Explain it to me

I keep stumbling into arguments about something lately and I’m starting to feel so far down the rabbit hole of surreality that I’m wondering if I can get out. I’m hoping you guys can help me.

Can someone tell me, please, when we voted on, or otherwise agreed as a nation, to ignore the central, singular importance of the rule of law?

Can any of you tell me when the threats of divisiveness, extreme partisanship, rancor, recrimination, or hell, even political failure, became paramount over upholding the Constitution?

And while you’re at it, explain to me also how the United States of America became some huge shark, one that will drown, die, and sink downward into darkness the second it stops moving forward? Explain to me why we can’t afford to stop? Stop and focus and take the time and effort to do what the law says must be done when those in power have betrayed the public trust?

Explain it to me, and then look back into the events, external and internal, of your own life and tell me when you decided that you, as a citizen in a larger group of citizens, began to believe that it was a good thing, an advisable, comfortable course of action, to ignore these things, to forget the Constitution, to assume things would work out fine for you and me and those who will live in America after you and I are gone. Was it one singular event that convinced you? Or did you just let it fade from your consciousness over time? Was it an act of determination or one of resignation? Are you proud of it? Do you think about it all?

Because I have to tell you, a fair number of people I know, that I trust even, have looked me in the eye and told me it was okay with them, that it was advisable even, for Bush and Cheney to get away with their crimes. That the country couldn’t stand it, that there aren’t any politicians that we can trust enough to do the job right, that the Democrats might fail, might lose their hard-won advantage, that bigger problems are happening now, that we should let it go because it was all in the past. Enough people have had that argument with me that I’m assuming some portion of you guys feel that way too.

Feel that way despitethis.


Because a lot of seemingly good, decent folks believe these things, I assume there are some good reasons for doing so. I guess, given enough time and argument, I might come to understand, if not agree with, some of them. Someday maybe, but today, right now, I do not get it. I do not understand.

I understandThomas Tamm:

And we learned that the only way that we can be kept safe is for the government to break our laws? I just disagree with that. I think that we are stronger and better as a nation when we follow the Constitution, when we follow the statutes, and when we follow the rule of law.

I understandGlenn Greenwald:

What you have is a two-tiered system of justice where ordinary
Americans are subjected to the most merciless criminal justice system
in the world. They break the law. The full weight of the criminal
justice system comes crashing down upon them. But our political class,
the same elites who have imposed that incredibly harsh framework on
ordinary Americans, have essentially exempted themselves and the
leaders of that political class from the law.

They have license to break the law. That’s what we’re deciding
now as we say George Bush and his top advisors shouldn’t be
investigated let alone prosecuted for the laws that we know that
they’ve broken. And I can’t think of anything more damaging to our
country because the rule of law is the lynch pin of everything we have.

I understandBarbara Jordan:

I join in thanking you for giving the junior members of this committee the glorious opportunity of
sharing the pain of this inquiry. Mr. Chairman, you are a strong man and it has not been easy but we
have tried as best we can to give you as much assistance as possible.

Earlier today, we heard the beginning of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, “We,
the people.” It is a very eloquent beginning. But when the document was completed on the seventeenth
of September 1787 I was not included in that “We, the people.” I felt somehow for many years that George
Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake. But through the process of amendment,
interpretation and court decision I have finally been included in “We, the people.”

Today, I am an inquisitor; I believe hyperbole would not be fictional and would not overstate the
solemnness that I feel right now. My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total.
I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction
of the Constitution.

If you believe differently, tell me why. Try and help me understand it, please.

9 thoughts on “Explain it to me

  1. It’s not so much a belief as it is human nature.
    Look at the concept of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Where do we start? Basic human needs: food, shelter, safety, warmth etc. As those get satisfied, we tend to climb up the ladder to broader thought, deeper concerns etc.
    What has happened over the past eight years is that we’ve been starved. 9/11 brought us back down a few rungs on the ladder and the GWB All-Stars have helped knock us down even further. We’re at the point of being ten minutes from having someone get dragged out of the Capitol building screaming, “SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!!” We can’t afford shit. We can’t get jobs. We can’t keep roofs over our heads. (Let’s not even talk about the damned war. When food is kicking your ass, thinking “Hey let’s look at this idiotic Iraq situation” is likely to just be viewed as piling on.)
    We aren’t fearful of the terrorists anymore. That’s existential fear. That’s a nebulous fear.
    We’re afraid of calling in sick because our job might be gone when we get back. We’re afraid of seeing the spike in our ARM because the five-year window on our “zero-money-down” mortgage is closed and the chickens have come home to roost. We’re afraid of seeing our boss or our boss’s boss wandering around the office for fear they’re looking for us. We’re afraid of what happens when we can’t put gas in the car, put food on the table or keep the roof over our head.
    I love the Constitution and am particularly friendly with the first of its amendments. I think that at a time like this, we need to be ever-so vigilant in how we watch these guys in office. It’s like when the landlord you hated in college gave you back your full security deposit a week before you had to move out. Thoughts of “he can’t do anything to us now. Let’s go shit in the sink” seem to rattle through the head of the dumbest roommate (and yes, GWB is the dumbest roommate ever).
    Still, I can’t fault my friends who are working a line some place, wondering if they’ll make it to Christmas or if they should try to take back some of the few gifts they’ve bought for their kids for not thinking Constitutionally right now.

