Lazy Electorate Allows Political Autocracy to Take Control


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“Nothing better symbolizes a people’s integrity– or their lack of it– than their political system. Though there are variations in each, the systems are either democratic or autocratic. The latter sometimes briefly can be salvaged by a benevolent despot. The former can be destroyed by an electorate that tires of its responsibilities, encouraging autocratic tendencies….”

Author: George Beres with Keep Money Out of Campaigns
Published in: The Oregon Herald in Portland, Oregon
Date: January 10, 2008

Read the full article:
Lazy Electorate Allows Political Autocracy to Take Control
(668 words)
by George Beres

Nothing better symbolizes a people’s integrity– or their lack of it– than their political system. Though there are variations in each, the systems are either democratic or autocratic. The latter sometimes briefly can be salvaged by a benevolent despot. The former can be destroyed by an electorate that tires of its responsibilities, encouraging autocratic tendencies.

Such a change threatens to make Americans captive to a ruler or ruling party that maintains power by destroying constitutional law intended to protect the democratic way. We see that today in unlawful actions by a Republican administration that has captured the last two presidential terms to tighten the partisan noose that strangles democracy. Adding to the despair of those who recognize a steady loss of civil liberties is failure of the Democratic Party to fight, instead making of itself a clone of Republican despotism.

As we devolve into a one-party system, it can be instructive to understand our current illness by reviewing identities of Republican holders of the presidency and vice-presidency over the past four decades. It is startling to see how five GOP presidents– covering seven terms since 1968– have collaborated to destroy democracy.

Their destructive unity could not be planned beforehand. It came instead through a unity in autocratic philosophy which gave primacy to corporate wealth, allowing it dominance over the middle class and the poor. That control was prescribed by an elections system that places candidates of both parties on the auction block to be bought by the wealthy.
These GOP presidents and their potential successors, who waited in the wings of the vice-presidency, have produced a prescription for national and global disaster. Little more is needed than their names and a list of the major follies that forever will tarnish these presidents:

* 1968 – Richard Nixon, whose Watergate conspiracy caused him to choose to resign rather than be removed from office by impeachment. His vice-president, Spiro Agnew, was impeached and replaced by Gerald Ford.
* 1973 – Gerald Ford, who inherited the presidency when Nixon was removed. He then trashed justice and the public by stooping to give Nixon a not-so-presidential pardon.
* 1980 – Ronald Reagan, whose Iran/Contra scandal that is disappearing from public memory encourages our current president to assume he has similar immunity for parallel criminality in the Middle East. Other destructive Reagan policies have perpetuated harmful domestic actions by the second Bush as he, like Reagan, has given the corporate sector dominance over the environment while diminishing aid to the needy.
* 1988 – The elder George Bush’s role in charge of the CIA elevated him to vice-president under Reagan, whom he succeeded. The abiding symbol of his single term was his choice of running mate that defied comprehension: Dan Quayle, whose lack of ability and understanding said to American voters: “We are the GOP, and we know we can nominate anyone we want, and still win.” And they did.
* 2000 – George Bush the younger was appointed by the Supreme Court after disputed vote tallies in Florida, where his brother, Jeb, was governor. Vice-president for both of his disputed terms in office has been Dick Cheney, whose control of major decision-making has been notorious. Cynics have rightly portrayed him as the ventriloquist holding on his knee a president who mindlessly mouths his words and implements his policies.

As an Independent, I recognize that the only primary candidate for either party who has relevance is Dennis Kucinich. None of the others has a persona that can be trusted. To be elected, Kucinich must leave the party and head an Independent ticket.

Nothing can cure the terminal illness of American politics other than complete election campaign finance reform. It must allow no private or personal donations because major gifts are the means for wholesale bribery that allows a small group of donors to dictate policies.

Incumbent legislators must have selfless motivation to initiate and achieve that reform. Since that requires a measure of courage and self-respect, there will have to be another way.

George Beres is co-founder with the late David Darland of KMOC, Keep Money Out of Campaigns, in Eugene, Oregon.