n the waning days of 2005, a number of Beltway developments have pointed to 2006 as a pivotal year in the future -- if there is to be any -- of American democracy.
The most far-reaching of these has been the Bush administration's aggressive advocacy of its once-secret program of NSA spying on American citizens. No lawyer outside a small clique of Bush appointees has seriously defended the NSA program, already renewed 30 times by Bush, as legal. Indeed, the only way that it can possibly not be construed as a blatant, ongoing violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (note the key word: Foreign) is if the President has the authority, as Commander-in-Chief, to suspend or override any law. And this is precisely the claim George Bush is making.
But these are symptoms. The disease is the escalating inability of American democracy to follow the Constitution and to respect the rights and honor the participation of ordinary American citizens. The disease is a political process that cannot solve serious problems because it is wholly owned by enormous corporate and political interests, with power concentrated in a relative handful of men (and occasionally women) who owe their power to those interests -- plus, at the top, a lying, murderous president who is claiming the right to break any law.
The only solution is a clean sweep. Congress must reject Samuel Alito, and Congress, if it is (in the words the Bush White House once reserved for the U.N.) "to remain relevant," must impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney. In both cases, citizen outrage will be required to force a corrupt and reluctant Congress to act. And in November, citizens must use the leverage our once-relevant Constitution gives us, and we must sweep the whole rotten Congressional carcass from office -- conclusively enough that no Republican dirty tricks or Diebold-style tampering can alter the results. Regardless of party, we must replace lawmakers, at the local, state, and especially federal level, with candidates who are truly responsive and accountable to the ordinary people who elect them.
It's either that, or by 2007 we will be living in a de facto dictatorship. It's our choice.
Everything else we like to get up on our soapbox about pales in comparison to Bush and his criminal cabal highjacking our Constitution, and the liberty granted to us by it, and turning our country into the Fourth Reich. I am barely able to stop short of calling for armed rebellion.