Americans Are Losing Their Democracy
Today, I am going to take the time to write about an issue that I feel is the single biggest issue facing Americans; freedom. People in the United States have long taken it for granted that they are free. Increasingly, this notion of ”freedom” has become increasingly confusing. I would argue that Americans are not free and not living in a democratic society. The America that we have come to love, the land of the free, has vanished and in its place is the broken nation that we see today.
Democracy implies that the people of a nation have a voice in what is happening in their country and that it is ultimately the government that is responsible to the people. This is not the case with today’s government. Sure, we get to vote on the leaders that take office but those same leaders, once they get into office, are ruled by greed and special interests. I know this to be true because we have seen the corruption of such institutions as congress and the supreme court. We have seen time and again that our leaders are ruled by the interests of lobbyists and huge corporate interests such as defense contractors. In fact, there are many companies that spend more money lobbying congress than they paid in taxes. To put it bluntly, Americans can elect their leaders but the leaders that they elect are ultimately ruled by the interests of those that donate large sums of money to their campaigns rather than the interests of their constituents.
Furthermore, we have seen the population of our prisons explode. The United States has about 5% of the worlds population and yet we have nearly 25% of the worlds prisoners. What is even more disturbing is that we now have prisons that are run for-profit. That’s right, the more people are in prison the more some private corporation will profit. If Americans are free how come there are so many of us in jail and how come prisons are getting paid to keep us there?
We have also seen the increasing militarization of police forces. The NYPD is known to have armored personnel carriers and even the ability to take out an airplane. What’s more is that the NYPD is being encouraged to show a “strong military presence” on the streets of New York. The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, has even called the NYPD his own personal army. What’s even more disturbing is that our government has now started using our drone technology on American soil. When do police stop being police and become a military? I would argue the second that we give them military technology for them to use upon our citizens.
But we still have the right to free speech, right? Not so fast. During the Occupy Wall Street crackdowns journalists have been targeted for trying to report on the protests. The protesters themselves have been subjected to police brutality for simply trying to express their first amendment rights. When our representatives come back home from Washington many of them do not even schedule town hall meetings; preferring instead to have campaign fundraisers. It seems as if the “freedom of speech” does not include the right to talk to our elected representatives, to have free press, or to peaceably assemble.
The attack on civil liberties, it seems, is just getting started. When the PATRIOT act was passed it was considered a piece of legislation that would help us fight the “war on terror”. What we got instead was an excuse for the U.S. government to spy on its own citizens and strip them of the due process that has been a fundamental aspect of American values. Our government, it seems was not happy even with these extreme powers that it obtained through the PATRIOT act. Our government is currently in the process of passing HR 1540, better know as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This bill describes terrorists as “anyone who has committed a belligerent act” and allows for indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens without trial. The defense department is even regarding lawful protests as “low level terrorism“. If the NDAA passes it would give the government ultimate authority to take protesters such as those currently occupying wall street and throw them in prison for simply voicing their opinion. In effect, the U.S. Constitution would be a thing of the past; replaced by a totalitarian authority wielded by those with enough money to influence our government officials.
How do you define democracy? I tend to like this definition:
Democracy; government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
However, those that we elect and send to Washington have an absurdly different interpretation of democracy. They view democracy as a system of government which wields military power on its own citizens, imprisons them without giving them any rights of due process and limits their rights to free speech. Is this what democracy means to you? I you answered no then you need to get active. Call or contact your representative and let them know that you do not appreciate the attack on our civil liberties. Organize and take to the streets in protest while you still can. This is not a liberal or conservative issue; it is an American issue. We, the people, need to let the government know that we are tired of being victimized by the plutocrats in Washington and that we are going to fight them with every ounce of strength that we can muster. We must shout from the top of our lungs “I am American and I will fight for my freedom!”
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe