Perspectives on the aftermath of “Hope”

http://www.truthout.org/democracy-and-threat-authoritarianism-politics-beyond-barack-obama56890

If I was less lazy (or less in grad school) I would write more articles like the following:

Excerpt:

A Turn to the Dark Side of Politics

The American media, large segments of the public and many educators widely believe that authoritarianism is alien to the political landscape of American society. Authoritarianism is generally associated with tyranny and governments that exercise power in violation of the rule of law. A commonly held perception of the American public is that authoritarianism is always elsewhere. It can be found in other allegedly “less developed/civilized countries,” such as contemporary China or Iran, or it belongs to a fixed moment in modern history, often associated with the rise of twentieth century totalitarianism in its different forms in Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union under Stalin.

Even as the United States became more disposed to modes of tyrannical power under the second Bush administration – demonstrated, for example, by the existence of secret CIA prisons, warrantless spying on Americans and state-sanctioned kidnapping – mainstream liberals, intellectuals, journalists and media pundits argued that any suggestion that the United States was becoming an authoritarian society was simply preposterous. For instance, the journalist James Traub repeated the dominant view that whatever problems the United States faced under the Bush administration had nothing to do with a growing authoritarianism or its more extreme form, totalitarianism.[2] On the contrary, according to this position, America was simply beholden to a temporary seizure of power by some extremists, who represented a form of political exceptionalism and an annoying growth on the body politic. In other words, as repugnant as many of Bush’s domestic and foreign policies might have been, they neither threatened nor compromised in any substantial way America’s claim to being a democratic society.

Against the notion that the Bush administration had pushed the United States close to the brink of authoritarianism, some pundits argued that this dark moment in America’s history, while uncharacteristic of an aspiring democracy, had to be understood as temporary perversion of American law and democratic ideals that would end when George W. Bush concluded his second term in the White House. In this view, the regime of George W. Bush and its demonstrated contempt for democracy was explained away as the outgrowth of a serendipitous act of politics – a corrupt election and the bad-faith act of a conservative court in 2000, or a poorly run election campaign in 2004 by an uncinematic and boring Democratic candidate.

According to this narrative, the Bush-Cheney regime exhibited such extreme modes of governance in its embrace of an imperial presidency, its violation of domestic and international law, and its disdain for human rights and democratic values that it was hard to view such anti-democratic policies as part of a pervasive shift towards a hidden order of authoritarian politics, which historically has existed at the margins of American society. How else to label such a government other than shockingly and uniquely extremist, given its political legacy that included the rise of the security and torture state; the creation of legal illegalities in which civil liberties were trampled; the launching of an unjust war in Iraq legitimated through official lies; the passing of legislative policies that drained the federal surplus by giving away more than a trillion dollars in tax cuts to the rich; the enactment of a shameful policy of preemptive war; the endorsement of an inflated military budget at the expense of much-needed social programs; the selling off of as many government functions as possible to corporate interests; the resurrection of an imperial presidency; an incessant attack against unions; support for a muzzled and increasingly corporate-controlled media; government production of fake news reports to gain consent for regressive policies; use of an Orwellian vocabulary for disguising monstrous acts such as torture (“enhanced interrogation techniques”); furtherance of a racist campaign of legal harassment and incarceration of Arabs, Muslims and immigrants; advancement of a prison binge through a repressive policy of criminalization; establishment of an unregulated and ultimately devastating form of casino capitalism; the arrogant celebration and support for the interests and values of big business at the expense of citizens and the common good, and the dismantling of social services and social safety nets as part of a larger campaign of ushering in the corporate state and the reign of finance capital.

The aftermath of “Hope”

Can we ever find it again? Are all slowly waking up to how broken the system is? Plenty of people on the right are fed up…but can we find some common ground in a radical center?