A little something to think about, courtesy of Michael Moynihan in the Boston Globe (h/t to reader WB for the link):
…America began the 21st century with freshly burnished democratic credentials from its support of democratic transitions abroad and the world’s strongest democracy at home. No country had a stronger system of checks and balances. In no country was freedom so central to individual identity or civic institutions so deeply rooted. Wealth was comparatively widely distributed and a belief in fairness ruled. Yet each of these assets has been taxed.With the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as its excuse and using fear as its political currency, a clique around President Bush appropriated an unprecedented level of control over the levers of power.
This group launched the Iraq war, began warrant less domestic surveillance, depreciated Congress with the theory of the unitary executive, embraced torture, weakened habeas corpus, and politicized, wherever possible, implements of power. Tax policies widened the gap between rich and poor while the renunciation of human rights and the Geneva Convention eroded America’s reputation as a beacon of freedom.
To hide many of these actions, the administration employed secrecy and fear. This moment of reprieve is a good one to survey just how American democracy held up.
So strong is the American tradition of justice that the system of kangaroo tribunals devised by former Justice Department official John Yoo, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and others has yet to really function. The United States, with luck, may re-embrace the Geneva Convention. The independence of a few key news outlets saved America from the fate of countries such as Russia, where the consolidation of the press has given President Vladimir Putin free reign to stifle democracy. A tough, independent prosecutor took on the Bush administration. And the American people shifted the balance of power in Congress.
But consider also what didn’t work.
The media was slow to report what it knew. CBS, for example, held on to the Abu Ghraib story for weeks. The 109th Congress acquiesced in its own demotion. And in a manner reminiscent of the Milgram experiments at Yale in which ordinary people turned up the voltage on prisoners when permitted, a shocking number of people in high places revealed a predilection for torture.
Current thaw notwithstanding, the work of restoring rights lost to the last seven years has yet to begin….
We have a lot of work ahead of us all. Every citizen in this nation must shoulder some of the burden, for we all bear responsibility for the actions that the Bush Administration has taken in our name. Would that it were otherwise, but that is the truth of it.
All of us — every single one of us — must stand together to right the wrongs of the last few years, for if we do not we are just as complicit in the illegal and unconstitutional actions as those who advocated them in the first place. We cannot wait for someone else to act on our behalf. We must do this work ourselves, and we must begin now.
We must stand united in a common cause — to restore the blessings of liberty, to ourselves and our posterity — to uphold our constitution, our civil liberties and the rule of law above whatever petty partisan cause or drummed up faux wedge issue for political gain may have divided the nation the past few years from its root belief in liberty and justice for all.
We must stand together in this, all of us, for the good of our nation and the good of us all. We, the people…because the time for accountability and renewal is now.