Checks and Balances and the "F-Word"

Is there enough going on to make you nervous yet? The Vice President of the United States was the keynote speaker at a conference where other speakers called for “a new McCarthyism” to bring “terror” to intellectuals, saying “let’s oppress them [liberals],” and “the entire Harvard faculty” are “traitors.” A Congressman said, “America’s Operation Iraqi Freedom is still producing shock and awe, this time among the blame-America-first crowd,” ? Then he said, “We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and facilities to make them inside Iraq.”

Meanwhile, right-wing commentators talk about killing American journalists, their premier blogs talk about former president Carter as being on the side of the enemy and leftists have “seamlessly taken up the cause of Islamic fascism”. I have provided only a few examples.

When you hear threatening talk like this, in the company of the country’s leadership, you know that whatever comes next isn’t going to be pleasant. Things do not appear to be heading in a good direction at all. If you have been following this in the blogs, you know that more and more people are becomming concerned that the Right’s rhetoric is growing ever more violent and totalitarian. Serious people have started referring to the “f-word.” (See also here, here, here, here and many other places.)

Oliver Willis writes,

You cannot deal with that sort of ideology in any sort of accomodationist manner. Liberals need to understand this, from Democratic senators in Washington who still ? still ? refuse to vote their conscience out of some sense of loyalty to a long-dead notion of civility in Washington, to progressive pundits who actually believe that their right-wing counterparts in the nation’s media are actually there for a give-and-take rather than a chance to paint everyone to the left of Joe Lieberman as a terrorist sympathizer.

[. . .] Wake up, folks. We’re in an ideological war with these folks and the sooner you realize that the better. The goal of the modern conservative movement, as embodied by George W. Bush, is not just a simple majority of conservative thought – rather, it is the elimination of everything but conservative thought.

I think we are entering a new phase of American history. These are not normal times, the pendulum is not swinging back, and historical trends of American politics no longer apply. American democracy was built on a system of checks and balances, and mechanisms of oversight and accountability. But the checks and balances and oversight and accountability are being removed. There is no Congressional oversight of this administration, the Justice Department does not investigate its crimes, the Federalist Society judges block all attempts to enforce the laws and the new media is no longer functional. The military acts as an arm of The Party and The Party is firmly in control of the State. The system of controls and protections that was carefully built over the last two centuries was put in place for reasons, by people who learned the lessons of history. I can not think of a time in history when a society left itself so wide open to tyranny from its leadership without it occurring.