L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 295, October 31, 2004
The Nightmare After Halloween
Horror Upon Horror
Exclusive to TLE
Nearly ten years ago now, I started work on the first draft of a nightmarish science fiction novel about an America gone stark, raving mad with religious fanaticism. Since then, I have watched with mind-numbing terroras my own worst nightmare has become the literal truth.
Whatever happens on this coming Tuesday, the outlook for my beloved country is not a happy one.
Throughout our history, despite many bumps and unpleasant moments along the way, America has always maintained an unshakeable faith in its electoral process. That faith has now been shattered. The sheer viciousness of this campaign is completely without precedent. Past campaigns have revealed their share of ugliness, but never before in our history have we seen such a single-minded determination to destroy political opponents without the slightest regard for the truth. I'm not pointing fingers hereboth major parties are equally guilty of these nasty tactics.
Even worse, in our entire history as a nation, we have never once seen such blatantly open and widespread efforts to destroy the integrity of the voting processby both major parties. It no longer matters who will win on Tuesday, because the people of this nation will not and cannot believe it was an honest vote. In addition, because it will be an extremely close vote once again, we will probably see another instance of one candidate winning the popular vote while losing the electoral vote. If that happens, we will also see an effort to amend our Constitution and change our presidential election process to a straight popular vote system.
Many people believe that would be a good thing, but it would not be good at all.
The United States is not a democracy, and despite the constant mouthing of our leaders on the subject, democracy is not paradise. It is hell. Democracy creates instability. It allows momentary fads to affect the lives of all Americans. It allows people to vote themselves funds from their neighbors' wallets. As Benjamin Franklin once said, democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner.
Franklin also said that freedom is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. I have never heard a better explanation of the reasons behind the Second Amendment. An Internet search on "Athens, Tennessee" might be salutary for those who do not agree. Those citizens recovered their freedom and their voting rights, and no one diedand it happened because of weapons, not in spite of them.
The United States is, for the near term at least, a constitutional republic. In a constitutional republic, the majority voice is loud and clear, but with very strict controls preventing infringements on the individual rights of the people. The Electoral College is one such control. Our founders carefully designed the Electoral College to prevent the heavily populated cities making the decisions for the rural areas that are the real backbone of our nation.
The Bill of Rights consisted of those controls (on our government) that our founders considered most essential to prevent tyranny. One of the most frightening things I have seen lately is the impunity with which our government seems to ignore those ten amendments today.
Without our Constitution, America is just another banana republic, oppressive to its people, subject to drastic changes every election cycle, and subject to new revolutions every generation. Without the Bill of Rights, a psychotic Attorney General can use the Patriot Act to destroy what is left of our freedom, and brand those who do not share his Calvinist style beliefs as "aiding terrorism." Without our Constitution (which requires a full declaration of Congress to wage warsomething we have not seen since World War II), a president can use religion as a justification for invading a nation that didn't attack us (once his lies were exposed). He can use it as an excuse for occupying said nation in the face of an armed and determined resistance (God "told" Bush to invade Iraq - just ask him). He can demand the congregation lists of churches to push his sick idea of theocracy. You might want to consider the fact that our very "godly" President and Attorney General both took a solemn oath to defend the very Constitution they defy openly every single day, which should make any rational American question their honesty and their convictions. Like the Taliban, these men do not even understand their own religion, let alone the concept of religious freedom.
I don't know what the coming months will bring. Like any sane American, the prospect of an armed insurrection does not thrill me, and I sure as heck am not going to start one! I've spoken my piece as a citizen, with a vote for Michael Badnarik for President, and I'm very grateful that Texas has an early voting process. I hope that more will not be necessary, but I fear that I am wrong in that.
If a revolution does start without meand from the signs I see around me, it may very well, and I may have no choice about taking partI do hope with all my heart that the revolutionaries will listen to one grave warning from history. A successful revolution, while sometimes regrettably necessary, is one of the most dangerous things known to humankind. Like the invasion of Iraq, it must never take place without a plan. It leaves a power vacuum at the top, and the revolutionaries themselves often have no say over what fills it. The Russians learned that, to their cost and misery, at the beginning of the last century. The Bolsheviks took over their country seven years after the tzar was overthrown. In fact, one of the very few revolutions in human history that actually resulted in more freedom and not less for any length of time was the original American Revolution. Our Constitution was a masterpiece of careful thought and planning by those very courageous and brilliant men who founded this nation, and we should never consider throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Learn from Athens, Tennessee!
Borrowing a page from our publisher and friend, L. Neil Smith, what our Constitution most desperately needs, and does not have in its present form, is teeth. There should be immediate and harsh criminal penalties imposed for any infringement on the Constitutional rights of Americans, including the fundamental right to vote. Such infringements are treason. We should prosecute them as such!
Better yet, why don't we make that the proposed Constitutional amendment to follow this farce of an electionand avoid the blood and the horror of an armed revolution altogether? Sadly, only a very few Americans consider freedom worth fighting for today, so armed insurrection is not only very dangerous in the present circumstancesit is also rather stupid and probably doomed to failure. On the other hand, this amendment requires brains and a little constructive treachery, not brawn. It could have the advantage of becoming a fifth column sort of operation. With the brain trust found here and in other freedom-oriented groups, we could easily word such an amendment in such a way as to find supporters on both sides of the aisle in Congress, as well as in the necessary three quarters of the states. Congress is desperate right now for any legislation that will improve their image, and that sure as heck isn't the Gay Marriage amendment! The long-term effects of giving teeth to the Bill of Rightslike the long-term effects of the Patriot Actmay well be in areas that our Congress would never imagine. It could eliminate a large percentage of federal and state lawsand do it nearly overnight. In other words, we need to borrow the tactics our opponents used to get the Patriot Act passed, and use them better than they did. If you can't lick 'em, join 'em.
What a beautiful low blow! And with not a drop of American blood shed.
Your children and your grandchildren will thank you if you succeed.
Have you written your Congress critter today? Hold off for just a momenthe or she may be a lot more receptive in the chaos certain to follow Tuesday's election.
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