This year we endured contentious fiscal cliff white noise muting our celebratory New Years Rose Parade and Bowl games as we launched into another year of liberty in America.
We now live in a country where the 24/7 courtier press pretends to criticize the partisan performances of Congress while practicing flattery. Worse, ignoring their constitutional purpose, the press this year paid little attention to the naked sell out of our civil liberties—part of our Bill of Rights for two centuries.
It isn’t difficult to imagine what the reactions of Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison would have been to codifying a secret court and issuing secret warrants which is what Congress reauthorized in the FISA Amendments this past week—save for later their insistence that American citizens be subjected to indefinite detentions under the National Defense Authorization Act.
The vision of self determination held by our Founders was imaginative and creative. They saw liberty as special—not Americans—and trusted us to cherish that liberty. Never could they have foreseen how cavalier, naïve—not to mention lazy—would be our thinking that American democracy is somehow eternal and capable of withstanding the corruptibility of money in politics.
America has become a country where our institutions are intact but function weakly. Now days citizens in theory have the right to dissent—some do mutedly—but many of the 99% have become afraid to robustly exercise this right fearing that their true expression might cost them their jobs. Employers now claim the right to endorse candidates with brazen innuendos of consequences for those employees not falling in line.
The Founders understood the need for vigilance against tyranny. What they did not see, fear or ever expect, was for Americans to get lazy and fall asleep. They saw all people as corruptible and only as reliable as their character. They knew that democracy required eternal rededication and never expected citizens to delegate their liberty to a professional class as one might do with an accountant or a lawyer.
Our Founders set out to prove that ordinary people could be entrusted to govern themselves in a state where no one could arbitrarily arrested them, lock them up and torture them. What would their reactions have been to the domestic spying and totalitarian crackdowns of the Occupy movement by local police aided by the FBI in Oakland, New York and other cities around the country? What would they’ve said about the intentionally chilling paramilitary presence in Chicago during the NATO Summit?
There is an incremental process in the unmaking of freedom where changes are made as routine and the horrors appear elsewhere. Examples abound where a shift toward fascism goes on for several years, while basic institutions of freedom are corrupted and rights are eroding, all the while daily life is very normal, for many even pleasant.
The fiscal cliff that loomed over this New Year as portrayed by the media was a hard fought Congressional battle that in the end, yielded billions of dollars in corporate tax giveaways while slashing take-home pay for millions of Americans. The deal struck was less than kind to the middle class as Congress permitted a cut in payroll tax to expire, meaning that the tax burden for the average worker will increase about $1,000 in 2013.
Their yearend package underscores the lobbying power of Wall Street financial firms and some of the nation’s largest corporations who were able to get what they want even when everyone else is starving.
Today, America sustains another kind of culture, one that seeks to secure a permanent majority status of far smaller groups driven by motives of power and money unthreatened by the will of the people.
The door to darkness in America has been opened and while the pendulum still exists, the will of the People cannot move it more than slightly. We must roll back the laws that are associated with opening this door. In short, that means taking money out of politics and publicly funded elections.