A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Brent Budowsky
Thomas Paine and his fellow traitor to the Crown and champion of democracy George Washington must be standing at the Gates of heaven and pounding the table while they call down to us with outrage about what we do.
This is the first in a series of notes that will be followed by actionable suggestions on matters such as the future of Air America and its possible alliance with grassroots and blogs for mutual empowerment; a call to action against dangers of scandal or outrages in a Congressional election that could be a repeat of 2000; and ending the Republican Senate cover-up of the remainder of the Intelligence Committee report that could prove false statements, potentially before Congressional Committees involving pre-war intelligence, that must not be covered up until after the election.
Here, we set the stage, and define the mission:
Never before in the history of the Republic have the politics of fear been used so ignobly to put our freedoms under basic attack.
Never before in the history of the Republic have those freedoms been surrendered so casually, so fearfully, so timidly and so meekly by a society that so easily forgets about the rivers of blood of American heroes who died to give us what we so casually, so fearfully, so timidly and so meekly surrender today.
One personal note. I have faced enough danger in my life, as have many of you. And I live and work at the epicenter of the next major terrorist attack, if and when there is one, yards from the World Bank, blocks from the White House, and if there is a significant terrorist attack in our capital I might well be dead.
But I will tell you this: I will be damned if I will surrender even one of my rights, even one of your rights, even one of America's first principles, for somebody else's politics, or somebody else's fear. And I do not believe you would either.
I do not refer to what might happen. I refer to the freedoms that have already been surrendered, largely without a fight, though I propose that those who cannot decide whether voting is worth the effort, consider what these people would do if there is another terrorist attack, a prospect that would make George Washington tremble with anger and make Tom Paine pound his fist with rage.
George Washington crossed the Delaware with troops risking death in a river frozen with ice on a Christmas Eve, rallying them to courage, on behalf of a banner of freedom that they hoped, and prayed, and fought to make timeless.
George Bush implores our people to be afraid, and wants people to think: we may not be comfortable with a President who claims the unilateral power to abrogate the Bill of Rights and violate Federal Law at will with a signing statement, but he makes us feel a little bit safer, so it's ok. And so it happened.
Praise the Lord that the troops that crossed the Delaware with Washington were made of sterner stuff than those who let this happen.
George Washington lived with his troops at Valley Forge, where many died of famine, while others died with their bare feet bleeding into the ice, and he rallied them with bravery, for a cause greater than themselves, greater than their lives, greater even than the Nation they created and the times they lived in.
George Bush tells us to be afraid watching our television sets from the safety of our living rooms, and wants us to think: we may be uncomfortable when tens of millions of us are spied on, when the Congress and Courts are not permitted to know, when even our newspapers of record are labelled as traitors, but it makes us feel a litte bit safer, so its ok. And so it happened.
Praise the Lord that the Continental Army was made of men and women with sterner stuff than this.
Thomas Paine wrote one of the great best sellers in human history, gave his money to the troops, and travelled with Washington and the soldiers into battle. At the most dangerous hours of what Paine called The American Crisis he would put pen to paper, believing that the sun never shined on a greater cause than this, and rallied the nation to greater heights of courage, while he rallied the troops to greater bravery in battle.
Standing at the banks of the Delaware about to cross into what may be the single greatest epic battle for freedom in history, facing long odds and the prospect that defeat could spell doom for the cause they loved so deeply, Washington read to cheering troops these words by Thomas Paine as they prepared to man the boats and charge into battle:
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of this country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly..
George Bush implores us to be afraid, and unlike Washington quoting Paine to cheering soldiers, wants us to think like this: we may be a bit uncomfortable with an executive so unilaterally powerful it has much in common with the British crown, with secret after secret kept from the American people who like sheep are no longer allowed to know, with a Congress that accepts the treatment of the vassal, and courts that too often are no longer permitted to know any more than our people, but it makes us feel safer, so it's ok. And so it happened.
Praise the Lord that the patriots who rallied to the cause at Lexington and Concord were made of sterner stuff than this.
George Washington faced many dark days when the Continental Army appeared doomed to defeat, when his advisors urged him to approve torture against the captured troops of the Crown. Washington said NO, we need not do these things to win, and if we do, we lose the specialness and power and wonder of what makes America America. Thomas Paine said, loudly and often, when the great notion of America was challenged from any direction: In America, the Law is King.
George Bush beseeches us to be afraid, and wants us to think like this: we may be uncomfortable with the use of torture that is opposed and condemned by every leader of every democratic country everywhere in the world, we may be uncomfortable with tactics opposed by every branch of our military at every level of command, we may not be comfortable with abuses condemned by every leader of every religion except for the mullahs who advise the murderers, but it makes us feel a little safer, so it is ok. And so it has happened.
Praise the Lord that those who rang that bell on that July 4 in Philadelphia, all called traitors in their time, were made of sterner stuff than this.
George Washington believed that politics must be a noble profession, that the unity of the Nation is the first principle in the conduct of war, that power must be used wisely, and the greatest obligation of the most powerful is to know when to stand aside for the better interests of the country.
When the Continental Army had triumphed George Washington had the power to be the King, but he chose to go home instead, believing too much power is unhealthy for our democracy. When Washington served brilliantly as our first President, he had the power to remain President for life, but chose again to yield power and the presidency to others, in the higher interests of our democracy.
George Bush implores our people to be afraid, and wants us to think like this: we may be uncomfortable with our nation so deliberately divided, with so much of our politics to be so disastrously disgusting and distrusted, with even heroes in the other party demeaned for their very acts of heroism, but if those who oppose him can be portrayed in the most grotesque ways as friends of the terrorists or enemies of the State, our country may more divided, but we are more afraid, so it's ok. And so it has happened.
Praise the Lord that the colonial armies that marched on Yorktown were made of sterner and nobler stuff than this.
What is missing from our country at this time, is any serious debate on the enormous stakes that are involved, and the enormous dangers that await a continuation of a one party government, without any checks and balances, flouting the values that have been protected for more than two hundred years, with a nation more divided than at any moment since the Civil War, with policies that anger and alienate the decent opinion of freedom's friends throught the world, with actions that are alien to the first principles of our American democracy.
The deadly sin of the Bush presidency, is that they mock George Washington by trying to make us afraid, and they use that fear, to mock what Washington and Paine and all others fought for. These are not differences of degree, or distinctions of policy. These are defamations against our democracy, the first principles of our freedom, the core of our constitution, the profoundly patriotic notion that in America the Law is the King, as Paine wrote, and that in America the King is Not the law, as the merchandisers of fear want the timid and afraid to so meekly accept.
The Bill of Rights, the rule of law, the freedom of the press, the protection against the King knocking on our doors at night without warrant, the protection against government spying on us without Courts or the Congress being made aware, the notion of America as a family rather than warring clans of domestic enemies, the respect for first principles of democracies everywhere, the defense against practices that violate the common spirit of the great religions of the world, and more, and more.
These matters go the heart of the character of our country, issues that determine whether we believe in the values and institutions of George Bush, George Washington or George III.
Heaven help us, if we are attacked again, and those who merchandise the selling of fear in service to their ambition of the surrender of our liberties, use even that failure, to create even more fear, to seize even more power, to attack even more freedom, in their endless obsession to win at all costs, to rule without limits, and to demean their fellow patriots with no regard to honor, integrity and truth.
What is striking is not only the Draconian danger of the merchandising of fear and monopolization of power that would follow another terrorist attack, but the Draconian fact of what has already happened, what fundamental freedoms have already been stripped away with barely a fight, and hardly a debate, about the first principles of freedom, democracy, liberty and law.
The real heroes of America are sent to battle in faraway lands, wisely or not, while the society at home that pays no price for their sacrifice, makes no sacrifice of their own, cannot even provide them with enough bandages and helmets and armor, sits in the safety of our homes bartering away our freedoms, surrending so many of our rights, persuaded by the sales forces of fear while they listen to their IPODs or watch their television screens and so casually give away freedoms they esteem so lightly, which Paine said we must hold so dearly, and fight for so hard.
For those who populate the Loyal Opposition, what is striking is their sense of business as usual, their internecine rivalries rather than a fight for our lives for the things that are most important, the lethargy of the leaders, the fippancy of the financiers, and the deadwood of insiderism of a party that too often appears too accustomed to losing, too weak to wage the fight to win, and too lacking in first principles to understand the magnitude of the stakes, or the urgency of the mission.
I and others have written about how we can win, and we will have more to say as this epic event unfolds. The President's popularity is rising again; the forces of intimidation and fear are taking their toll; even timid television networks are capable of running films that exploit fear to corrupt our sacred moments in what border on propaganda films of the State; polls are beginning to show the race for Congress is narrowing and we now enter seven weeks in which they will throw at us an unprecedented barrage of slanders and fear.
Each and every one of us will have to think and act, to work and dream, like George Washington reading those words of Thomas Paine to courageous colonists who pounded their fists, and jumped into their boats, and got off at the South Bank of the Delaware to charge into the fight they won, for the values we fight for today, and will no longer surrender to any one, on any day, any more.
Each and every one of us can find our own barricade to man, our own battle station to defend, our own personal and individual way with our money, our time, our brains, our energy, our hearts, our soul, our feet and our spirit for our America and the America that has always a beacon of hope for our people and people everywhere.
Dreaming of the American Revolution for freedom before the fight was even begun, Thomas Paine wrote these words, his vision that can be our vision, for the day this fight is finally won:
"The air, purged of its poisonous vapors, was fresh and healthy. The dried fountains were replenished; the waters sweet and wholesome. The sickly earth, recovered to new life, abounded with vegetation. The groves were musical with innumerable songsters, and the long deserted fields echoed with the joyous sound...."
That day will come. God Bless America.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION