The end of US democracy?


Haggis McBagpipe
#1
Do you think the potential exists for democracy to end as a result of another large-scale attack on US soil? Would the US Constitution, as has been suggested by many, be shelved?
 
researchok
#2
Good questions.

Firstly, there is no real will for anything other than democracy here (save fringe elemenst on left or right), attack or no attack.

Secondly, the constitution wouldnt be suspended- it would be the Bill of Rights-- a VERY important distinction. Though intertwined in many ways, they are mutually exclusive.
 
crash
#3
Well, there's always unfortunately a battle between security and individual rights.

I would be really surprised to see a situation where American's rights were completely suspended, across the nation. Though I feel a day is coming soon where we see a situation like we did in Quebec with the war measures act.

The constitution of the United States is too strong for a simple terrorist attack to destroy it IMHO. I am no expert in the United States but I don't believe, even in times of total war on their own soil has the president been handed unilateral power and I doubt it would happen now.
 
American Voice
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by Haggis McBagpipe

Do you think the potential exists for democracy to end as a result of another large-scale attack on US soil? Would the US Constitution, as has been suggested by many, be shelved?

You don't specify the nature of the attack, but I am assuming you mean a terrorist attack. I am anticipating, perhaps, suicide bombers in New York during the Republican Convention. While it would be a horror, the consequences for democracy would be a strengthening of it, as people closed ranks.

The largest attack against the United Stated occurred in Maryland, in September of 1862. Lee's Maryland campaign. I am proud to say my great grandfather was there with his regiment, who drew first blood at South Mountain, and distinguished themselves on the field two days later, at Antietam. I have been researching his biography for several years. He kept a war diary, the original of which, as well as a typewritten transcription, are kept at the Hayes Presidential Center, up in Fremont. This reminds me, I need to make an appointment to go up and see it. A newspaperman and attorney by vocation and trade, I don't doubt but that he recorded his views on your very question, Haggis.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#5
Americans, although they loudly proclaim a love of freedom and the 'American Way of Life', seem quite willing to strip away freedom when it suits a political agenda. Americans say they believe in democracy, but do they understand what it is?

Have Americans lost sight of what it is to be free? Easy to offer platitudes about freedom, but don't you have to understand the concept of true democracy to embrace and protect it?
 
American Voice
#6
I think the essential point about democracy is that it is an organic phenomenon. It will occur spontaneously among people of good sense and good will. That may sound naive, but democracy is of the natural order of things, and thrives where not suppressed.

Haggis, have you ever seen James Madison's essay, No. 10, among The Federalist Papers? I highly recommend it as essential reading, for an understanding of politics and democracy. In my opinion, Madison deserves the tallest monument in DC, but has none there at all.
 
researchok
#7
I dont think terror is an agenda.

On 9/10, 2001, this wasnt even on the radar.

Democratic countries define themselves at the ballot box-- for example, there are hard core socialist democracies and every variety between that and pure market society. One variety over another is what works for that society-- no more, no less.

As long as there is access to the ballot box, democracies will continue to define themselves.

Freedom comes in all flavours.
 
Reverend Blair
#8
Tommy Franks, in an interview with Cigar Afficiando magazine, did mention the possibility of suspending the US elections if there was another terrorist attack though. To me it sounded like he was sending up a trial balloon...testing the waters. I never heard a huge negative outcry from the American people and the story was never picked up by a major press outlet.

The Patriot Act was pushed through without too much opposition at all, and it is very much a rights-raping piece of crap that should have incited the American people to try its authors for treason and vicious stupidity.

I really don't have a lot of hope for American democracy in its present form. I think the leaders of the US more and more come from an elite class of people (look at the presidential candidates) and understand what democracy is really all about less and less.

If reforms, big ones, aren't made very soon I fear that the USA may lose its democracy all together.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by Reverend Blair

t should have incited the American people to try its authors for treason and vicious stupidity.

And this is precisely what worries me. Instead of being enraged at these freedom-thieves, Americans are instead enraged at the so-called 'anti-American' rhetoric of those who do oppose it. Americans are being sold on something that is wrong, and in the name of fear, they are turning off the critical thinking and turning on the patriotic fervour.
 
