“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
– Thomas Jefferson
Recently, the National Defense Authorization Act (FY 2012) passed with an overwhelming majority in the Senate, abolishing the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eight amendments to the Bill of Rights. The bill turns all Americans into “enemy combatants” and opens the door for a militarized police state to abduct people out of their homes at night, never to be seen or heard from again. Obama asserted the right to unilaterally assassinate U.S. citizens anywhere in the world, without charging them with a crime, evidence, or due process.
Without the right to life and due process, you have no other rights. What good is free speech if you can be imprisoned for life for saying something, without being charged with a crime? What good is freedom of religion, if the president can order the military to kill all the Jews? Obama could order the deaths of all Congresspeople who vote against him on a bill. He could order the deaths of judges who might find his actions unconstitutional.
Democracy is founded on the premise of equality of man and on government founded on the consent of the government. Government of the people, by the people, for the people. Closely intertwined with that is the idea that all men are bound by the same laws, laws which are created by representatives who are elected by the people. If one person is to be punished, they must be accused of breaking one of those laws, have an opportunity to prove their innocence, confront their accusers, stand before a trial of their peers and be judged. If a man is a law unto himself, he has no place in a democracy, for he is a tyrant, not a representative of the people.
This bill is no less significant than Marius’ proscriptions at the fall of the Roman republic. I only hope that Americans can rediscover the virtues that made this country great – rule of law and individual freedom – before we fall into the state of despotism that has defined humanity.
The American experience has been a glorious one. For over 200 years, America has been a beacon of freedom to the world. Our constitutional system has been remarkably resilient. We have gone through many dark times and have always survived. I look for hope in the post-Wilsonian period and post-WWII era. America has emerged from worse.
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
– Abraham Lincoln
NDAA ruled unconstitutional. Obama appealed.