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October 15, 2003

Where are we headed

Another political–of sorts–entry, please forgive me, but I feel I must say something.

I am growing more and more troubled by events here at home, events and policies of the government and various parties.

I have a big problem with voices of dissent being hushed with choruses of “unpatriotic” or “traitor”, especially when many of those raising the chorus are our leaders who, one would hope, have studied the political history of this nation to see that dissent and debate are key elements of it’s success as a democratic republic. Democracy is a difficult proposition at best. The needs of so many, often disparate, groups of people need to be meshed into one, hopefully universally just, system of laws and policies. Add to the internal issues the policies that should be adopted externally to both protect our own citizens, aid our allies, and put forward a good example of modern democracy and it is a tribute to any modern democracy that anything gets accomplished.

Discussion and debate are necessary for this to happen, those in power must realize and accept that not everyone will agree with their policy, even if the majority have agreed that it is the best course. Those who do not agree, have every right to peacefully voice their opinion. In fact it could even be said that their speaking their opinion is a duty to ensuring a lasting democracy. It is vital that those who actively voice their dissent from the national policy must do so with responsibility–they must rest their arguments on facts and opinions based on fact rather than cite wild allegations. They should criticize laws and policies, not those charged with carrying out the laws and policies of the state as part (or all) of their job. On both sides of this issue there has been growing abuse. Too many, or at least the most vocal and reported, demonstrations have been attacking not only policy but those charged with carrying out the policy of the US abroad. Simultaneously however there has been a seeming shift in the attitude of high level administration officials that makes them accuse any who disagree publicly with policy as ?unpatriotic.?

One issue in particular that continues to disturb me, especially with the background I have and that of members of my family, is the relative lack of action on the ?Plame affair.? I do not know the answers or all of the particulars, but it seems indisputable that high level administration officials leaked information that, if true, would be a major violation of law. (I won’t even venture into the realm of possible damage’s to national security and national resources.) Why has nothing happened? Why did it take almost 3 months for the story to break in the general media? What happened to the promise of returning honor to the White House?

Then there are stories of privacy violations and immigration issues, granted they may be isolated in the news, but they appear to be all too real and frequent. If this story is true, it is extremely upsetting.

These are not the actions and policies of the nation whose ideals I could easily defend and serve as a member of the armed forces. I only hope that it can quickly recover, and the best way of ensuring it’s recovery is working within the system—voting, peaceful smart dissension, discussion and debate. I am beginning to believe that no matter my personal political beliefs towards one party or another, it is time to change regimes. Not that the current regime has necessarily done things wrong—that is a different debate—but because the climate against dissent, debate and discussion is very disturbing and in my opinion more of a threat to democracy than anything else currently arrayed against it.

Margaret Chase said it over 50 years ago in her “ Declaration of Conscience” to her colleagues in the Senate:

Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all to frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism –

The right to criticize;

The right to hold unpopular beliefs;

The right to protest;

The right of independent thought.

The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to know some one who holds unpopular beliefs. Who of us doesn’t? Otherwise none of us could call our souls our own. Otherwise thought control would have set in.

Just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago, perhaps even more so.

Posted by Eric at October 15, 2003 04:48 PM | TrackBack
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