American Voice
#10
Oh, fuddleduds! You Canadians, far from being like vichysoisses, are so easily stirred up. The Department of Homeland Security is nothing more than a grandiose pork-barrel scheme. The Patriot Act is a concern, but I don't lay awake at night worrying.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by American Voice

Oh, fuddleduds! You Canadians, far from being like vichysoisses, are so easily stirred up. The Department of Homeland Security is nothing more than a grandiose pork-barrel scheme. The Patriot Act is a concern, but I don't lay awake at night worrying.

Well, maybe you should. Maybe Canadians are the real defenders of feedom, not Americans, since we do worry about the loss of it.
 
American Voice
#12
I hate the word freedom. I prefer the word liberty.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by American Voice

I hate the word freedom. I prefer the word liberty.

Why?
 
American Voice
#14
Liberty is guarunteed by authority. Freedom is all to often a ploy that plays upon an ignorant aversion to authority, used to deny liberty, and to furtively promote racketeering as compensation. Speeches at the Republican convention are always peppered with the word freedom. At the Democratic convention, the speeches are salted with the word liberty.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#15
Thank you for the clarification. I do see what you mean now. I like it.
 
crash
#16
The difference between freedom and liberty are semantical by definition.

Surely, anyone who knows what the patriot act includes is opposed to it and is rightfully so.

To say as if that this means that the degradation of American democracy is imminent is foolish.

Americans have inalienable rights to democracy regardless of the patriot act or any other act that can be passed by democracy and or the president.

The mere fact that we are having a debate on who will be the next president of the United States (one party of which is naturally very opposed to the patroit act) should speak of the durability of American democracy.

Perhaps we might be able to dig up some type of formula that proves American presidential candidates are becoming increasingly and relatively more wealthy than in the past. However, I would say that American presidential candidates are as detatched from the general public as they have been for the indefinate past.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by crash

To say as if that this means that the degradation of American democracy is imminent is foolish.

Americans have inalienable rights to democracy regardless of the patriot act or any other act that can be passed by democracy and or the president.

The mere fact that we are having a debate on who will be the next president of the United States (one party of which is naturally very opposed to the patroit act) should speak of the durability of American democracy.

Crash, why do you assume there will be an election?

Why do you think those rights to democracy cannot be snatched away in a state of martial law? And maybe accidentally forgotten to be returned?

If Americans don't believe they can lose their freedom, they will.
 
American Voice
#18
Haggis, calm down.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by American Voice

Haggis, calm down.

Calm down? What an incredibly stupid thing to say.
 
American Voice
#20
You are clealy overreacting, that's all. I meant no disrespect. The threats to American democracy are internal, yes, but they are also local. Organized crime and the subversion of law enforcement, predicated upon the curruption of civil authority, as well as the subversion of the courts, these are the threat. We must be vigilant locally to protect liberty collectively. You ought to read that essay by Madison, he provides a brilliant insight into this very issue. It's all about competing interests. He had a Ghandi-esque insight into human nature, Madison did. I can give you a couple of titles, if you like.

Please, don't ever suppose that I have anything less than respect for you and your point of view. It hurts me when you doubt it.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by American Voice

Please, don't ever suppose that I have anything less than respect for you and your point of view. It hurts me when you doubt it.

It isn't that I doubt your respect for me - a remark like 'haggis, calm yourself' simply causes me to question my respect for you.

My concerns are shared by an ever-growing segment of the American population, and no, not just hard-left thinkers and conspiracy theorists. To dismiss the danger of erosion of freedoms is in itself dangerous.

Interesting that Americans will fall to the ground frothing at the mouth about the dangers of lost freedom at the merest suggestion that gun control would be a good thing, or that socialized medicine would help countless Americans regain some normalcy in their lives. if only these same patriotically blinded Americans had the same open eyes when it comes to what Generalissimo Busho and his henchmen are doing to civil liberties.
 
crash
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by Haggis McBagpipe


Crash, why do you assume there will be an election?

