One Thing Democrats
One Thing Democrats and Republicans Can Agree On, But Will They?
Democrats and Republicans should agree that the over-militarization of civilian life is big government. So, citizens of all persuasions should be wary of one of the most dangerous suggestions in a long time. I speak of the current move to revisit the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prevents, in all but the most extreme cases, the military from taking control away from states and localities. As the lead editorial in today’s Roanoke Times points out, though, the act does recognize that, in cases of war, insurrection, or serious emergency, and to fulfill his Constitutional responsibility, the president could dispatch the military. So, the government is fully enabled to act in an emergency. But the emphasis should be on Constitutional responsibility, not power-grab opportunism. Now we hear pols extrapolate from our pleas for help with overreach to the nth.
Many of us only wanted help from the Coast Guard and Navy for search, rescue, and re-supply (food, medicine, water) and from the Army for help with the levee system. But that’s not enough for some who, ironically, pretend to shun the big government label. Even US Army General Honore, while staying out of the policy discussion, admitted to NPR’s Steve Inskeep this morning that his men and women were able to do everything they needed to do without complete military control of the affected areas. Still, some still try to capitalize on the disaster to pave the way to police state. It’s the work of scoundrels and beneath the dignity of Sen. John Warner. As the Roanoke Times editorial also points out, it was the failure of leadership at every level of government, not the Posse Comitatus Act, which caused the failed crisis response.
Regarding the federal response, we now know, because a small number of reporters suffered through the storm along with stranded citizens, that the federal government had ample warning of the storm’s magnitude on the Sunday before the storm. Brian Williams, once referred to as the Right’s Go-to Guy has had a revelation, and not of the religious kind (though that may have happened too). As he tells it, even the folks on the ground knew they were about to go under water. And denials of what was known (and when) don’t wash. His incredible and courageous storm reporting is featured in a video library at MSNBC.COM. And so, pleas by the fed to the contrary are both excuse making and opportunism in the extreme. For more coverage of what was known, and when, please refer to the Boston Globe, which has a chronology.
A good test of an idea is to ask ourselves how we’d feel about the proposal if it were administered by the other party. What are the possible unintended consequences? I doubt that many Republicans would have bought such a suggestion if proposed by a Democrat. Whatever lessons we learn from this national disaster, let it not be the surrender of everything we hold dear. Fear is a strong motivator. But, it appears that, as Franklin Roosevelt said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Americans have been handing over their liberties to calm their fears for a while now. And it’s time we get a grip.