The United States has not lost its democracy

By James Eldridge
Sun. January 8, 2006 Seacoast Online

Editor’s note: The writer is a resident of York, Maine.


I know I will not convince any person who believes the United States has lost her democracy, as several writers in these pages have argued from time to time, that this is simply not so.

To them I will simply say your own works refute your own theses. Do you live in fear of being taken away in the middle of the night because of the articles you write? Do you fear your neighbors whisper about you and will report you to the ‘authorities’ because of your public statements?

Are you afraid to not only write this gibberish, are you actually frightened to make statements about Bush being an idiot, a warmonger, a pawn of corporate interests within easy earshot of passerby in downdown Portsmouth?

If you have any of these fears, all I can tell you is that there obviously has been no negative consequence to you, your family or any person you associate with who holds similar nonsensical views. It simply has not has happened. And, if you are living in fear, please rest assured such actions will not happen during the final years of the Bush administration. The very fact such articles can be written and published in these pages is continuing proof our democracy and the freedom it gives us remains vibrant and healthy. There is no Gestapo, no Stasi, no KGB Secret Police for one to fear in this nation, no matter how outrageous or outlandish one’s letter to this paper may be.

Was 9/11 a huge government conspiracy? Some writers think so, I really do not know how to convince someone that his or her theories that Bush was behind it all are nonsense. How can the man win? In Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore portrayed him as an ignorant boob, in the pockets of the Saudis. Then the conspiracy buffs turn around and give him credit of being so devious as to make Machiavelli blush. One might as well argue with someone who believes these theories that there really is a man in the moon. After all, we can all see him on a clear night when the moon is full.

But when Daniel Olmstead wrote in his letter last week and used the word "Fascism", well, as Ronald Reagan once said, "there you go again." Yes, a dictionary will define this term. But unfortunately definitions do not impart understanding. Where are the concentration camps, Mr. Olmstead? When have opposition members in Congress been beaten, harassed, or silenced in any way? When has any vote in Congress even remotely represented a rubber stamp for any Bush administration proposal? It has not happened, is not happening and will not happen, no matter how much your hatred of George W. Bush makes you think it will.

Not now, and not ever, let us all hope. And let us all actively utilize and cherish our freedoms to give us all continued assurance that such will never happened in this nation.

To try to illustrate my point, please consider the date of March 23, 1934. That was the day the German Reichstag passed the Enabling Act which amended the Weimar Constitution to allow the German cabinet, i.e., Riechskanzler Adolf Hitler, to write and approve laws. The act passed, 444 to 94. Hermann Goering, wielding the gavel, had "stacked the deck" to some degree by refusing the recognize the legally elected 81 Communist deputies in order to lower the quorum count from 432 to 378.

There still remained 120 legally elected Social Democrat deputies in the Reichstag that day, but only 94 were present to vote. Some were already in prison (Dachau, the first concentration camp was founded just two days earlier), some stayed away in fear, some had fled Germany. This was the day democracy died in Germany.

To review how swiftly fascism swept over Germany, Herr Hitler was appointed chancellor on January 30, 1933. Then all of his coalition partners where purged, some by sudden death, others by intimidation, from the cabinet followed by passage of the Enabling Act. The last step to ‘total’ one-man rule was the death of President Hindenburg in early August 1934 that allowed the Nazi cabinet, thanks to the provisions of the Enabling Act, to eliminate the office of Reichspräsident and give Hitler the title of "Furher und Reichskanzler." The dictatorship was then complete. No opposition was ever again reflected in any Reichstag vote during the Third Reich.

If Mr. Olmstead still disagrees with me, oh well. With the next U.S. presidential cycle maybe he will get the chance to speak to Nancy Pelosi or some other member of the Democratic opposition in Congress and ask them to explain why the U.S. Congress kowtowed to President Bush.

I encourage any and every person reading this article to visit Washington, D.C., and walk by the White House as I did in October. And the time I chose for my sojourn was very opportune - 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning - as there were no crowds along Pennsylvania Avenue. It was a clear, chilly morning and other than myself and a very polite and personable young police officer, I shared the morning with a protester who has been a permanent fixture in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House since 1981 (see photo).

As the officer explained to me, when Mr. Thomas first set up camp in 1981 no permit was required. Now, in large part because of Mr. Thomas, a permit is required from the Park Service before one can "camp out" in Lafayette Park. But as no permit was needed when Mr. Thomas set up his little home, no action will be taken against him, so long as the camp site is occupied at all times. So, as seen in the photo, either Mr. Thomas, as when I visited, or his wife Conception, or both, are always in occupancy of the camp. Through summer heat and winter cold, rains, snows, whatever the elements, Mr. Thomas has maintained his vigil and hence outlasted Presidents Reagan, Bush the Senior and Clinton. I have little doubt he will outlast Bush the Younger as well.

I ask all readers, would this scene be tolerated in a fascist nation? To anyone who answers yes, the man in the moon is waiting to talk to you.

Thomas's reply