Could the USA turn into a dictatorship? Of course not, the idea is preposterous! Or is it? Let’s look at a scenario:
End of 2004, the polls indicate that G. W. Bush’s previous massive support has melted away to below 45% and his gang is destined to vacate the White House. People are starting to question the military spending and all the spies informing on them since, except for the "weekly terrorist threat", noone has noticed anything that could jeopardize their safety except a stagnant economy and worsening social climate. The temporary high approval rates slumped quickly once the Iraq war was over after having helped the Republicans in the 2002 electons. Now Bush Junior and his cronies decide they had a good thing going, why not try to hold on to it. A real or faked terrorist-attack is engineered and the support is again quickly skyrocketing, giving GWB unprecedented powers and silencing opposition. "Hmmm, in four years there will be a new election and we can’t count on this device functioning for ever", might be an idea in some peoples’s mind, "let’s grab what we can."
Under martial law ("hey, we’re at war) the constitution is revised by "The Security Amendment" allowing a president more than two terms in power, the election is "postponed" and Bush Jr declares himself "Defender of the Free Wold", for the sake of the nation until comes a time when "we can peacefully return to our road of freedom, democracy and prosperity". Those few opposition leaders and journalists who make too much noise find themselves declared traitors and silenced and, in spite of some unrest, the armed forces declare they stand united behind the emperor "in this time of peril for the country". A dictatorship is born and its logical development comes when GWB is secure enough to declare that his offspring will continue the leadership of the nation "leading the world towards peace and prosperity". In other words, the classic scenario.
It couldn’t happen you say? It’s preposterous! Then let me ask you a few questions.
Before 9-11, was it preposterous to imagine a dozen fanatics armed with $2 boxcutters creating havoc and killing 3000 people in the most heavily defended nation on earth?
Could anybody imagine a US vice president declaring that his country was fighting an eternal war? A White House spokesman telling people to watch what they say? The General Attorney perverting the Bill of Rights, the administration introducing a giant Office of Homeland Security or setting up a system whereby 1 out of 24 citizens is supposed to inform on "suspicious activities" by their fellow countrymen?
Before Bush Jr, could anyone imagine an American president coming to power by depriving citizens their rightful vote, having his governor brother manipulating the voting and the Supreme Court stopping the vote counting?
I can agree that the scenario is unlikely, but is it impossible? Let’s look at historical precedents and probable prerequisites.
Men in positions of power tend to cling to that power with all might. We have seen it time and again all over the world. They get the presidency more or less legally and, after a time, like it so much that they manipulate the laws, harrass and jail opposition, censor the media and use their military to stay in power, preferrably for life. The more power they have, the more tempting it is to keep it. Is GWB a person who is careful to stick to rules and laws or is it concievable that he is prepared to do some "bending" to promote his and his backer’s agenda? Is he a man of impeccable honesty and integrity? Has he strong principles? Does he enjoy power?
Rich people and big business are in general in favor of dictatorships, while they tend to hate even moderately left wing states. Remember all the big US corporations who were very happy with Pinochet’s Chile, Indonesia under Suharto, the Shah’s Iran and many South American regimes. Rich people and big biz are the prime funders of the republicans (and the democrats). Would these most important people incite a revolution if GWB grabbed a bit more power and made it permanent? Are there enough democratic people (I didn’t say democrats!) in congress to put a stop to such a try?
The dominating media outlets are owned by the very people who applaud sending in the marines wherever on the globe US "interests" are at stake and are not famous for independence and critical reporting but rather have the habit of reporting, parrot-style, what Pentagon and the government tell them, as long as it is dressed in patriotic and benevolent phrases. Would media be outraged or would they, like in most other countries, more or less voluntarily support the "elected president" even when he takes the steps to fascistic dictatorship?
A power grab as described would need, if not backing, at least neutrality from the armed forces and most probably backing from CIA and other agencies. Scattered opposition would be easily clamped down on and CIA has a history of helping dictators to power. Military have historically almost always backed right wing regimes. Would CIA and the armed forces actively rebel against their highest commander or is it imaginable that enough of the top brass would come down on Junior’s side of the fence to secure a change?
And the people? 50% don’t vote. 48% of those who do, support the present leader and out of those there are a great many who would welcome a republican president for eternity, (or at least until they themselves were hit by the opression). Those against GWB would find it hard to depose hime as they don’t have any say when locked out of the polling booths. And, as usual, the general, TV-doped public would be fooled as the pretexts for the change would be the standard "Freedom, patriotism & security" cliches that have let them get away with so much damage earlier. Would, and if so, could enough of the millions of decent, true democratic and just Americans stop a scheme like the outlined?
All aggression, interventions, attacks and assassinations USA has embarked on around the globe have been named to fool the world and their own people. Operations "Vigilant Warrior", "Just Cause" and "Enduring Freedom" are just a few names suppposed to give them that nice, warm feeling of righteousness.
Would they for once react if the unelected Bush henchmen embarked on a journey to fascist dictatorship under the label "Operation Eternal Democracy"?
I don’t ask you to agree with me and I don’t say it will happen. I only say: Could it happen?
Preposterous? Remember the $2 boxcutters!
Jerre Skog is a Swedish writer, musician and alternative observer living in Germany since 1999. More articles, political and satirical can be found on: Jerre´s Thinktank www.skog.de Comments are welcome at: firstname.lastname@example.org