Damn Fine Essay from DDay on "Conservatism"
This goes to the other side of how this nation is changing radically - with a series of programs conceived largely by executive fiat that weakens civil liberties protections and subverts the plain letter of the law. This includes illegal wiretapping of American citizens, indefinite detention of prisoners without charges, and the dehumanizing practice of torture, which is ineffective and deeply dangerous to the lives of our troops, as this senior interrogator in Iraq explains.
In fact, what anyone who has been paying attention must conclude is that this has become a deeply radical nation, from deregulation to privatization to the dismissal of the rule of law, and the key project for the next President is to rein in the radicalism and return us to the, yes, conservative principles that are supposed to govern. Russ Feingold ably explains the need from the standpoint of the rule of law and the Constitution in this interview. But it can be expanded to the de-fanging of federal agencies and the transfer of government wealth to corporate bank accounts.
Any restraint and respect for the structure of government from the radical right only kicks in when they're out of power, when they have to use the means at their disposal to block the reversal of their extreme policies. If the Obama Administration plays the game inside the lines, if "going through the federal government line by line" means cutting services that are purported to not work instead of getting the government back from corporate takeover; if "reviewing every executive order" means trying to maintain extreme executive power by promising to carry it out competently instead of abolishing anything that subverts the rule of law; then there will be no return to the traditional values that have made America a lasting democracy.
Obama has promised to govern from what was once called the "center-right." Sadly, a lot of people who at least think of themselves as liberals and progressives are unwilling or unable to perceive this. But I have little hope that the Obama administration will be extremely different than the previous one. Less ridiculous, less blatant, sure. But my focus is policy, and so far, it seems rather clear that Obama is mostly interested in being the more moderate type of "leader" whose primary mission is to make sure no large corporations or rich people are held accountable or suffer.
In that spirit, I'm bookmarking DDay's essay, because by around 2010, I think it will be a useful reminder to all those who are so convinced right now that our next president is a radical leftist who will deliver them from depression, agressive war, and horrors like torture and government spying.