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Abridging our rights as American Citizens
By Ryan Sise


February 02, 2005

When most people hear or think of Fascism, they often contrive images of Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hitler during their reigns in World War II. The Oxford English Dictionary offers this definition: "an extreme right-wing political system or attitude which is in favour of strong central government and which does not allow any opposition," and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers a more comprehensive definition: "a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race and stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition." No doubt, both the regimes headed by Hitler and Mussolini showed many - if not all - aspects of Fascism. Both regimes also employed strategies that included heavy use of the military.

Now, fast-forward to 2001. The events that occurred on the 11th of September that year will be forever etched in history as the greatest terrorist attack to happen on U.S. soil. In the months that followed, political leaders garnered support from many nations to find those responsible for this horrific act, and President Bush's approval rating soared with widespread support from American citizens. The Bush Administration sought retribution and named it The War on Terror; they soon called out any country that stood in their way of finding the responsible terrorists.

As expected, the majority of American citizens felt that their personal security was being threatened, and one of the major duties of the U.S. Government set forth by the U.S. Constitution is to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare of its people. The Bush Administration then created the Department of Homeland Security; the administration also needed to address this new enemy by improving surveillance methods that the Department of Justice could employ. Thus, the Patriot Act - which easily passed through Congress - was created.

Although there are many sections of the Patriot Act, I want to concentrate on a few aspects. Title II deals with expanded powers on surveillance and obtaining information on U.S. citizens. Before the Patriot Act was written, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protected its citizens against unlawful search and seizures. Law enforcement officials - policemen, FBI agents - needed a search warrant provided by a federal judge to search the premises held by a private person or entity. Now that the Patriot Act has passed, not only do they not need a warrant, but also they can search without informing the person or entity. Additionally, before the passage of the Patriot Act, they could only obtain information on people the FBI had evidence as being an agent of a known enemy; now, they can obtain information from any entity - including libraries and bookstores - on anyone, for any reason. The U.S. Government has violated other Constitutional Amendments, as well.

The regimes run by Hitler and Mussolini grew out of or through the use of war, and Bush's campaign is no different. As American armed forces were moving through Afghanistan, GW Bush found that Iraq was violating a sanction set forth by the United Nations concerning the building and stock-piling of weapons of mass destruction, or WMD's. The U.N. insisted on sending teams of weapons inspectors, and upon finding empty bombshells - even though no other ingredients for bombs were found - Bush announced he will be sending troops to Iraq, advising the weapons inspectors to leave. Bush followed-up with a slew of other lies, including Iraq having ties with Al-Qa'ida, and evidence of laboratories for chemical and biological weapons. Many Iraqis saw this as an unjustified invasion, and they weren't far from the truth; those that were more headstrong took up arms against the armed forces of the U.S., and to this day, the insurgency continues harass the American troops.

With thousands killed by the war in Iraq, and many thousands more seriously injured - and thus unable to be put in combat - the Bush Administration has sought ways to adjust how they bring in more troops. This includes: extending the length of tours, initiating a stop-loss policy, re-assigning troops for multiple tours after they've returned home, and employing creative - and often under-handed - recruiting techniques. Although a military draft is illegal, if conditions in Iraq stay their course or get worse, a re-institution of the draft seems almost inevitable.

In addition to employing a strong military presence, the Bush Administration has controlled the socioeconomic conditions in the U.S. During his first term, he provided tax cuts to the wealthy Americans, and he has stated many times that he wants to make those cuts permanent. Many of those wealthy Americans are owners of large corporations; with more money available, they can institute greater economic supremacy over the small and medium-sized businesses, or they could use the money from the tax-cuts for lobbying purposes. Bush has also re-written environment protection laws so that energy and manufacturing firms only have to follow them on a voluntary basis, thus poisoning our rivers and air to cut costs. The Bush Administration also gave a no-bid contract to Haliburton for work in Iraq, and Vice President Dick Cheney was a former CEO of Haliburton.

In addition to giving preference to large corporations, Bush seeks to destroy Social Security. Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt created Social Security as a stable pension program for the unemployed, elderly, and those with chronic illnesses. Bush intends to create private investment accounts so that workers can invest in the stock market. The stock market isn't a stable way to invest money because its performance depends on so many unpredictable aspects, and the FDIC doesn't protect investments. As such, President Bush wants to remove what has historically been a very stable aspect of government and have people gamble with their retirement plans. Additionally, brokers will be making commissions from these investments. In any case, the wealthy will continue to get richer while the lower and middle classes struggle to keep up.

President Bush has promised to work on the faulty healthcare system, which is commendable, although his approach to the problem is just as flawed. With hospitals and doctors paying thousands for medical malpractice insurance, Bush wants to severely decrease how much patients can receive from malpractice lawsuits. He stated his reasons as being economic, yet malpractice lawsuits only constitute about five percent of the total cost to healthcare entities. The major problem in our healthcare system is the cost of medication, yet instead of addressing that issue, Bush is severely limiting an avenue - and often the only opportunity - people have to rectify an injustice against them. Moreover, Bush's plan doesn't address the more than 48 million uninsured Americans. Without a socialized healthcare system, costs increase many times over for those without health insurance.

The common man is losing representation in governmental bodies. In both 2000 and 2004 (Florida and Ohio respectively), there were many reports of voter fraud, ranging from votes not being counted, voter intimidation, voting booths distributed incorrectly, and many others, so recounts ensued. In Florida, many people in the Bush Campaign pestered the building where the recount was taking place; thus, they never finished the recount and the Electoral Votes went to Bush. In Ohio, members of the Libertarian Party and Green Party raised enough money to pay for a recount themselves. As per Ohio state law, they recounted five percent of the total vote, and if a candidate doesn't win decisively, they count all the votes - including the provisional and absentee ballots. However, they only counted the five percent, and found Bush to be the winner, even though it was only by one or two percentage points. Additionally, secretary of state Ken Blackwell of Ohio and secretary of state Katherine Harris of Florida where chairs of the Bush Campaign in both years; the secretary of state should have nothing to do with any of the presidential campaigns. Of its own accord, the Bush Administration has denied the American people the protection of Amendment XII of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees that every vote must be counted in the elections.

Bush has indirectly suppressed opposition, as well. His administration contains only political personnel that agree with his perspective on how the country should be run; moreover, any points of view that alter from his are quickly and effectively shunned. This also extends to the way he treats the American people with views different from his. Although he doesn't prohibit protesters, he has them moved some distance away from the event, so in effect, he shuns their point of view as well.

Both Hitler and Mussolini used heavy propaganda to further their agenda, and Bush has followed suit. He's used millions of dollars from taxpayers to pay columnists to promote his political agenda; he's also paid journalists to write his speeches, and journalists are supposed to be un-biased reporters of current events, not people assisting politicians pursue their own agendas.

To sum up, the Bush Administration has used a war to further a nationalistic agenda, has severely controlled the socioeconomic conditions in our country, and has found ways to abridge the rights provided by the First, Fourth, and Twelfth Amendments. Thus, they've taken away our rights to peacefully assemble, our protections against unlawful searches and seizures, and they've taken away our right to have a voice in our government. Not only do I expect to see the same GW Bush in his 2nd term, I also expect more abridging of our rights as American Citizens.

Ryan Sise
Denver, CO - USA


Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
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