The things that went wrong in America

Published 10:56 am Friday, November 14, 2008

Of course the collapse of the financial markets in the U.S., which has rippled through world markets, did not have to happen. But, as incredibly damaging as that collapse has been, it is but one element of What Went Wrong in America.

Our plan for the republic was to have a government “of the people,” but gerrymandering of congressional districts and the purchasing of office with an obscene amount of special interest monies made that plan a failure. The Republican goal to have a permanent majority was not founded in serving the people, but in owning the campaigning funding mechanisms like the K Street Project and re-shaping the districts back home, like the Texas example that re-captured Congress in 1994. The Republicans sought, by these means, to create a permanent majority regardless of their actions in Congress.

With this confidence in our “elected” representatives, seeing themselves as a permanent fixture and ruling class, proceeded to invite the very largest business and industry leaders to write their own rules for government oversight, or for the lack of such oversight. The energy companies, with Dick Cheney advancing their cause, wrote energy policies that protected Big Oil through-out the Bush administration. Our first “oil president” was far more oil than president in protecting the interest of those who by no means meant to serve the people.

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Once the theory was proven, that the government need not represent the people to be permanent, the Bush administration acted with hubris unequalled in our history. Influential members of the Bush administration, including Vice President Cheney, had favored invading Iraq before the election of 2000. Convinced of their permanent majority they simply acted upon what could later be seen as manufactured evidence and invaded Iraq. American Imperialism was then founded not upon national security but upon simple desire to extend American power into the Middle East.

The extension of this perception of permanent power spread throughout government and was seen in re-placing competent agency administrators with political appointees like Mike Brown at FEMA. When that was not enough for the industries seeking to own government regulatory powers, the agencies were directed not to enforce their own rules and regulations, as, for example, the EPA claiming it had no responsibility over air quality.

But even these transgressions from a government of the people were not enough for industries eager to avoid competition and instead make profit by the far easier means of government distain for any rules of conduct. So the financial markets saw they were entirely free of rules, and made fortunes gambling securities with risks Las Vegas would have found unacceptable. But there was no oversight, so why not?

Still not enough, the permanent ruling class actually self-immobilized an entire branch of government by turning Congress into a rubber stamp for an administration that held the constitution at arms’ length as a “quaint” document unworthy of enforcement. So rendition happened, torture was sanctioned, permanent imprisonment without trial was justified and violating FISA and spying on innocent Americans was ignored.

And then, to keep all of these actions from ever being subject to rejection, the administration won appointment of Supreme Court justices who found every reason to support Big Government and Big Business and no reason to support the citizens of the republic. While these men were presented as constitutional “literalists” and anti-abortion, their real role has been to protect the very entities that seek to undermine the people.

Ultimately, the nation was undermined from within by greed, hubris, and a blatant disregard of American values. The permanent majority? Now just history.