"By passing the detainee and surveillance bills, Congress has given the executive branch the power to silence dissent. Naive Americans believe that there is a difference between the government having arbitrary and unaccountable powers to arrest enemies and using these powers against its own citizens. But governments always use the powers they gain. Otherwise, there is no point to the US Constitution, which was written to restrain the growth of government power. If government can be trusted with arbitrary and unaccountable power, the US Constitution has no purpose." -- Paul Craig Roberts, who worked in President Reagan's Treasury Department.
And there's the whole debate in a nutshell, right there...one big reason why so many Republicans are voting differently (or, in protest, not at all) this year. In short, if fear and devotion to the nanny state tip the balance for you, then you'll doubtless vote Republican; if courage and devotion to the Bill of Rights, then this time, IMO, you'll probably vote Democratic.
Why "this time"?
Hey, I have often voted Republican in years past, on a person by person basis; in normal times, that's the only sane way to vote. And neither party is perfect, and the current totalitarian slide has been enabled by too many Dems...but today's version of the GOP is virtually lockstep on this stuff, and (IMO) it's time to send them a message that it just won't do.
I hear some Californians suggest that Ahnuld is different. For the record, Ahnuld actually spent the majority of his term operating as Shrubby Lite, until his propositions failed in that wasteful special election he called, and he realized he'd better put on that billboard smile, agree to some temporary compromise, and basically pretend to be a human being long enough to fool people into giving him another term. Apparently, for some, that's worked.
Here's the thing. If Constitutional government is formally ended, the state Governors would be the natural place to turn for regional control. If you're comfortable seeing a guy with emergency powers who has no political skills, has repeatedly broken his agreements, is entirely beholden to the GOP (and, btw, is an Austrian who's on record as admiring Adolf Hitler's dictatorial acumen, though apparently it's considered impolite to mention that these days), not much I can do to dissuade you, I s'pose. I'll be voting for Phil Angelides, because he's less likely to go Grand Moff Tarkin on us. ;)
Finally, some are worried that voting can't make much (or any) difference any more...and the swaggery confidence, despite all the polls, of both Karl Rove and the Shrubster that there is no danger whatsoever of them losing GOP control of either the House or Senate certainly doesn't do anything to lessen that worry (it's almost like they knew something you don't know, isn't it?). There are two basic reasons for this worry: one structural, one often seen as paranoid. It is true that the GOP has gone insanely overboard in redrawing the congressional districts, so that it's far more difficult to defeat their guys than it has ever been. That said, the numbers really are amazing this time: if votes are honestly counted, the likely Dem pickup ranges from large to staggering, so just register, vote, and the structural problem can be overcome.
More worrisome is the GOP push to force everyone in the country to use electronic voting machines -- proven to be gameable electronic voting machines -- with no paper trail, nor any other accountability (since their tech is privately owned and not subject to random inspection). Even with optical scan machines -- where at least a paper ballot exists -- it's awfully easy to rig the outcome, and unless the announced outcome is very close, you'll never get to see those actual ballots again (given they're preserved at all, of course; e.g., check Ohio's 2004 election). Considering the frightening devotion of the current GOP to power at all costs, and its proven track record of outright corruption, these are arguably not paranoid concerns.
(Thiis is especially true in California, btw, where Secretary of State Kevin Shelley -- who practically came to blows with Riverside County and others when they insisted on using e-vote machines he'd decertified as unreliable -- suddenly got caught up in a scandal, had to resign, and was replaced -- by Ahnuld -- with a devoted GOP party man whose stated goal is to get everyone in California voting on those very e-vote machines just as quickly as possible. You just can't make this stuff up. :( )
In the short term. there's only one way to beat dicey GOP voting machines. Everybody in the country who'd like to defeat these clowns has got to register -- preferably as a Democrat, simply because it's harder to believe that a new voter would register as a Dem only to vote GOP -- and then turn out in massive numbers and vote. The key, y'see, is to make a rigged outcome impossible to believe. Any race within, say, five points, can be stolen...unless Dem voters outnumber GOP voters by substantial margins. In short,
IF EVERYBODY IN THIS COUNTRY WHO CAN'T STAND ANOTHER SECOND OF THESE JAYBIRDS WOULD REGISTER, AND VOTE, FOR THEIR ONLY VIABLE COMPETITORS, WE MIGHT ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO SAVE OUR NATION.
I have to admit I am not kidding myself about the likely outcome, here. A lot of these guys are without conscience, without remorse, and utterly unwilling to give up power...and there's no guarantee that another (ahem) "unexpected event" won't make the whole election thing moot. Nor, if we do retake Congress, will it be a helluva lot of fun to have the GOP promptly blame us for everything they've screwed up.
But I am persuaded that we have to try: that this is a critical part of the real "task that history has given us." Here, I can agree with the Prexy's words, if not his intentions:
[W]ith the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?
Our turn. Our task. Our time.
93 93/93 -- AJ