Why do you think those rights to democracy cannot be snatched away in a state of martial law? And maybe accidentally forgotten to be returned?

If Americans don't believe they can lose their freedom, they will.

Well we cannot be 100% sure that there will be an election that is for sure. If you remember FDR spent 12 consecutive years in the white house leading up to WWII. Its not unheard of for democratic mechanisms to be put on hold during tough times (which would be needed to cancel this election).

As I mentioned in my prior post, even if this where the case and the president had to spend a long term in office (rare) there still is a separation of powers that is very iron clad in the United States. Not even in a time of war has a president of the United States enjoyed the same power over his country as the Prime Minister of a Westminster parliament under normal circumstances. There could be some day that the bill of rights is suspended in a certain location at a given time but as we have seen in a place like Canada where a weaker form of democracy is practised, it still did not mean the end.

I would be far more concerned about the limited Canadian democracy enduring.
 
American Voice
#23
The late Tip O'Neill, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, once made the comment that "all politics is local." You must be careful not to exaggerate the significance of extremists and their views, which invariably focus on remote issues such as foreign policy and "national" politics. The more remote the matter, the more ardent their uninformed opinions will be.

My niece's husband is a perfect example. He's a fundamentalist conservative with a permanent Reagan fixation. He has opinions which he is incapable of even discussing. He just takes positions, and then dares you to elicit a rational defense of them, as if they were self-evident and absolute truths. Because I know him, and understand something about his background, I understand that what it is symptomatic of a psychiatric disorder he has, I suspect as a consequence of his having been beaten and raped by his mean drunk of a father, who is a crooked policeman. I feel sorry for my niece and their two kids, but I can't say I feel sorry for him. But I take his dittohead conservatism for what it is, and simply avoid conversation on anything other than trivialities. People of that sort, if you do not object to their views, assume that you agree with them. Ergo, they condition people to deceive them in systematic ways. Anyway, I know about the right, and the left tend to the same. I call it a symmetry of the margins. They marginalize themselves at both ends, and are irrelevant to policy.
 
vista
#24
Reverend I agree with your comments.

Quote:

I really don't have a lot of hope for American democracy in its present form. I think the leaders of the US more and more come from an elite class of people (look at the presidential candidates) and understand what democracy is really all about less and less.

Yet I would comment that it isn't so much this elite class understand less of democracy. What is important to them is to impart the illusion of democracy on the rest-of-us.

And as Franks commented in his interview, the democracy thing is just a recent experiment that in the end - won't work.
 
Reverend Blair
#25
They seem less likely to worry about even maintaining the illusion now though. The Patriot Act is a good example of that...it takes away rights, but was passed into law because the White House said it had to be. The alleged checks and balances voted for it because they were told that not to vote for it would be unAmerican.

The last presidential election is another example. There were so many questions and issues surrounding the election, George Bush was made president with less than 50% of the vote, and that appointment was made by a bunch of judges his father put in power.

Money is the other big thing. It's impossible to even realistically seek nomination without a huge war chest. That leaves candidates open to being influenced by campaign contributors.

There are many other examples, but those are the big ones.
 
crash
#26
Quote: Originally Posted by Reverend Blair

They seem less likely to worry about even maintaining the illusion now though. The Patriot Act is a good example of that...it takes away rights, but was passed into law because the White House said it had to be. The alleged checks and balances voted for it because they were told that not to vote for it would be unAmerican.

Firstly, the difference between the elimination of American democracy/destroying the constitution and passing a law that resitricts rights are two completely separate matters. The patriot act if deemed against the bill of rights can easily be struck down by a legal challenge.

On top of this, hindsight, and constituants opinions are 20/20. The democratic party is overwealmingly against the patriot act now and if Kerry becomes president he will no doubt, with his Congress partners do all he can to kill or modify it. This is the beauty of democracy.

This is why even if a drastic situation happens (and they have in the past all over the western world) and rights are temporarily restricted or completely suspended, the durability of democracy reigns supreme. Especially in a state with the checks and balances in place like the United States. Like I say, I am far more concerned about the state of Canadian democracy and its durability than the United States.

