Twenty Years Of Dictatorial Democracy

pax-americana

James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush Betrayal, Terrorism and Tyranny, and other books. Bovard is on the USA Today Board of Contributors

The presidential campaign has mortified millions of Americans in part because the presidency has become far more dangerous in recent times.  Since 9/11, we have lived in a perpetual emergency which supposedly justifies trampling the law and Constitution.  And the illegalities will not end after Tuesday’s vote count.  Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have signaled that they will perpetuate power grabs in the next four years.

For generations, politicians have touted voting as a magical process which almost automatically  protects the rights of everyone within a 50 mile radius of the polling booth. But the ballots Americans have cast in presidential elections since 2000 did nothing to constrain the commander-in-chief.

Bush’s declaration in 2000 that America needed a more “humble” foreign policy did not deter him from vowing to “rid the world of evil” and launching the most catastrophic war in modern American history. Eight years later, Barack Obama campaigned as the candidate of peace and promised “a new birth of freedom.” But that did not stop him from bombing seven nations, claiming a right to assassinate American ciizens, and championing Orwellian total surveillance.

Bush was famous for “signing statements” decrees that nullified hundreds of provisions of laws enacted by Congress. Obama is renown for unilaterally endlessly rewriting laws such as the Affordable Care Act to postpone political backlashes against the Democratic Party and for effectively waiving federal immigration law. Both Bush and Obama exploited the “state secrets doctrine” to shield their most controversial policies from the American public.

While many conservatives applauded Bush’s power grabs, many liberals cheered Obama’s decrees. After 16 years of Bush-Obama, the federal government is far more arbitrary and lethal. Richard Nixon’s maxim – ‘it’s not illegal if the president does it’ – is the lodestar for commanders-in-chief in the new century.

There is no reason to expect the next president to be less power hungry than the last two White House occupants. Both Trump and Clinton can be expected to trample the First Amendment. Trump has talked of shutting down mosques and changing libel laws to make it far more perilous for the media to reveal abuses by the nation’s elite. Clinton was in the forefront of an administration that broke all records for prosecuting leakers and journalists who exposed government abuses. She could smash the remnants of the Freedom of Information Act like her aides hammered her Blackberry phones to obliterate her email trail.

Neither candidate seems to recognize any limit on presidential power. Trump calls for reviving the torture that profoundly disgraced the United States during the George W. Bush era. Clinton opposes torture but  believes presidents have a right to launch wars whenever they decide it is in the national interest. After Clinton helped persuade Obama to bomb Libya in 2011, she signaled that the administration would scorn any congressional cease-and-desist order under the War Powers Act.  She continues to tout the bombing of Libya as “smart power at its best.”

If Americans could be confident that either Trump or Clinton would be leashed by the law, there would be less dread about who wins on Tuesday. But elections are becoming simply coronations via vote counts. The president will take an oath of office on Inaugural Day but then can do as he or she damn well pleases.

We now have a political system which is nominally democratic but increasingly authoritarian. The proliferation of despotic precedents in the past 15 years would have horrified America’s Founding Fathers. The Rule of Law has been defined down to finding a single federal lawyer to write a secret memo vindicating the president’s latest unpublished executive order.  And Washington has never had a shortage of weasely lawyers.

By the end of the next presidential term, America will have had almost a 20-year stretch of dictatorial democracy.  Washington’s disdain for the highest law of the land is torpedoing the citizenry’s faith in representative government. Forty percent of registered voters have “lost faith in American democracy,” according to recent  Survey Monkey poll.

The United States may be on the verge of the biggest legitimacy crisis since the Civil War. Whoever wins in November will be profoundly distrusted even before being sworn in.  The combination of a widely-detested new president and unrestrained power almost guarantees greater crises in the coming years.

Neither Trump nor Clinton are promising to “make America constitutional again.” But, as Thomas Jefferson declared in 1786, “an elective despotism was not the government we fought for.” If presidents are lawless, then voters are merely designating the most dangerous criminal in the land.


