Last week, the politics of fear ended:
“Because I care so deeply about protecting our country, I take strong offense to your suggestion in recent days that the country will be vulnerable to terrorist attack unless Congress immediately enacts legislation giving you broader powers to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans’ communications and provides legal immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the Administration’s warrantless surveillance program.
“If our nation is left vulnerable in the coming months, it will not be because we don’t have enough domestic spying powers. It will be because your Administration has not done enough to defeat terrorist organizations — including al Qaeda — that have gained strength since 9/11.
“I, for one, do not intend to back down – not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.
“We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won.”
—U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes, “Letter to President Bush regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” February 14, 2008
[A requiem after the jump.]
A requiem for the Republican party
I begin this requiem, like it began, with these words:
“Those who seek to live lives for you, to take your liberty in return for relieving you of yours, those who elevate the state and downgrade the citizen, must see ultimately a world in which earthly power can be substituted for divine will. And this nation was founded upon the rejection of that notion and upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom.
“Now, those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth, and let me remind you they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrrany. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed.
“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!”
—Barry Goldwater, Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech for the Republican Party, July 16, 1964
Those words, uttered by “Mr. Conservative” himself, marked the beginning of modern day republicanism. They were the rallying cry of the Republican Party during the crescendo of the 80’s. How ironic that a half century later, we see the Republican Party has purchased their prominence at the price of the very core of their values!
So now we see the fruition of modern day Republicanism: a party inhabited by little men, guided by little strategies, backed by little voices. In times we have asked for and received the unity of the world, you have returned it with the division of politics for petty gain. In times we have hoped for hope, you have given us resigned despair. In times requiring the empathy for another, you have given us the anger of selfishness. In times, as in all times, demanding the courage of conviction, you have only traded in fear.
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither.”
—attributed to Ben Franklin, An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania, 1759
For this country, I am ashamed. For this world, I am saddened. But for you, who so cheaply value this country’s values, I shall not shed one tear for you.