QUOTE page 27: “The Founders set out to prove that ordinary people could be entrusted with governing themselves in a state where no one could arbitrarily arrest them, lock them up, or torture them.”
This book resonates with me, in part because for the past ten years I have been reading heavily and observing the decline of America in all respects–see my chapter on Paradigms of Failure in Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography), both free at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog (as will all my books, but I do recommend the Amazon hard copies).
I might mention that in recent years I have felt I am reading for all of us, and especially for my colleagues in the government who are good people trapped in a bad system. This book is a perfect counterpoint to the fictional angst in TYRANNICIDE (The Story of the Second American Revolution). Our White House is theater, our Congress is corrupt, Goldman Sachs is out of control, and as Thom Hartman puts it so well, we are Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class – And What We Can Do about It (BK Currents (Paperback)) at the same time that right here in America we have The Working Poor: Invisible in America and Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy.
The author is elegant, polite, and straight-forward. She compares the downturn in democracy here in the USA to the rise of Mussolini’s Italy, Stalin’s Russia, and Hitler’s Germany, pointing out that Mussolini and Hitler both came to power “legally” within a democracy.
Early on the author mentions the Alien & Sedition Act and this resonates with me, I took a lot of hits for my review of What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States from saying similar things back then.
The heart of the book is a chapter on each of what the author calls the ten steps to dictatorship, and I list them here after observing that the author hits it out of the park in pointing out that all previous wars were of limited duration, while the Global War on Terror (GWOT) is the first open-ended constant state of emergency to be declared in America.
01 Invoke an External and Internal Threat
02 Establish Secret Prisons
03 Develop a Paramilitary Force
04 Surveil Ordinary Citizens
05 Infiltrate Citizens’ Groups
06 Arbitrarily Detain and Release Citizens
07 Target Key Individuals
08 Restrict the Press
09 Cast Criticism as “Espionage” and Dissent as “Treason”
10 Subvert the Rule of Law
Virtually all 1500 books I have reviewed here at Amazon and in more easily sorted fashion at Phi Beta Iota support the tandem thesis that we have lost it here in America, and at the same time have imposed terrible–genocidal–costs on the rest of the world.
The author provides ample detail within each of the chapters and in my view is very restrained. She ends by calling for an American Awakening, and at the end are a full page “The American Freedom Campaign” and a half page “The Pledge of the American Freedom Campaign,” both of which will be linked from Phi Beta Iota where I have more freedom to connect.
QUOTE page 29: “The Founders never expected us to fall asleep or get lazy. They counted on us to keep the web of the precious system intact so that an American despot could never arise. They trusted us to cherish liberty as they did. The price of liberty, the generation that debated and created the Constitution understood, is eternal vigilance.”
The author does not seek to address the concentration of wealth or the many corruptions of our government and the two political parties that have sold out to Wall Street, but her bottom line word is the one we can all rally around: LIBERTY. We are no more free today than were the pigs in Animal Farm: Centennial Edition.
Three other books within my limit (see the other 1500 in 98 topical areas at Phi Beta Iota, all with links back to Amazon):
Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism
The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country