New Act Gives Additional Powers to the Executive Branch
June 6, 2015
The Democrat’s and Republican’s glorified “reform” of the U.S. Patriot Act is a fraud. This fraud is falsely portrayed in the monopoly media and by the two parties as a slight watering down of U.S. “national security” code. On the contrary. On June 2, the U.S. Freedom Act became a new edition over and above the U.S. Patriot Act. The legislation continues to sanction a system of government repression without any new limitations on the power of government.
U.S. “counter-terrorism” law is an attack on the rights of all and on the foundations of a democratic society. The FBI and other Department of Homeland Security agencies are given authority to conduct wiretaps and electronic surveillance on the political activities of individuals and groups. The law gives the police, the FBI, the U.S. military, the courts and other government agencies broad powers to spy on, harass, imprison and deport people who support the activities of any organization proscribed as “terrorist.” The President and the Attorney General are given power to label any group as “terrorist” and thereby prohibit people from engaging even in lawful activities in support of such groups. For example, if these bills had been in effect several decades ago, fund-raising activities for Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress would have been illegal.
Today, the American political system is in crisis and decay. Forces for political privilege have entrenched themselves, undercutting the very principles of democracy which arose in the struggle against feudalism.
It is not only the “counter-terrorism” laws of the U.S. government which provide people with proof of the reality that the policies of government do not reflect their needs or will. And it is not only the “counter-terrorism” laws of the U.S. government which provide people with proof of the reality that the decision making power does not belong with the people. So too, the people overwhelmingly demand that the government “Stop Paying the Rich” but the government uses its vast power to tax and spend in order to further redistribute our country’s wealth in favor of the monopoly capitalist class. So too, the people overwhelmingly demand that the entire operation of government remain under the direct supervision of the people and that any power not expressly delegated by the people to the government remains with the people themselves, yet this is not even discussed by the Democratic and Republican politicians.
When we look at the decision making process – whether in the case of the “U.S. Freedom Act,” or the budget, or “free” trade deals – we see that this process takes place behind closed doors of the Congressional committees or in secret meetings of the National Security Council. The people have no role to play in any of these decision making processes.
One of the fundamental flaws in the system of “representative democracy” as established in the U.S. is that the sovereignty – the supreme political authority – does not belong to the people themselves, but rather, to the government. In other words, politicians, once elected, are free to rule as they choose; there is no way that they can be held accountable to the people, no mechanism by which the people can directly participate in governance.
Under this system, voting once every few years is not a means of insuring the political power is in the hands of the people, but rather, it is a means by which the people surrender power, legitimating or “giving consent” to the rule of a stratum of professional politicians who are not accountable to the electorate.
A modern definition of democracy must begin with the question of guarantying that the sovereignty – the supreme power – remains with the people. Such a modern definition recognizes the need to create mechanisms to insure that elected officials are accountable to the electorate and that the people can participate directly in the process of governance and decision making.