Quote:

The last presidential election is another example. There were so many questions and issues surrounding the election, George Bush was made president with less than 50% of the vote, and that appointment was made by a bunch of judges his father put in power.

No doubt, for the second time in the history of the american electoral college the system has "failed". Still, lets not get too out of hand with proclaimations about how this all came about. Yes the decision in Florida is shady, but realistically in such a close case, legitimacy was going to be challenged. The riding system in Canada and the electoral college in the US exist for good reason. They are a way of weighing regional concerns in a somewhat fair way.

GWB got lucky that it went down the way it did, but what where the chances that his brother would be governor of the contraversial state? Furthermore, can we gaurentee the result would have been different had this not been the case?


Quote:

Money is the other big thing. It's impossible to even realistically seek nomination without a huge war chest. That leaves candidates open to being influenced by campaign contributors.

There are many other examples, but those are the big ones.

Right, a phenomenon across the western world. Look at Paul Martin, he sent a nice cardboard flyer directly to every person in my province, truth be told maybe even country, above and beyond advertsing done by my local liberal candidate. Do you know how much that costs?

There's no easy answer, on whether we exclusively use taxpayer money to fund the campaign of the oftentimes already wealthy on their self serving ambitions.

This clearly helps the weaker parties who have no chance of getting funding, yet will it mean any significant improvement to Canadian democracy? Will results of the future be dramatically differerent as a result? I don't think so.

Or do we have no regulations? Clearly this is elitist and flies in the face of democracy.

I think the answer lies somewhere in between...
 
Spock
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by Reverend Blair

The last presidential election is another example. There were so many questions and issues surrounding the election, George Bush was made president with less than 50% of the vote,

So was Bill Clinton -- twice.

Quote: Originally Posted by Reverend Blair

and that appointment was made by a bunch of judges his father put in power.

George H.W. Bush appointed two of the nine Supreme Court justices, only one of whom voted to end the recounts.
 
Reverend Blair
#28
Quote:

So was Bill Clinton -- twice.

Not sure where you get your facts, but Bill had more than half the vote both times he ran. Or are you counting the people who never showed up to vote?

Quote:

George H.W. Bush appointed two of the nine Supreme Court justices, only one of whom voted to end the recounts.

How many were appointed by Reagan when Big George was VP?
 
vista
#29
The neo-cons have a large grounding in Machiavelli and here is how the PATRIOT Act plays out to democracy.

With the fear factor the government can exploit it for acceptance for restrictions of civil rights and to provide public support for their political agenda.

And the darkest Machiavellian aspect: The population hopes these restrictions will bring more personal security.

Ahhh... the illusion of democracy. Are we dupes or what?

Here is some of the neo-con thinking as artfully written in an essay by Congressman Ron Paul...

Influential neo-conservative, Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute

July 10, 2003 - “It’s true that we can achieve greatness if, and only if, we are properly led.” In other words, man is so depraved that individuals are incapable of moral, ethical and spiritual greatness, and achieving excellence and virtue can only come from a powerful authoritarian leader. What depraved ideas are these to now be influencing our leaders in Washington? The question Ledeen doesn’t answer is: “Why do the political leaders not suffer from the same shortcomings and where do they obtain their monopoly on wisdom?”

Once this trust is placed in the hands of a powerful leader, this neocon argues that certain tools are permissible to use. For instance: “Lying is central to the survival of nations and to the success of great enterprises, because if our enemies can count on the reliability of everything you say, your vulnerability is enormously increased.”

What about the effects of lying on one’s own people? Who cares if a leader can fool the enemy? Does calling it “strategic deception” make lying morally justifiable? Ledeen and Machiavelli argue that it does, as long as the survivability of the state is at stake.

Preserving the state is their goal, even if the personal liberty of all individuals has to be suspended or cancelled.

 
venomous1
#30
Hate to burst the bubble but American is not a Democracy....It is a republic... e.g. (Republic of China) Your government can wipe out the Constitution at its own convenience.
 

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