Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Arguments to the Contrary

I go on vacation for a few days and come back to find out that Bush is playing Dictator, again, this time by tossing around the idea of postponing the presidential elections in case of a terrorist attack (or if it looks like Kerry might actually win). Oh, but there I go, getting all paranoid. What will Kevin Drum think?

I still don't think this is part of any nefarious plot to turn America into Amerika, but there's not really much point in arguing about it. If you believe this, nothing I say is going to change your mind.

What's intriguing, though, is that the paranoia is so thick that no one is bothering to talk about whether this is a good idea on a substantive level.

I don't mean to single out Mr Drum, who is a fine blogger, if a little blinkered at times by his own success as a moderate commentator. There are others, I'm sure, who aren't bothered by the fact that all that stands between our struggling democracy and a dictatorship is a four member pannel with executive powers, appointed by a President who has publicly stated that it'd be a whole lot easier to run things if this were a dictatorship. So here's some substantive level talk for you, Mr. Drum, et. al.: This is a fucking stupid idea. Allow me to illustrate.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president (and the first from the Republican Party). Durring his presidency, he assumed more power than any other president in U.S. history. He proclaimed a blockade, suspended the writ of habeas corpus for anti-Union activity, and spent money without congressional authorization, all in an effort to preserve the Union during the Civil War. You know what he didn't do? Suspend the electoral process. Even with internal rebellion that resulted in some of the bloodiest battles in recorded history, being fought not only on our shores but on our lawns and in our parlors, Lincoln never felt that the process that is key to the well ordered continuation of our democratic system was in need of suspension. Not even a little bit.

Likewise, FDR never suspended elections, even durring World War II. Osama Bin Laden might be a bad guy (I might even go so far as to call him an "Evil Doer," if it didn't make him sound a little too much like Cobra Commader) but you'd be hard pressed to convince me he is worse a threat to democracy than Jefferson Davis or Adolf Hitler.

This is taking the long way around the barn to make a simple point: the idea of suspending the elections due to some vague potential threat is a bad idea, regardless of which president thought of it. That it was conceived under the watch of George W. Bush is not only bad but worthy of tinfoil hatted paranoia. So with all due respect, Mr. Drum and all you armchair moderates out there who don't want to loose your cool, or your cushy little job as a paid blogger for the status quo, you'd better get paranoid. Because the last four years has proven that these people will abuse their power, and for far pettier reasons.


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