  2. I don’t know where the ship of state went off the rails. A few months ago, a co-worker described himself as “pro-torture.” He used that phrase to describe himself. That is beyond fucked up. I don’t even want to try to understand.

  3. I don’t know where the ship of state went off the rails. A few months ago, a co-worker described himself as “pro-torture.” He used that phrase to describe himself. That is beyond fucked up. I don’t even want to try to understand.
    Posted by: Willendorf Venus |
    Sick. Is he a Christian? Always good to ask them that if they say they are pro-torture.

  4. I can only assume that this is happening because lies and lawbreaking have been normalized, primarily by repukes, for years. We now expect anyone in high office to lie about his/her behavior, and about the motivations behind it. We expect them to tell us that what we see with our own eyes is incorrect, and that inferences we draw are impossible. I think we become jaded.
    And I think many people simply now expect, after at least 8 years of them getting away with it, that they will never be held accountable.
    That said, I can’t understand any rational American wanting to simply “put the past behind us.” Treason has been committed. Crimes against humanity have been committed. The stewards of the government have picked the treasury clean. They have used the Justice Department as a tool of their party. I will not put it behind me.
    And I don’t for a second believe that anything will be OK with this country until we confront what was done in our name, see it and understand it, hold people accountable for it, and take steps to try to assure that these things are never done again.

  5. I think we had convinced ourselves that “the people” believe just as we do, and “the people” are in favor of equal rights, opportunities and treatment under the law for all of us. But, I don’t think that was ever true.
    “The people” had no problem with segregation, no problem with most of the most unconstitutional acts of our government, as long as those acts only affected “them” and not us. Even today “the people” have no problem with the government requiring that we all celebrate Christian holidays, or the Congress having a prayer to the Christian God before every session, or “in God We Trust”, or “one nation, under God”, etc.
    “The people” chose to believe that the 14th amendment doesn’t apply to “them”, as far as obtaining rights given only to married people, with marriages recognized by Christian churches.
    In short, we, as a people, are too full of ourselves to accept that we have very far to go before we are even close to what we believe we are.
    So, I’m not surprised that “the people” have no problem with torturing “them”, killing “them”, subjecting “them” to unconstitutional searches, suspending “their” right to habeus corpus, etc. That “the people” don’t care if Bush and his cohort receive the punishment required by law also doesn’t surprise me.

  6. I can only hope that Bush and Cheney are followed by protesting crowds everywhere they go for the rest of their lives because that’s the only time they will ever be held accountable.

  7. Problem 1: People are woefully uninformed. They really don’t know what has been going on. I had a student who didn’t know what Guantanamo Bay was and what went on there. Not kidding.
    Problem 2: If they do know, they don’t understand what it really means. Srsly, I know people who thought that the torture they were talking about was the sort of thing you see in the interrogation rooms in Law & Order.
    Problem 3: If they do know, and do understand, they go along with it because either a) they want to trust their government and think that the people in charge know better than they do what should be done or (worse) b) they really don’t care.
    Put all that together, and then think about how you feel when somebody tells you that you fucked up. You get defensive, you deny it, you blame others, and you most certainly do not want to think about it any more than you absolutely have to. Those people who get it, realize what the Bush Administration did, and know that they enabled it, those people simply do not want to admit it, don’t want to face it, don’t want to think about it. Holding Bush accountable means that millions of other people will have to hold themselves accountable for all they did to let it happen.
    Is it any surprise they don’t want to do that? It’s not about belief in the rule of law for them–it’s about guilt. And they can’t admit it. Lord knows, it’s pretty uncomfortable for me to think about my complicity–did I do enough to try to stop it? I don’t think so.

  8. Just some guesses: beyond personal beliefs and philosophies, a lot of people have the strong urge to follow authority.
    Beyond the issues, a lot of people vote for a given party because that party is what they have voted for in the past.
    The election of 2000 actually voted for someone who was going to restore accountability and return honor and dignity to the WH.

  9. i didn’t sign up for it, and i’m really pissed that it is being taken as read.

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