Herd the Sheep. Support the ACLU.
I like this image, taken from a web page of the American Civil Liberties Union. It references Ben Franklin’s quote, “Make yourself a sheep and the wolves will eat you,” and it rightly chastises Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for rolling over, again and again, to George W. Bush’s authoritarian demands. When Reid and Pelosi were in the minority, they had some excuse for letting Bush’s assaults on peace, justice and the constitution go through without a battle. But with a Democratic majority why hasn’t the Military Commissions Act been overturned? Why hasn’t Guantanamo been closed? Why hasn’t extraordinary rendition been outlawed? Why did warrantless wiretapping get expanded?
I disagree with those who suggest that returning Democrats to power is the way to solve the problems this nation faces. The Democrats are in control of both houses of Congress now, and look what that hasn’t gotten us. There are some really good people who really mean well and who are really trying who are also Democrats, but there aren’t enough of them, and the Democrats in charge seem more interested in looking out for what they think are the interests of the Democratic Party than in supporting and defending the constitution, civil liberties and human rights.
But I also disagree with those who conclude from the current state of affairs that there’s nothing to be done and we might as well just assume the fetal position and wait for the jackbooted thugs of Homeland Security to insert the anal probes. There are positive courses of action to be taken. In elections, we can seek out and support alternatives to Republicans and machine Democrats, candidates who are more committed to liberty and justice. Outside the government, we can support organizations like the ACLU, which have through litigation arguably accomplished more than the Democratic Party in placing a check on the authoritarian excesses of the Bush administration. The ACLU was behind the legal work that revealed the existence of Bush “rally squads,” the purpose of which is to squelch dissent wherever George W. Bush goes. The ACLU organized opposition to the expansion of warrantless wiretapping. The ACLU uncovered evidence of the existence of warrantless wiretapping in the first place. The ACLU exposed suicides at Guantanamo. The ACLU brought military tribunals to a temporary halt. I could go on and on and on listing the accomplishments of this organization. If you’ve got a little bit of extra cash and you’d like to help the ACLU in its effective efforts, consider a donation.