Join the debate on our Twitter Timeline!
or-38138
RELATED POSTS
US, UK And Anglosphere: Human Rights Abuses And War Crimes Trash Magna Carta 800th Anniversary
15 June 2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta by King John at Runnymede. Magna Carta notably gave English “free men”  freedom from arbitrary, non-judicial  imprisonment, dispossession, outlawing,  banishment or destruction  by the ruler, a freedom that was variously progressively extended to all citizens and subjects in the Anglosphere  over the next 8 centuries. However the US, UK, Apartheid Israel, and Australia have continued to grossly violate  this freedom in the 21st century. King John I of England reluctantly  granted the Magna Carta ("the Great Charter") on 15 June 1215 after leading Barons  had insisted on formal ...
READ MORE
The Authoritarian Militarization Of The Ethnic Croats: An Alternative View Of The Destruction Of Yugoslavia
The internal and much more external destruction of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s is celebrating in 2015 its 20th years of anniversary. However, this historical and much more geopolitical event still needs a satisfactory research approach in regard to the true geopolitical reasons and political-military course of the destruction of this South Slavic and Balkan state. During the last quarter of century, the (western) global mainstream media unanimously accused Serbia and the Serbs for the national chauvinism as the main cause of the bloody wars on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s. However, the role and direct impact ...
READ MORE
Ukraine’s NATO referendum is a vote for war
The massive artillery bombardment of the peoples of the Donbass, that has been raining down shells and fire on them since Christmas, is a war crime of horrific proportions designed to terrorise the people and bring their refusal to be subject to the NATO-installed regime in Kiev to an end. It is also becoming clear that it has a political purpose, which is to increase anti-Russian, pro-NATO propaganda among the Ukrainian people to influence them to vote to join NATO in a referendum, the consequences of which will be dramatic because a vote for NATO will be a vote for ...
READ MORE
9 of The World’s 10 Least Peaceful Nations Were all Targeted by U.S. Intervention
The 2017 Global Peace Index has declared Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and South Sudan to be among the “least peaceful” countries in the world. Incidentally, all four have been targets of U.S.-led destabilization efforts that were used to pursue economic interests that suit the U.S. MINNEAPOLIS– The annual Global Peace Index, recently released for June 2017, has found that while the world is more peaceful now than last year, violence has increased significantly overall in the past decade. Although the situation has improved in many countries, the ten lowest-ranking nations – known as the world’s “least peaceful” countries – have shown little change ...
READ MORE
The Myth of Hiroshima
With rare exception, the question of whether the atomic bombs were necessary to end World War Two is debated only deep within the safety of academic circles. Could a land invasion have been otherwise avoided? Would more diplomacy have achieved the same ends without the destruction of two cities? Could an atomic test on a deserted island have convinced the Japanese? Was the surrender instead driven primarily by the entry of the Soviets into the Pacific War, which, by historical accident, took place two days after Hiroshima—and the day before Nagasaki was immolated? But it is not only the history of the ...
READ MORE
Slobodan Milosevic: The Killing Of An Innocent Man
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague quietly acknowledged the innocence of former president of Serbia and Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic. Ten years after the very suspicious death of the Serbian leader in a Dutch prison, the 1,300th page of the 2,000-page document on the case of Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, acknowledged that Milosevic had not committed crimes against humanity, nor had he organized any mass killings or deportations of Croats and Bosnians. In other words, it was an innocent man who died in a UN prison. French journalist Dimitri De Koshko was working in Yugoslavia ...
READ MORE
Human Rights Violations: North Korea Versus The U.S.
UN Third Committee Resolution L.23 IN, Legitimizes Stranglehold Economic Sanctions., Used as a Means to "Obliterate" North Korea On November 15, 2016 the United Nations Third Committee adopted the resolution:  “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Among the co-sponsors of the Resolution were United States, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, etc.  Disassociating themselves from the resolution, which they denounced as invalid, were China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, and three other countries opposed to the biased character and double standards that typify “country-specific” resolutions.  The so-sponsors of this resolution are themselves guilty of  criminal human rights ...
READ MORE
Barack Obama Versus Vladimir Putin: How Bloomberg ‘News’ Lies
