Anybody Know When a Democracy Stops?
Much like Steve Soto, I did not find yesterday’s rejection on the Military Commissions Act a shining act of the good America ultimately triumphing yet again, but rather a depressing, disturbing sight of four fanatical Supreme Court Justices desperately holding up some tablets of bloody authoritarianism in their defiant dissent.
Despite everything that has gone wrong with countries in ruins, hundreds of thousands dead for nothing but lies, millions of American lives wrecked from economic ruin on a warming planet these utterly impervious men still resolutely resolve to cast aside the most precious tenets of our Democracy at their mere stupid and twisted whims, the roaring howls of human pain and suffering deafening to us just meaning nothing to them.
The great Hilzoy of Obsidian Wings described the thought of just one more vote swinging the decision the other way as “terrifying.” Even after 225 years the path of Democracy is never safe from one of those rare total polarity human social moments of on or off, it seems; one is pregnant or not, rich or poor, democracy or despotism. As a country we trudged along, came right up to the precipice of tumbling down into anarchy, and barely chose to not cascade down the cliff.
My great unease was only magnified with the knowledge that just recently our country walked right up to another precipice of survival, this time in an economic environment. After a year of roiling turmoil in the financial markets from the real estate bubble the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bernanke, became the great Socialist of our time in utter desperation, backing up the markets with the Federal Reserve, no questions or collateral asked. Had he not done so, it is said, and the Second Great Depression would be engulfing us this very second.
Systems theory dictates that for complete failure naturally many sub-systems must fail; when one part or sub-system performs poorly or stops functioning altogether other systems will compensate and degrade, but as a whole the system still performs, just a lot more poorly. Had Hilzoy’s nightmare come true, what kind of country is left without a Judicial Branch as part of the American system? Not one anyone would call a Democracy, certainly, sort of a vanilla American fascism, one would guess, other parts of the country simply unable to compensate for a useless system of Law.
A country that claims Democracy must have many functioning systems and paths to trudge, one of which is a methodology for accurately counting votes that accurately results in the will of the people. Obvious and simple to do, yet, but still absolutely vital. Longtime readers know it’s my opinion that America walked up to another precipice of Democracy, this time counting votes in Election 2000, and deliberately threw ourselves down the cliff for a series of successive face-smashes we’re still going through.
We went to Off in 2000, we’re not in a Democracy anymore. Know it or be in denial.
Some would state the rejection of the Military Commissions Act Thursday as a necessary adjustment of the system to sub-system failure. On a dark day like yesterday I’m much more apt to see it as a process of the system breaking down, a sick sputter and clank of slow morbidity. Heinous, atrocious acts have already been committed against innocent “detainees,” Bush and Cheney still lead us blathering about the Chinese drilling for oil off Cuba and attacking Iran, while all the while the Nazgul of the Republican Party cackle and hiss at the Supreme Court, furious that their authoritarianism is barely denied, their Blue Dog allies planning furtive telecom amnesty in Congress.
Yet for all my fiery proclamations of a stolen election and Democracy Lost I cannot be totally, completely sure that this is in fact what has happened, of course not. Systems theory states that Election 2006 is a natural response to a one-time failure of 2000 that we will see greatly magnified in 2008. Naturally it’s my great hope to see the Democracy survive and thrive, so perhaps I’m projecting what I want to happen, but that scenario has to be one of a robust, functioning Democracy.
But still, two such looming canyons of disaster so closely missed into tumbles of anarchy in the last four months in such core central systems, Finance and Justice, that simply is a very ominous sign. Will America continue to barely avert disaster in a succession of reeling failures from Bush to eventually recover with President Obama as Executive, or will we tumble down some other systems cliff of disaster, just the inevitable result of Bush vs. Gore thieves who started all this Bush insanity?
Is there ever really a way to know when a Democracy truly fails and stops? There are many ways to possibly answer that question, but it’s absolutely certain that John McCain knows perfectly well how to show us.