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Saturday, July 20 2024 @ 06:47 MDT

Is the United States turning into 1930\'s Germany?

US PoliticsI like trains. The reason I bring this up is that the precipitating event that caused me to put finger to keyboard in this instance was the editorial article in a copy of Trains Magazine. Now Trains Magazine is aimed at people who like railroads and railroading, railfanning as it\'s called here in North America. What railfans do is seek out places were trains congregate (easy to find, since the trains leave their tracks behind) and watch the trains go by or take pictures of the trains as they go by.

The editorial was mentioning an incident where local law enforcement in the United States was accosting some railfans who were standing on public property, taking photographs of trains. The police accused them of terrorist activities. When the railfans complained that they (the railfans) were merely engaging in their constitutional rights, the police responded that “new legislation has superseded the constitution”. Now I was lead to believe whilst earning a degree in political science, that a nation\'s constitution was the highest law in the land. Short of changes to that document through long and often cumbersome processes, mere legislation can\'t supersede a constitution. Apparently the Republicans in the US have decided that they\'re now going to ignore their own constitution and create laws that violate it. So much for the rule of law.

It makes you wonder if there\'s going to be another presidential election in the US, or if the Republican dominated Congress will give Dubya “special emergency powers” that allow him to remain in office till the “terrorist emergency” is over. After all, it\'s a lot easier to stay in office if you don\'t bother with elections at all, easier than rigging them at the very least. Add to the difficulty the fact that Dubya\'s used up his two terms and the Republicans need to either find a successor who is also able to be a ventriloquist dummy for the powers that be and be palatable to the American people, or find a way to keep George in office through “emergency powers” legislation.

There are few countries where emergency power legislation, once implemented, return quickly to democracy. I\'m not convinced that the US would be an exception to this, especially given the current leadership in the US government. Generally, such legislation is used by regimes that are in imminent danger of losing power. An outside (or inside) threat is created by the regime to justify the imposition of emergency powers. This is followed by the erosion of civil liberties so that the government can “deal with the threat”. As people slowly get used to less and less freedom, those in power then stage some event that will “force” them to finally impose the emergency powers, for the benefit of the people of course, by eliminating the last vestiges of civil liberties. Police and the military are given extraordinary powers of arrest and search. The rule of law is thrown out the window in the name of “preserving law and order”. People who oppose the regime, even the peaceful opposition we take for granted in a democracy, start being rounded up and charged with treason, or simply disappear entirely.

The beginnings of this are apparently starting to show up in our neighbours to the south. The attitudes of those in power are now being reflected in the law enforcement agencies they control, civil liberties are being eroded. One could argue at this point, in the US, the terrorists have already won.

What I find truly scary about all this is that I\'m not unconvinced that the political right in this country wouldn\'t also like to do the same thing here. The political right complains that the constitution prevents them from “doing what the majority wants”, showing they completely miss the point of a constitution, and the rule of law. It\'s a “we had to destroy the village to save it” mentality that is frightening and hopefully most Canadians will continue to find it frightening. Unfortunately, these attitudes are entrenched in Alberta, though it is heartening to see the frustration of these ideas as they don\'t seem to be catching on in the rest of Canada, and with luck they never will.

It does leave the scary thought that the world\'s most militarily strong nation, the US, is slowly sliding down the road to martial law and totalitarian, despotic rule. Look at the damage Germany did in the 1930\'s and 1940\'s when they slid down that road. Now imagine a nation 10 times more powerful and with nuclear weapons sliding down that same road. We are entering dangerous times indeed.
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Is the United States turning into 1930's Germany?
Authored by: Anonymous onFriday, August 05 2005 @ 01:33 MDT
They started on that path with the so-called "Patriot Act". Although "Patriot II" officially died, little pieces of it have been enacted 'piecemeal'.

Civil rights in the US are a seriously endangered species...

- Grog

Is the United States turning into 1930's Germany?
Authored by: Anonymous onFriday, August 05 2005 @ 04:29 MDT
I've been feeling this same thing for a while now. You put it more eloquently than I would have, but I agree with you just the same. Now the question is, "What can we do about it?"