Monday, August 18, 2008

Consumerism is killing us

By Libby Spencer

If you read nothing else today, read Bill Moyers' interview with retired US Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich. Bacevich defines what's broken in our government, and our society, with a truly non-partisan slant that spares no one from blame. He notes that we're living on borrowed time, borrowed money and the debt is about to come due. When it does, it won't be pretty.

It's almost impossible to excerpt without doing injustice to that which is left out, but here's a couple of key grafs.

I am expressing in the book, in a sense, what many of us sense, even if many of us don't really want to confront the implications. The Congress, especially with regard to matters related to national security policy, has thrust power and authority to the executive branch. We have created an imperial presidency. The congress no longer is able to articulate a vision of what is the common good. The Congress exists primarily to ensure the reelection of members of Congress.

He goes to explain how this dynamic created a National Security State, which to my mind is a polite way to describe our current police state and also how consumerism has shaped and distorted our foreign policy. But his description of the failure of the Democratic Party to fulfil its mandate of 06, really hits home.

Well, I may be a conservative, but I can assure you that, in November of 2006, I voted for every Democrat I could possibly come close to. And I did because the Democratic Party, speaking with one voice, at that time, said that, "Elect us. Give us power in the Congress, and we will end the Iraq War."

And the American people, at that point, adamantly tired of this war, gave power to the Democrats in Congress. And they absolutely, totally, completely failed to follow through on their commitment. Now, there was a lot of posturing. But, really, the record of the Democratic Congress over the past two years has been - one in which, substantively, all they have done is to appropriate the additional money that enables President Bush to continue that war.

I would also add that they managed to ensure that the mechanisms of the National Security State and its related surveillance society would survive into the next administration, when they expect to take control of it. (If you prefer to watch the interview, rather than read the transcript, you can get the video here).

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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