On December 31st, Josh Rogin of Bloomberg ‘News’ headlined “Inside Obama’s Secret Outreach to Russia,” and his opening sentence ‘reported’ on “the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little interest in … halting his aggression in neighboring Ukraine.” That ‘reporter’ from Bloomberg ‘News’ was ‘reporting’ from only sources inside the U.S. Administration — only from individuals who are hired by and who represent Barack Obama, none who are hired by and who represent Obama’s enemy Vladimir Putin; and so the question naturally arises as to whether Rogin and Bloomberg ‘News’ are ‘reporting’ propaganda, or are they instead reporting ...
READ MORE
The Cold War is Over
Like most Englishmen, I grew up with a natural dislike of “abroad” and a belief in the inferiority of all foreign things. I think it took me five visits to France before I began to regret leaving that lovely country rather than to rejoice at my return to our safe and familiar island. It often strikes me as quite funny that I spent so much of my life as a foreign correspondent, a profession for which I am so unfitted. When I went to live in Moscow in 1990, I felt that I had somehow betrayed my native soil. (I was ...
READ MORE
George W. Bush And King Abdullah Of Saudi Arabia: Is Kissing A “State Sponsor Of Terrorism” A “Terrorist Act”?
In the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush stated in no uncertain terms that “State sponsors of terrorism” would be considered as “terrorists”. “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them”. But there is always an “Exception that the Proves the Rule” and that is George W. Bush himself. When George W. Bush respectfully kisses King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, does this mean that Dubya could–by some stretch of the imagination– be considered a “suspected terrorist”, who should never have been elected president of the United States of America? The answer ...
READ MORE
Documentary film “Stolen Kosovo” (The Czech Republic)
The truth about Kosovo and Metochia. This documentary film was made by the Czech Republic TV and banned in all mainstream globalist media in western countries. It will reveal to you the horrifying story of Kosovo that nobody ever wanted to tell you and debunking all hoaxes, lies and propaganda NATO used for trigger events... In 1999 NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days and destroyed everything on its way bridges,hospitals,schools, telecommunicat­ion buildings, military bases...killing more than 2.500 and wound more than 5.000 civilians. One of the reasons why NATO bombed Serbia is to build the biggest military base in Albania, so they can move ...
READ MORE
The Illegitimacy Of Israel’s Colonisation Of Land In Arab East Jerusalem, The Palestinian West Bank And The Syrian Golan Heights
‘If you buy fruit from Israel you deprive another human being of water and life’ Israel’s comparative economic success is essentially based on water stolen, since 1967, from Syria’s eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee – that provides Israel’s current primary source of fresh water. Rainwater from the Golan’s catchment area feeds into the River Jordan to provide about 30% of Israel’s current water supply. Without this stolen water there would be no citrus fruit, melons, avocados or dates available for export under the label of ‘Produce of Israel’. And that is why the Netanyahu government is determined – with help ...
READ MORE
Stepan Bandera: The Legacy of Self-Loathing Nazi’s in America
Stepan Bandera’s 106th birthday celebration passed on New Year’s day 2015 and the question of what it means in Ukraine is front and center again. Are there really nazis in Ukraine today? When the Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseni Yatsenyuk can say on German News “We cannot allow Russia to attack Ukraine and Germany again like the Soviet Union did in 1941” – Isn’t that case closed regarding ideology? Yet history and the facts are clear that the Bandera legacy has little to do with Ukrainian history except mass murder. Instead history shows the mass murderer and torturer Bandera’s greatest impact on the ...
READ MORE
Memorial Day Ignores Millions of US Imperial Victims
The day commemorates lost lives of US servicemen and women sent to war for the wrong reasons – from the 18th century to today, notably America’s so-called War of Independence, its Civil War, WW I and II and all subsequent wars of choice. America’s only enemies in the past 70 years and throughout at least most of its history were and remain ones it invents. It could have been a model peaceful nation had it chosen a different path. Instead, its history reflects unbridled militarism, endless wars of choice, related violence and chaos, contempt for rule of law principles, along with unparalleled ...
READ MORE
Facts of the Korean War: UN Security Council, Instrument of US led Wars, Blatantly Biased Against North Korea
