I have always been under the impression that Americans bow to no one. Their history is deeply rooted in their rebellion against the British empire and their rejection of the British throne. The US constitution, forged in this period of time, reflects the desire on the part of the writers to do away with a corrupt dictatorship. The balancing of executive, legislative and judicial powers is certainly one of the greatest triumphs of the Republic's early days.
It is supremely ironic, therefore, that the executive branch of government - the President - has become essentially a new-age monarchy under George W. Bush. For all America's democratic and legislative laws, Americans generally support the cult of the individual. Thus, those with positions of power are given reverential treatment, whether they are politicians or corporate CEOs. Whenever I catch "Nightly Business Report" (NPR) there is often an interview with a high-paid CEO about his company and his plans and so on. What is striking is the deferential nature of the interviewers - apart from calling the CEO "sir", there is no attempt to ask deeper, more probing questions or to question the man's assumptions (it usually is a man). Despite being affiliated with PBS, NPR is quite business friendly.
This leadership cult is also present in the church ministry books that I sometimes see in Christian bookshops. The modern church pastor is essentially seen as a CEO in these books, and should be given support and obedience because he is the one that God has chosen to be in that position.
But there was a very good reason that the writers of the constitution separated powers so cleanly - the natural tendency for corruption. Their experience of monarchial rule under the British throne was so onerous they could see just how unfair executive power can be if it is given too much power. Yet it appears as though this modern "leadership cult" has blinded many to the excesses that have typified the current President.
Much of the President's defence has been based upon the idea that "it was necessary to break the rules in order to safeguard America". I don't buy this explanation, simply because it is not solely up to the president to safeguard America. Nor is it reasonable to have a direct say in how law enforcement departments run themselves.
In my opinion, Bush's revelation that he had authorised illegal surveillances on US citizens is merely the icing on the cake. The invasion of Iraq, which was a popular but indefensible act, convinced me that the President was abusing his position for his own ends. He was both acting out of malice and making huge mistakes in judgement.
When Richard Nixon eventually fell on his sword, congress had made its mind up that it needed to use its not inconsiderable muscle to limit presidential power. Jimmy Carter was the main target of this new decision by congress, but the new situation helped neither his presidency nor the country in general. Congressional foresight may not have been very good during this period of history, but at least they made the right decision - after all, who wants another Richard Nixon?
But now we have a president who is now considered by many to be worse than Nixon - worse, in fact, than any other president in US history. I am supremely confident that 10-20 years from now this opinion will continue to be vindicated by historians and experts and the general populance.
So what to do? There is only one real solution - impeach both George Bush and Dick Cheney and remove them from office. After that, congress should appoint an Acting President to keep the oval office seat warm until the 2008 presidential elections.
The madness of King George has gone on long enough. While impeachment brings shame and embarrassment to America, to not impeach him will be even worse. It is time that congress stood up for what is right, rather than for what is expedient.
© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.