historical role in reclaiming unconstitutionally exercised executive power [i]. But if Americans do not seek redress, then there will be no redress. It starts with a decision to abandon fear and say no. No longer can Americans stand by and let this perversion of a presidency devour American liberty unchallenged. Thomas Paine said it best:
These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
Americans today are still confronted by choices: freedom over security, action over comfort, and the risk of ridicule (or being branded a domestic terrorist) over anonymity. Now is not the time for armchair grumbling. Freedom can abandon this blessed land with the stroke of a pen. Americans' voices are still being heard, and it is still possible to make a difference. But the time for sunshine patriots is past. If the republic falls, let it fall loudly. [i] Louis Fisher, Constitutional Conflicts Between Congress and the President, 4th Ed., (University Press of Kansas, 1997) 132; Christopher S. Kelley, "A Comparative Look at the Constitutional Signing Statement," 61st Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, 2003.