Recapitulation of the Facts of the Korean War November 7, 1950:  “Just when there was a lull in the fighting and it looked as if peace were possible, MacArthur staged a gigantic and murderous raid directly across from the Chinese frontier, destroying most of a city in an area where bombings had been forbidden to prevent border violations.” “There were reports,” The New York Times said October 15, that General MacArthur had ordered the first bombings of North Korean cities without authorization from Washington.” “General Stratemeyer, commander of the Far East Air Forces described the attack:  ‘when fighter planes swept the ...
READ MORE
The Syrian Crisis Is Part Of A War Waged On Russia By The West
It seems clear now that the West wants to defeat Russia in Syria at all costs. This latest protracted confrontation in the Middle East can be understood as a proxy war of the US and NATO against Putin’s resurgent Russia. But Syria is just one zone of engagement in a much wider war against Russia that has been taking place since Putin started to stand up to the West. The same confrontation also occurs in Ukraine and formerly in Georgia, where Russia successfully halted, albeit temporarily, the Western advance. This amounts to a new Cold War or an undeclared war ...
READ MORE
French Documentary Exposes Ukraine’s Far-Right. But Can Europe Handle The Truth?
The activities of aggressive nationalist and neo-Nazi armed movements in present-day Ukraine are the focal point of Moreira’s documentary.  Their existence is not denied by any of his leading critics in France — even as they try to find excuses to justify their actions. On Wednesday, 3 February, as I was about to start assembling this article on the very important documentary about the Maidan broadcast by the French independent television channel Canal + on Monday evening, 1 February, I was headed off by breaking news on Russia Insider, carrying links to the first half of the documentary in English voice-over ...
READ MORE
Iraq Invasion – Anniversary Of The Biggest Terrorist Attack In Modern History
Since terrorism’s tragedy is again in the news, it is timely to revisit perhaps one of the biggest acts of terrorism in modern history – the illegal invasion and destruction – ongoing – of Iraq. March 20th marked the thirteenth anniversary of an action resulting in the equivalent of a Paris, Brussels, London 7th July 2005, often multiple times daily in Iraq ever since. As for 11th September 2001, there has frequently been that death toll and heart break every several weeks, also ongoing. America and Britain have arguably engaged in and generated the legacy of one of the longest recorded attacks ...
READ MORE
The US And China Can Avoid A Collision Course – If The US Gives Up Its Empire
The problem is America’s global hegemony comes with insistence on maintaining military and economic dominance right in China’s backyard. To avoid a violent militaristic clash with China, or another cold war rivalry, the United States should pursue a simple solution: give up its empire. Americans fear that China’s rapid economic growth will slowly translate into a more expansive and assertive foreign policy that will inevitably result in a war with the US. Harvard Professor Graham Allison has found: “in 12 of 16 cases in the past 500 years when a rising power challenged a ruling power, the outcome was war.” Chicago University scholar John ...
READ MORE
The U.S. War Crime North Korea won’t Forget
North Korea cheered this month when a man with a knife and a history of violent behavior slashed the face of Mark Lippert, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea. The attack in Seoul was “a knife shower of justice,” North Korea said, praising it as “deserved punishment for warmonger United States.” If that sounds mean-spirited, consider this: For years, North Korea has taught schoolchildren to bayonet effigies of U.S. soldiers. Under its young dictator, Kim Jong Un, the government has suggested it was prepared to nuke Washington, Austin and Southern California. More than 40 years ago, Kim Il Sung, the “Great ...
READ MORE
US, UK And Anglosphere: Human Rights Abuses And War Crimes Trash Magna Carta 800th Anniversary
The Authoritarian Militarization Of The Ethnic Croats: An Alternative View Of The Destruction Of Yugoslavia
Ukraine’s NATO referendum is a vote for war
9 of The World’s 10 Least Peaceful Nations Were all Targeted by U.S. Intervention
The Myth of Hiroshima
Slobodan Milosevic: The Killing Of An Innocent Man
Human Rights Violations: North Korea Versus The U.S.
Barack Obama Versus Vladimir Putin: How Bloomberg ‘News’ Lies
The Cold War is Over
George W. Bush And King Abdullah Of Saudi Arabia: Is Kissing A “State Sponsor Of Terrorism” A “Terrorist Act”?
Documentary film “Stolen Kosovo” (The Czech Republic)
The Illegitimacy Of Israel’s Colonisation Of Land In Arab East Jerusalem, The Palestinian West Bank And The Syrian Golan Heights
Stepan Bandera: The Legacy of Self-Loathing Nazi’s in America
Memorial Day Ignores Millions of US Imperial Victims
Facts of the Korean War: UN Security Council, Instrument of US led Wars, Blatantly Biased Against North Korea
The Syrian Crisis Is Part Of A War Waged On Russia By The West
French Documentary Exposes Ukraine’s Far-Right. But Can Europe Handle The Truth?
Iraq Invasion – Anniversary Of The Biggest Terrorist Attack In Modern History
The US And China Can Avoid A Collision Course – If The US Gives Up Its Empire
The U.S. War Crime North Korea won’t Forget

Comments are closed.