Can We Become Americans Again?

November 14, 2012 • Commentary
This article appeared on Cato​.org on November 14, 2012.

On Sept. 12, 2001, President George W. Bush assured us: “We will not allow this enemy to win the war by changing our way of life or restricting our freedoms.”

The enemy has certainly tried, but it was President Bush, following the advice of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who began the extensive attack on our individual liberties through the Patriot Act, which passed on Oct. 26, 2001.

Then, President Barack Obama went far beyond his predecessor’s administration to become the most destructive uprooter of our Constitution in our nation’s history.

Growing up as a student at Boston Latin School, one of whose alumni was Samuel Adams, a firebrand of our American Revolution, I read American history with excitement. I learned how we always overcame grimly looming threats to our self‐​governing republic to become a beacon to the world.

But never did I even imagine that an American president, without insuring due process in a court of law, would — as Obama does — use a kill list to target suspected terrorists for assassination. So far this list has also included three American citizens.

Obama has taken advantage of ever‐​advancing digital technology, using bottomless databases that keep track of those Americans he considers persons of subversive interest. During the presidential debates, did you hear anything about our vanishing privacy?

The secrecy with which Obama discards the Constitution to rule over us is evident in his dictatorial use of the “state secrets” privilege, which actually prevents judges from even hearing cases brought by citizens who claim their fundamental constitutional rights have been expunged by the president’s censors.

I now share with you, fellow American citizens, this chilling description of the essence of four more years of our maximum leader. In a recent op‐​ed for The Washington Post, Kurt Volker shows what that portion of the electorate who cared enough to vote gave us and the rest of the world. This is what America has now come to stand for:

“What do we want to be as a nation? A country with a permanent kill list? A country where people go to the office, launch a few kill shots (from pilotless drones) and get home in time for dinner?

“A country that instructs workers in high‐​tech operations centers to kill human beings on the far side of the planet because some government agency determined that those individuals are terrorists?” (“What the U.S. risks by relying on drones,” Kurt Volker, The Washington Post, Oct. 26).

A country also where its president makes the final choice for his faceless killers to rub out their targets.

I was not surprised to learn from a recent Washington Times column by Ilana Freedman that “the latest (dictator) to publicly announce his support for the commander-in-chief’s re‐​election bid was Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who … assured he’d vote for Obama if he were from the United States …

“Earlier in the year the government‐​official daughter of Cuban military dictator Raul Castro proclaimed her country’s support for Obama during a visit to the U.S. ‘I believe that Obama needs another opportunity and he needs greater support to move forward with his projects and with his ideas, which I believe come from the bottom of his heart’ ” (“Chavez, Castro, Putin: Four more years!” Ilana Freedman, Times247​.com, Oct. 2).

In that dictatorship, Raul’s daughter surely spoke with permission from her father and uncle. It takes one to know one.

Freedman’s news story includes Russia’s Vladimir Putin as a member of the professed group “Dictators for Obama.” But I have no direct evidence of that. I’ll keep you abreast of any other dictators joining the celebratory chorus.

In any case, Obama is once more exultantly justifying anything he chooses to do from now on, because “We won!”

The fateful questions for the future of this nation are why did he win, and will his re‐​election show the victorious way for future presidents to come?

Many Americans’ choice to discard the Declaration of Independence reveals an alarming ignorance of their history, including why their country is — or is supposed to be — unique among all other nations in the world.

The depth of this ignorance explains why throughout the long, fiercely divisive presidential and Congressional campaigns, there were hardly any references to Obama’s persistent contempt for the Constitution. This was the case among loyal Obama Democrats, of course, but also among Republicans and independents.

What makes us Americans was not an issue!

How grotesque it was for Obama to say in September — as he presented his beliefs for maintaining the principles of America’s rule of law while strengthening national security — that in going after American citizens involved with al‐​Qaida: “They are subject to the protections of the Constitution and due process” (“Death from afar,” The Economist, Nov. 3).

Had I been there looking at him, how could I not have burst out laughing?

To be continued: How can we specifically get our country back? Whether you’re elderly or not, keep in mind that Obamacare could soon be coming after you full force — as it decides whether it costs his government too much to keep you alive!

In January 2003, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke about the balance between liberty and security. “The security side is going to outweigh the other” — unless “people come forward and say we are proud to be living in a land that has been more free, and we want to keep it that way” (my book, The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance, Seven Stories Press, 2003).

Next week: How many of us are ready to rebel against this new King George III?

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