Only Radical Change Will Restore Our Future

I learned nothing new from the release of the congressional torture report, but it enraged me once again. How dare these bastards defile our democracy with such barbaric behavior!

The torturers will go free.

There is more than a little reason to believe that the US is becoming nearly the opposite of what our fundamental documents say it is.

We are all being spied on in direct violation of the Constitution. Our government is constantly waging secret wars, paid for by secret money. Police forces nationwide have become militarized, and have violated the most fundamental rights of citizens and non-citizens alike, particularly African-Americans. Corporations and their bosses have more money and power than ever before, and they use it to justify all sorts of evils, from skirting protective environmental laws, tax avoidance, undue influence over Congress, to cheating workers worldwide. Internationally, they leave huge chunks of the land they rape utterly destroyed, the people who had lived there for centuries homeless and injured. Congress has been purchased. It looks more and more like the only thing that will save us is massive and persistent resistance. I hope the demonstrations in many cities these past few days help create change.

The US is becoming
nearly the opposite of what
our fundamental documents say it is.

We are going down. There has been very little good news on the moral front for a long time. The American Dream and universal freedom we love are already gone. We are the world’s biggest pariah, the world’s worst demon.

There are two good choices for what to do about the torturers and their apologists in our government. The first is to prosecute them. Various rights organizations have been promoting this for more than a decade, with absolutely nothing to show for it other than growing public awareness. Such an action would have to come from the Obama administration, and the president has made it clear that he will not pursue this course.

The United Nations is considering prosecution, which does not depend on the cooperation of the US. In addition, several governments whose citizens we captured and tortured, who were never fooled by torture apologists, long ago indicted certain Bush administration officials. If any of them travel to these countries, they will be arrested and charged.

The only thing that will save us
is massive and persistent resistance.

While prosecution is still possible, it is unlikely, and would clearly be difficult, if for no other reason than Republicans would automatically oppose it, regardless of the evidence. Because of this unlikelihood, the proposal from ACLU Director Anthony Romero, although decidedly second best, is more realistic. The suggestion is that President Obama formally pardon President Bush, responsible members of his administration, and other top executives, for the torture they committed or approved of in office.

The result would be that the US government would go on record as officially recognizing their activities as torture, and recognizing torture as illegal under US and international law. It would not satisfy our urge to throw them all in slam, but it would go a long way toward restoring our moral rudder and our badly soiled reputation among nations. It won’t happen. The torturers will go free and we will take no responsible steps.

What to do about the amoral Republican party is another question. Three-fourths of the way through Obama’s term, Republicans have been utterly consistent in opposition to all things Obama, regardless of the effect on the nation and its people. In fact, they have largely devoted themselves to crippling the government in every way they can imagine, including shutting it down by not approving a budget, constantly attempting to close every important and popular government agency, subverting the vote with gerrymandering and nuevo Jim Crow laws, crippling the functioning of government by refusing to approve dozens of executive nominations, giving away our money to the very rich through various tax avoidance schemes that worsen inequality, and ignoring the global environmental catastrophe already lapping at our ankles. In short, Republicans have done everything they can to prevent the normal functioning of government for the people of the USA. One would be hard pressed to show that this is remotely beneficial for the country.

What to do about
the amoral Republican party
is another question.

They have traveled a great distance from the party of a half-century ago, when it was still pretty much the party of Lincoln, and cared about all Americans. Now they represent privilege, inequality, the death of essential government services for ordinary citizens, and corporate corruption. The things they promote are uniformly disastrous for the country.

This is not something Democrats can cure. Only right-thinking Republicans can summon the moral courage to challenge their party’s disastrous drift into amorality and restore its purpose. Only Republicans can reestablish Congress as a deliberative body functioning on reason and compromise. Democrats can cheer every positive step, but the real job must fall to Republicans.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. While your criticisms of the Republicans are well-justified, I think you are too easy on Democrats and President Obama. If Obama doesn’t have it in him to prosecute torturers, he could at least refrain from prosecuting those who reveal torture and other crimes and he could refrain from appointing defenders of torture such as CIA director John Brennan to high office.

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  2. Actually, I agree. An upcoming post should make it clear that I’m not happy with Obama in this regard. I am happy, though, that more Gitmo prisoners are finally being released.

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  3. I will say that there would not have been a Senate torture report if there had been a Republican majority in the Senate.

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