An emotionally charged Facebook discussion actually leads to a question worth answering.
During a Facebook discussion about everyone’s favorite whistleblower (or traitor, or dissident, or whatever you choose to call him) Mr. Edward Snowden, one of the participants made a very provocative statement:
… the government actions may be legal, but are they just? We have a president who has contempt for the Constitution and violates it whenever he wants. Which is frequently. After due process is served in the House and Senate, I would like to see Obama do a merry jig at the end of rope. I’ll even tie the noose.
(With Obama embarrassing the United States in the eyes of the world by petulantly canceling a summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, largely over the Snowden issue, support for the President in some quarters is bound to be a little weak.)
After a few other comments, I responded to this one specifically with:
… the House and Senate wouldn’t do what you describe because just about all of them should be doing the same merry jig.
Should something like that that happen, however, I would be delighted to bring the popcorn.
This level of distaste for our leaders in Washington is shared by many: a recent poll found that Congress was less popular than carnies, root canals and colonoscopies.
After this, another commenter jumped in with:
Daniel, how about you run for office instead?
Well, first, this isn’t really a question. My first impression was that it was a “put up or shut up” statement, but the person that posed later made it obvious there no interest in public office on their part, either. But, even taking that into consideration, it’s still worthy of a response.
To be able to wade into that fray, I would have to have a network of support, and I’d probably have to be a lawyer in order to make sense of everything I’d be looking at. I would also have to have a very thick skin and an ability to operate in deeply gray areas morally, which I just can’t do, and be able to amicably work with individuals whose very presence would make my flesh crawl.
I know who I am and what my abilities are. Frankly, even if I got into the race, I would be crippled before I got out of the gate. I would have better luck wrestling with a dozen vipers in a pit of slime than I would going into state or national politics. (And probably even city politics, given that this is Las Vegas.)
The Failure of the American Experiment?
Looking at the range of politicians, of the ethical pygmies that walk the halls of power of our country, it is clear there is one qualification that I will never be able to do, which is to sell my soul to the devil.
It could be that the American Experiment is over, and it has failed. Now Russia — a nation with an utterly abysmal human rights history — has the ability at this time to claim the high moral ground in the Snowden affair. Snowden — for whatever else he may have done — has exposed what I’ve long suspected and many friends of mine have asserted, that the American Security State has no boundaries, no respect for constitutional limits, and will do whatever it pleases. The term “turn-key dictatorship” has been bandied about recently, and it has taken the drastic steps Snowden has taken — for whatever his motivations may be — to roll aside the rock of secrecy and expose these vipers that hide in its shadow for what they really are.
“The Fault, Dear Brutus, is not in our Stars …”
Power attracts the corruptible. Suspect all who seek it.
~ Frank Herbert
So here’s the hard part:
If we eliminate the corrupt leadership, if we remove the kingmakers that supported these miserable excuses of humanity to serve their ends, even if we craft and implement intelligent regulation to head off abuses like this in the future, will we really solve the problem?
The answer is … no.
Our propensity as a species toward the need for having power over anyone else, for our need to reject reality in order to elevate ourselves high enough that we can’t feel our own inner emptiness, and for all the other “seven deadly sins,” is the root of this. We aren’t interested in fairness. We aren’t interested in cooperation. We aren’t interested in tolerance. And we’re especially not interested in Truth.
The American Experiment was a seized opportunity to attempt to create a nation where ideals, where the innate “self-evident” rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness could be realized. And now our nation has demonstrably descended into the first shadows of plutocratic dictatorship, and there’s no where else to go. Perhaps where the first independent colony is established on the Moon there may be another opportunity like this American ideal, but not until.
One of the themes of the film 2001: a Space Odyssey is that as technology increases in sophistication, we will eventually start seeing our own nature through it. With the digital revolution, we are seeing just this: an intrusive regime, hidden behind a wall of “national security,” seeks to strip us of many basic rights in order to better serve the greed, ego, and power needs of its corporate masters.
Even if we “clean out the rascals,” if we identify the puppet masters and take them out of power, there will be others, waiting in the wings, watching hungrily for their opportunities.
If this is all we, as a species, can expect of ourselves, then perhaps the Human Experiment has reached a dead end as well.
As in that same film, it became obvious to David Bowman, the protagonist forced to shut down a sentient computer that tried to kill him became it too human, that the human race needs to become something more.
You suggest I should run for political office?
Until the human race becomes something more … what’s the point?
There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
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Copyright © 2013, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.